Man City might have let another Jadon Sancho slip through the gaps as Borussia Dortmund pounce again – Joe Bray
The moment Jayden Braaf was announced as a new Borussia Dortmund player, it wasn’t long before the comparisons with Jadon Sancho were being made.
Braaf, 19, left City this week after a turbulent three years, where he arrived as a wonderkid and left after a serious injury and on a different page to Pep Guardiola. When Braaf was scoring brilliant solo goals for the under-23s and helping the youth team with the FA Youth Cup, he felt he deserved more first team involvement. Guardiola and his first team coaches didn’t agree, and Braaf’s prospects at City never really recovered.
A loan at Udinese looked to be an opportunity for Braaf to prove City wrong, but injury cut that short and ensured he wouldn’t play for the whole 2021/22 season. In that time, other academy players moved ahead of him and Braaf’s exit was inevitable. Now snapped up by Borussia Dortmund, he will be looking to follow Sancho’s footsteps and prove Guardiola wrong.
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The comparisons between Braaf and Sancho are clear, but not completely equal. Sancho didn’t go out on loan, and was arguably making more of an impact at under-23 level. When Braaf showed he was one of the better EDS players, he arguably went the wrong way around pursuing the next step, and was frozen out all together. After that step back, he was on the way to taking a forward step at Udinese, but the injury effectively ended his time at City.
“Jayden is someone whose development we have been watching closely for years, and he has shown in the past that he can make a difference with his pace and talent,” said Dortmund’s new Sporting Director.
“After more than a year out with injury, he will certainly need some time to regain his former strength and establish himself fully in men’s football. We want to give him that time and bring him through carefully. If Jayden can come through the next phase and stay focused, we will have a great talent on our hands.”
Without naming Sancho, it’s clear Dortmund are looking for Braaf to follow the same pathway as the current England international did after leaving City’s academy in 2017 with a point to prove of his own. Sancho was given the first team opportunities he wanted and that City couldn’t offer, and never looked back. Not until he joined Manchester United, anyway.
If Braaf is given the same backing – and he’ll look to Erling Haaland and Jude Bellingham’s progress too – then there is every chance that City could have let another star slip through their fingers. Braaf certainly has the talent, and if he can add the right attitude then he’s certainly in the right place to prove Guardiola wrong.
For now, City won’t feel too bad about Braaf’s departure, but may be made to regret the way things were left, if the youngster fulfills his clear potential in future – particularly as they have missed out on a transfer fee and any sell-on clause.
However, that is the price City have to pay when competition for the first team is so competitive. There will be players who are successful away from the Etihad, and Braaf is well-placed to be the next one. More often than not, though, City’s judgement is often justified over time. It’s up to Braaf to follow Sancho and prove them wrong.
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