Jadon Sancho hasn’t had the best start to his Manchester United career.
So far, he has yet to complete a full 90 minutes in a Premier League or Champions League game, and he has not recorded any goals or assists in his first 13 appearances for United in all of the competitions.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s recent switch to a three-way system is an additional issue for Sancho to overcome as he doesn’t appear to incorporate any wide attackers.
3-5-2 appears to be his new favorite form, which sacrifices wide attacking players for full-backs to provide breadth instead.
Since the change, Sancho has played a total of 49 minutes in three matches, and he has failed to come off the bench for United against Liverpool.
As a result, reports have emerged regarding English talent and how he is being judged as a backstage winger at Carrington.
Sancho has thrived as a wide striker right and left at Borussia Dortmund, but due to Solskjaer’s attacking options at Manchester – combined with his move to three at the back – he cannot enter the pitch.
Players such as Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia have been retrained at Old Trafford to take on more defensive roles, but it’s reasonable to suggest that Sancho is just not suited.
Rather than performing like a typical winger, the 21-year-old fits in the mold of a creator who delivers an undeniable product in the final third.
He has yet to show it since his transfer, but while in the Bundesliga the youngster has scored 38 goals and assisted 45 goals, registering a contribution every 95 minutes during his three and a half years in Germany.
Provided he has a platform to thrive on, Sancho has too many offensive advantages attached to his game to be deployed as a winger for the Reds, even if this were only to happen against opponents in deep defense.
Despite the move to three at the back, he could still thrive in an attacking role if Solskjaer is ready to embrace 3-4-3 over 3-5-2.
Using the 3-4-3 would allow Sancho to offer a combination of goals and assists from the right or the left. It has the qualities to occupy large spaces while drifting inside when it is supported in the last third by wing-backs.
Eden Hazard’s role under Antonio Conte could be used as a role model for Sancho. The Belgium international was used as a left forward in Chelsea’s 3-4-3 a few years ago, and he’s been an integral part of how the Blues have progressed on the pitch and generated movement.
In the end, Solskjaer is almost under obligation to find a place for his new signing given that £ 75million has been invested in his services, but aligning him as a winger is unlikely to be the responnse.