The PR people at Borussia Dortmund currently turn out to be beating heads against their desk frustrated at Jadon Sancho
A few days ago, the 19-year-old English international committed cardinal social media to a Bundesliga player when he smoothly shared video of a recent trip to Dubai on Instagram.
The quickfire series of clips comes down to a & # 39; What I Did On My Holiday & # 39; essay for the TikTok generation. Sancho jumps off a yacht, feeds giraffes in a zoo and rides a dune buggy. Unfortunately, the video also ends with a photo of him putting salt on a £ 268 gold-plated steak.
Just a year ago the same steak served by famous chef Salt Bae in his restaurant in Dubai, the center of an average tea-cup storm in Germany when it was ordered by Bayern Munich veteran Franck Ribery.
Since then, there has been a golden rule for Bundesliga players: show off your wealth the way you want, just don't eat the ruddy steak.
Sancho is predictably treated with a wave of faux moral indignation in recent days. Bild accused him of ruining his reputation & # 39; while Die Welt sniffed that it was & # 39; difficult for the public & # 39 ;.
All this is of course no more than hot air. Sancho has the right to do whatever he wants with his money, and the German press is endearingly strained about bling impressions. Where they once became hot under the collar about the cars of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, now they do that about the vacations of Sancho.
Yet the video also served to emphasize a bitter but inevitable truth for Dortmund.
Sancho is no longer the young student with big eyes who idolized Aubameyang a few years ago. He is now an established star, full of self-confidence and sees a movement back to England.
As the January transfer window progresses, speculation about the future of Sancho has once again overdrive.
He has been repeatedly associated with relocations to Manchester United, Liverpool and former Manchester City club, while Chelsea is said to be preparing a record for a bid of £ 120 million.
Haaland has further wound up the rum mills. With the arrival of the Norwegian there is a new prodigy on the block to challenge the status of Sancho, if not his place in the team.
And then there is the discipline. The Instagram video is the newest in a series of small indiscretions by Sancho this season.
In October, he was omitted from the team for a crucial game against title rivals Borussia Moenchengladbach after his late return from the international break. A month later he was facing Barcelona because he missed a team meeting.
The doommongers have already started drawing parallels with Ousmane Dembele, the French youth whose furious behavior alienated his teammates and accelerated them to £ 100m to Barcelona in 2017.
Yet such comparisons are a kind of unfair. Dembele had been much less impressive for Dortmund after a year than Sancho after three years. The Frenchman also went on strike and destroyed his apartment before leaving Dortmund. Sancho, on the other hand, turned up a few times late and fed a giraffe.
The video with gold steak was undoubtedly badly advised, not least for a player who describes himself on the club website as & # 39 ; just a normal young guy & # 39 ;. It is uncomfortable with Dortmund's increasingly vain attempts to maintain their reputation as a salt club.
However, it is no secret that Dortmund is more stubborn and cynical than their carefully romanticized self-image suggests. With Sancho it has always been a matter of when, instead of or, it will move to one of the richest clubs in Europe. And perhaps more importantly, for how much.
His current contract, which was signed only last summer, will keep him in the club until 2022 and, in accordance with club policy in this area, does not contain a release clause. Dortmund plans to make a significant profit on Sancho, and Chelsea's £ 120 million is perhaps just the starting point of a bidding war.
They are also in a hurry to sell it. Dortmund is currently one of four or five teams with a realistic chance of winning the Bundesliga title this season. They count on a now deadly front three from Sancho, Haaland and Reus to help them with this.
This week, Kicker magazine ranked him as the number one winger this season, ahead of Bayern Munich star Serge Gnabry.
There is also no reason to assume that Haaland & # 39; s departure will speed up his departure. The Norwegian is central and if someone leaves to make room for him, it is Paco Alcacer, not Sancho.
Only an offer of Neymaresque proportions would tempt the club to release their English crown jewel. And as for the player himself, Dortmund remains relaxed to the point of complacency.
After the Barcelona incident, sports director Michael Zorc dismissed suggestions that Sancho's bad discipline can be calculated to provoke a January movement.
& # 39; I have no impression of the conversations I have had with him and his agent, & # 39; Zorc told Bild.
That would and will probably change in the summer. There are already rumors that Milder Rashica from Werder Bremen is standing in line as a replacement. By the time the next season starts, Sancho may be back in the Premier League.
But until then, the transfer rumors must be interpreted in the same way as that infamous gold steak. With a pinch of salt.