By Simon Peach, PA Chief Football Writer
Erik ten Hag says Jadon Sancho’s progress and potential is one of the reasons Manchester United have a “good base” to kick on from next season.
The 23-year-old arrived at Old Trafford from Borussia Dortmund in 2021 in a £73million deal following a prolonged pursuit.
Sancho has shown flashes of his outstanding talent but has yet to fully live up to the billing, with the United winger falling out of the England reckoning as a result.
Ten Hag has worked carefully with Sancho, who went on an individual winter fitness programme in the Netherlands rather than travel to the squad’s World Cup camp in Spain.
Champions League secured!
Great team win tonight, much deserved, fans were amazing! 🙌🏼
Have a good night Reds! pic.twitter.com/EfyqWeAYBD
— Jadon Sancho (@Sanchooo10) May 25, 2023
Back then the patient United boss said the player was “not in the right status or fitness state”, but he has since made strides and the Dutchman expects even more from him.
“He did very well on the right side and I think he played a very good game,” Ten Hag said after Thursday’s 4-1 defeat of Chelsea.
“I think Jadon Sancho is one of the players who made progress in the season and there were many players in our squad who made good progress. I think it’s a good base to build further on.”
Asked if he preferred Sancho on the right or left, Ten Hag said: “He can do both.
“I think he prefers to play on the left, but we have seen today he is very good on the right as well.”
United’s win against Chelsea sealed qualification for next season’s Champions League with a game to spare.
Ten Hag immediately underlined that summer signings are needed, but also stressed there is far more to come from the likes of Sancho.
“Still, we can also improve with this squad, as we did this season,” the United boss said.
“I said (signings) is one part of it. The other thing is progress in the current squad and the current players.
“That is the job that I have to do, in togetherness with that squad and with my coaching staff.
“As (of) now, I think we make huge progress during the season. The team, many individuals play a fantastic, great season.
“Now we have a good base but, as I just mentioned, I think there is still a lot of room for improvement also in this squad.
“But then when you get the right players in, that will help and even give you more depth and a better standard and level.
“Then you have more chance to be in the top four and then it gives you more chance to win titles and trophies.”
United have already won the Carabao Cup this season and return to Wembley to face Manchester City in a mouth-watering FA Cup final on June 3.
But first comes the Premier League season finale against Fulham – the last home match before long-serving David De Gea’s contract expires.
Both parties have spoken positively about agreeing new terms but talks have dragged on, although Ten Hag downplayed the suggestion Sunday could be the goalkeeper’s last Old Trafford appearance.
“I think we want him to stay and he wants to stay, so I think we will find each other,” he said of the Premier League Golden Glove winner, who joined United from Atletico Madrid in 2011.
“I never will give a comment about that, about how negotiations are going.”