Is Dembele the right alternative to Sancho?

In the summer of 2013, Arsenal tried to sign the best player in the League – Luis Suarez, but fell short of Liverpool’s valuation. That’s when Liverpool owner John Henry tweeted –

What do you think they’re smoking over there at Emirates?

Most transfer windows have a saga of a famous player trying to move or a club desperately trying to sign a player. This year its been the story of Jadon Sancho. With the transfer window closing on Oct 5 at 11 pm BST, Man United are looking at alternatives now, in case Borussia Dortmund (BVB) don’t budge from their valuation of £120 million. One such alternative who United have been strongly linked with recently is Ousmane Dembele. However, does the stats & his profile merit a permanent transfer or even a loan? Read on to get the low-down on Dembele & how does he compare to Jadon Sancho.

Ousmane Dembele – An extremely talented footballer, once plying his trade at BVB, was sold to Barcelona at €125 m in 2017. Typically an attacking winger, a part of the front 3, Dembele loves to take on the defenders.

Dembele heatmap for 2019-20

He didn’t play a lot last season due to injuries, only playing 5 games & starting 3 games, scoring once. Since I didn’t have a lot of data to compare from, I have used the data from 2018-19 season, which will give you a bird’s eye view of Dembele’s profile & whether he’d be a successful transfer.

Dembele heatmap for season 2018-19

Dembele played 37 games, playing both on the left & right wing. He’s definitely adept at playing with both feet & therefore has had success previously with BVB too. He’s played on both the wings at Barcelona in 2018-19, scoring 11 times & assisting 6 times.

However, the trouble isn’t with his lack of scoring, largely due to injuries, but his attitude. After an impressive start to the season in 2018, scoring 5 goals in 6 games, Dembele’s performances began to taper off. Messi injured himself in a match vs Sevilla & it took 16 mins for Dembele to come on the pitch, which enraged his team-mates on the pitch, some even expressing it in media.

The Frenchman has struggled to learn Spanish. He missed a good chunk of the 2019-20 campaign through injuries and inconsistent form, and he has found it difficult to blend into the team’s renowned tiki-taka style of play.

Dembele is a free-verse footballer, a player, who is playing in a very sophisticated team with a determined theory of how the game should be played, which is instilled from a young age in its players at La Masia. If you can’t interpret well the way in which Barca plays, he is bound to have problems.

Moreover, Dembele’s price tag has also cast a shadow over him. He landed at the club in August 2017 as the most expensive player in the club’s history (a mantle later taken by Philippe Coutinho) in a flurry to fill the void left by Neymar Jr., who had sensationally joined Paris Saint-Germain a few weeks earlier. Few 20-year-olds living in a foreign country could adjust to that pressure.

Dembele, of course, hasn’t helped himself. He’s been childish, complaining constantly and eating junk food. He’s lacked commitment to the club’s commercial duties and repeatedly been unpunctual, also confirmed recently by his ex-team mate Kevin-Prince Boateng.

While Dembele has had all the talent in the world to do well at Barcelona, he’s fallen short, partly due to injuries or due to his lack of focus.

So by opting for Dembele instead of Sancho, what does Man United lose? Lets look a little closely at what Jadon Sancho brings to the table:

Jadon Sancho – The answer to the question is Goals & Assists! But is he better than Dembele, where does Sancho play & how well does he do it?

Jadon is a right footed player, who plays on both the wings, is pacey, good at playing counter attacking football & most importantly finishes off well. Therefore he’s rated very highly.

Sancho heatmap season 2019-20

Lets look at the stats between the 2 players:

2019-20 (League + CL) SanchoDembele*
Total played4037
Total Goals scored1911
Avg Goals per game0.40.35
Avg Shots per game1.61.5
Total Assists186
Total Touches131.285.4
Big Chances Created227
Avg Key Passes2.051.75
Avg Successful Dribbles (per game)2.71.85
Avg Total Duels won (per game)3.93.85
Comparison of Stats between Sancho & Dembele

*Stats from 2018-19 for Dembele since he was injured for most of 2019-20.

Lets look at a head-to-head in-depth comparison between the two players (stats for both players are from 2018-19 season for H2H comparison). (Dembele in Blue & Sancho in Yellow)

Playmaking abilities of both players

While, Dembele comes close to key passes, overall Sancho trumps Dembele on all accounts. 0-1 to Sancho

Passing abilities of both players

Demebele doesn’t even come close in this case, Sancho again! 0-2

Defensive capabilities

Is there even a comparison? 0-3 to Sancho.

Yes, Dembele may be a cheaper option compared to Sancho, but the difference in quality is stark! If Dembele is looked at as a temporary loan option for a year & then again United targets Sancho next year, it may be feasible. However, the revenue that Man United earns from going deeper in the Champions League games, with Sancho in the team, far outweighs the cost per season that Sancho will incur, in terms of fees.

Assuming a £120m buy for Sancho with a deal over 5 seasons, which comes to £24m per season. The Champions League revenue that comes along per season can be off-set against the money paid to buy Sancho. Approximately £83m per season was made when United reached the Champions League quarter finals.

Hence, looking at the current situation as well, where most clubs are suffering from fall in revenue, it seemed to be an ideal time to buy Sancho & negate competition, as next year, when the PSGs, Madrids of the world will enter the market, it will be a bidding war & historically, Man United don’t win them.

Its buy Sancho now & save the season for Man United!

What do you think, comment below..

Source for stats – &

2 thoughts on “Is Dembele the right alternative to Sancho?

Add yours

  1. So basically u r saying Daniel James will have to look elsewhere if either Jason or Dembele make it to united..
    For me the question when any club pays such a high amount for any player is: do they think a player makes the team click or a team brings out the best in a player
    We have seen big players come to united in the last 7 years and not make the expected impact


    1. James played more than 20 games for United, the kid needs some space, he’s come in from the championship directly to a big club. He started off well, but my view is he needs to go on loan, there’s a lot he can learn, only when he plays consistently. Beilsa is a very keen admirer, he tried to sign him when he was at Swansea but the deal fell through at the last hour.
      W.r.t. Whether paying big money for a player works or not, it can work both ways! Remember United has always brought players with big money, be it Veron in 2001 (38m pounds) who was the most talented player then, but failed somehow. Or it can be Rio Ferdinand who then cost 18m pounds in 2000..
      We have always bought players with money, then or now! But the difference was since SAF retired we bought players who only played for money & not the club. Sanchez, Di Maria et all.. But Sancho looks different because he’s played in Manchester, knows the city, culture & is English, so off the pitch can settle down quickly.. & with the core of the players now young & hungry, he can gell well.


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