Jadon Sancho thriving away from Old Trafford would be an utter humiliation for Manchester United

Jadon Sancho swerves past a PSG defender
Jadon Sancho left a trail of PSG defenders in his wake during Borussia Dortmund's Champions League semi-final first leg win on Wednesday - Getty Images/Christian Liewig

Sir Jim Ratcliffe could be forgiven for looking at this week’s Champions League semi-final with a degree of frustration. Manchester United were knocked out of the competition well before his investment into the club, yet he had a £73 million asset helping another team take a step towards Wembley.

The sight of Jadon Sancho gliding past Paris St-Germain opponents and playing with a smile on his face was the perfect illustration of how players can regress at United but thrive elsewhere. Ratcliffe’s shake-up behind the scenes since taking control of football operations suggests the penny has dropped: perhaps we are the problem.

Sancho was banished from the first-team squad early in the season after Ten Hag accused him of not training properly, which the player disputed. With no apology from Sancho, his loan back to Borussia Dortmund was a move that suited all parties, although heads may get scratched at United at how another team can get a tune out of a player not wanted by Ten Hag.

He is still expected to leave United this summer, with the club listening to offers for all but a clutch of rising stars. They would likely take a hit on the fee they paid Dortmund in 2021 and Sancho would join the ranks of expensive signings that never hit the heights at United.

Just looking at United’s most expensive signings points to the “no-good culture” that Ten Hag talked about earlier this season, his way of explaining what he inherited.

United broke the Premier League record to buy Paul Pogba back from Juventus for £89.3million, only for him to leave on a free transfer at the end of his contract and head back to Italy where he is serving a ban for doping offences. He was expected to deliver more than a Europa League and EFL Cup triumph.

Antony was bought by Ten Hag for £82 million but has been used off the bench almost as much as he has started matches this season, in which he has registered one Premier League goal and one assist. Romelu Lukaku won the Serie A title with Inter Milan after leaving United, while Angel Di Maria won the World Cup.

Harry Maguire is an exception among the expensive signings, having fought his way back into Ten Hag’s plans this season. But even he could have left United last season and at the start of the campaign was playing more for England than United.

Sancho sits fourth on the list of United’s record signings and was seen as one of the missing ingredients to a title challenge when he was signed by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. One of the questions Ratcliffe and his new staff will be asking is how United failed to get the best out of him.

“You all owe him an apology, we were ALWAYS familiar with his game,” read a post from Dortmund’s official X feed with a picture of Sancho. It is not the type of apology that Ten Hag or United wanted.