The British media has developed an insatiable appetite for all things Jadon Sancho this season. Whether he is doing 64 consecutive around the worlds in his back garden, taunting Bundesliga defenders or telling a journalist what he ate for dinner last night, the media want to know about it.
Hype surrounding Sancho’s development at Borussia Dortmund is symptomatic of the media culture that accompanies English teenage talents, but the fact he snubbed the seemingly unsnubbable Manchester City to ply his trade on the continent has added an extra layer of intrigue and admiration for the 18-year-old winger.
It only takes a brief glance over England squad’s in major tournaments to see how poorly travelled we are as a nation.
There is certainly an argument to be made that the Three Lions’ struggle to compete with the world’s top international sides can be explained in part by the reluctance of English players to test themselves away from their home nation, but Sancho now finds himself at the spearhead of a revolution which is threatening to break the mould.
Those who have been eating up the Sancho-based content which has made its way westwards from Germany and flooded English shores in recent months will be eagerly anticipating his trip to Wembley with Dortmund on Wednesday evening.
The fixture will provide England fans with an opportunity to place the next big thing under the footballing microscope, but Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping Sancho is absent in the post-match prognosis.
The Argentine manager will have been having sleepless nights in the buildup to the first-leg of the last 16 tie, pondering how to stop the diminutive speedster from slicing through his defence and adding to his tally of 18 goal contributions in all competitions this season, via Whoscored.
A perfect roadblock offering both defensive solidity and forward-thinking prowess had been staring Pochettino in the face in the shape of a fully fit Danny Rose – until disaster struck on Sunday. Rose is now facing a late fitness test to determine whether he is fit enough to take a place on the substitutes bench after suffering a shin injury against Leicester, as per Sky Sports.
And, with Ben Davies also sidelined, it seems that Jan Vertonghen is the most likely candidate to step in at full-back. The problem for Spurs, though, is that Vertonghen is not blessed with the engine, pace or suitability to the role of a marauding full-back to consistently overlap moving forward. And at this age, 31, Vertonghen will inevitably struggle to keep up with Sancho in a foot chase.
In a team which is so dependent on the width provided by full-backs, there is no doubt Spurs will suffer from the absence of both Rose and Davies; Vertonghen’s defensive expertise simply cannot compensate for what Pochettino will lose in the final-third.
Kyle Walker-Peters is another option who could deputise at left-back, but the fact he is right-footed and his lack of experience at the top level are two notable caveats which leave Pochettino with no choice other than to turn to the experienced Belgian enforcer.
A home tie in the first leg of the last 16 Champions League clash has presented Spurs with a huge opportunity to lay down a gauntlet to the rest of Europe.
It’s a fixture which has promised to leave supporters salivating over the standard of attacking football on display, but in the absence of Rose and Davies, Pochettino will be forced to turn to a player does have the defensive nous to neutralise Sancho, but at the expense of the speed and ingenuity his side will crave in the final third.