Manchester United: Jadon Sancho is not ‘physically or mentally’ ready to play, reveals Erik ten Hag


Jadon Sancho is training away from Manchester United and will not return until he is physically and mentally ready to play for the club again.

Sancho has been working in the Netherlands with coaches trusted by his manager Erik ten Hag, having not kicked a ball for United since October 22 due to illness. The 22-year-old missed the club’s training camp in Spain last week after he was left out of England’s squad for the World Cup. 

Sancho, who joined United 18 months ago for £73million from Borussia Dortmund, turned off his social media accounts last month to focus on his family and the second half of the season, according to sources.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag (right) has admitted he does not know when £73million Jadon Sancho (second right) will return to action for the club in a shock revelation

Sancho has been training alone after missing the club's mid-season training camp in Spain

Sancho has been training alone after missing the club’s mid-season training camp in Spain

Ten Hag has spoken to the forward about his situation on several occasions and did not want to put a timeframe on when Sancho will return to training.

‘I don’t think he will be back this week, no,’ said Ten Hag. ‘We want to bring him back as quickly as possible, but I can’t give a prognosis of when that will be. Sometimes there are circumstances with fitness and mood. We got a drop of quality level and sometimes you don’t know why or what is causing it.

‘That is what we are doing now to try to get him back there. It is a combination of physically and mentally.’ 

One of the most welcome sights for England at this World Cup was that of Bukayo Saka and Marcus Rashford shining on the international stage again.

Two of the three young black players who suffered horrible racist abuse after missing in the penalty shootout defeat by Italy in last summer’s Euros final were among the brightest stars for Gareth Southgate’s side in Qatar.

But what of the third player who missed from the spot at Wembley that night? Sancho has pitched up in the humble surroundings of Dutch amateur club OJC Rosmalen, a far cry from Qatar.  

A brief video emerged last month of Sancho dribbling around training mannequins at the 3,000-capacity venue under the supervision of coaches recommended by his Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag.

A brief video emerged last month of Sancho dribbling around training mannequins by himself

A brief video emerged last month of Sancho dribbling around training mannequins by himself

Sancho has not played since October 22 due to illness and it has raised concerns over the gifted Londoner, even more so after he shut down his social media accounts last month

Sancho has not played since October 22 due to illness and it has raised concerns over the gifted Londoner, even more so after he shut down his social media accounts last month

The 22-year-old headed there after a series of talks with Ten Hag over his dip in form this campaign. 

Sancho has not played since October 22 due to illness and it has raised concerns over the gifted Londoner, even more so after he shut down his social media accounts last month, with sources saying he did so to focus on his family and the second half of the season.

United sources insist Sancho has not been axed from the squad after he missed the club’s mid-season training camp in Spain last week.

They stress that Ten Hag spotted the drop-off in Sancho’s performances and advised him to follow an individual training programme to improve his fitness and mindset. 

It has been described as a ‘reset’ for the player away from Carrington and the intense scrutiny of Old Trafford. Ten Hag confirmed on Tuesday that no deadlines have been placed on Sancho’s return.

‘I’ve had several talks with Jadon and I don’t think he will be back this week, no,’ said Ten Hag. ‘Sometimes there are circumstances with fitness and mood. Now he’s on a physical programme and our aim is to get him back as quickly as possible. But I can’t give a prognosis of when that will be.’

Explaining Sancho’s absence from the Spanish trip, Ten Hag added: ‘He wasn’t fit enough to be there. It’s a combination of physically and mentally.’ 

Sancho was one of three England players to suffer horrendous racist abuse after having a penalty saved in the final of the European Championship final against Italy in summer 2021

Sancho was one of three England players to suffer horrendous racist abuse after having a penalty saved in the final of the European Championship final against Italy in summer 2021

Marcus Rashford (left) and Bukayo Saka (right) were also thwarted that day but have turned around their form for their clubs

Marcus Rashford (left) and Bukayo Saka (right) were also thwarted that day but have turned around their form for their clubs

Sancho has only scored eight goals and contributed four assists in 52 games for United. He has struggled to justify the £73million paid to Borussia Dortmund to sign him in July last year, 12 days after the Euro final at Wembley. 

Like Rashford, Sancho had been brought on as a substitute in the 120th minute to take a kick in the shootout. 

Unlike with his United team-mate, however, it is not so easy to put Sancho’s subsequent problems down to the fallout from that night, which included racist messages on social media. 

He was one of the best performers on United’s summer tour of Bangkok and Australia, scoring against Liverpool, Crystal Palace and Aston Villa as he formed an effective partnership on the right flank with Diogo Dalot.

Three more goals followed against Liverpool, Leicester and FC Sheriff in his first eight games of the season. But Ten Hag and his coaching staff noticed a significant drop-off in Sancho’s form and confidence after that.

While £82m signing Antony has made an instant impact, teenager Alejandro Garnacho is enjoying his breakthrough season and Rashford looks a player reborn, Sancho has gone in the other direction.

‘Most of the time it comes slowly,’ said Ten Hag. ‘On the tour he played well, and the start of the league he played some good games like Liverpool, Leicester and Arsenal. Then his performance was lower. First you observe but then the stats back it up.

Teenage winger Alejandro Garnacho (pictured) is enjoying a breakthrough season for United

Teenage winger Alejandro Garnacho (pictured) is enjoying a breakthrough season for United

‘At the start of the season, he had goals, assists, key moments and key actions and it became less and less. 

‘We got a drop of quality level and that happens sometimes. You don’t know what is causing it. That is what we are doing now, trying to research and now we try to get him back there. 

‘I think there is huge competition for England. When you don’t show it week by week, you can fall out of the squad, which is what happened.’

Sancho has only played once for his country since the Euros final, against Andorra 14 months ago.

The road back will not be easy at United either. Cody Gakpo and Christian Pulisic are among the forwards being linked with a move to Old Trafford in January.

There are no plans to offload Sancho, even if the club had a realistic chance of recouping their investment. 

For now, United — and England — can only hope that a spell out of the spotlight is what Sancho needs to get back to his best on and off the pitch. 



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