Jadon Sancho would be “buzzing” to take on Lionel Messi and Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League but knows he must “step up” his game to reach that same level.
Sancho has joined Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund in one of the biggest deals of the year, although it was dwarfed by Messi’s transfer.
After 778 appearances, 672 goals and 265 assists for Barcelona, Messi became a free agent when his only senior club could no longer fit his contract within strict salary restrictions.
The six-time Ballon d’Or winner subsequently signed for PSG to form a frightening forward line alongside Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.
The trio scored 66 goals in LaLiga and Ligue 1 between them last season, even with Neymar only featuring 18 times, and the French side appear clear favourites for the Champions League.
United winger Sancho certainly recognises the threat but is ready to rise to the challenge, having had 19 goal involvements in 26 Bundesliga outings in 2020-21.
“I use [the Messi move] as a motivation,” he told Rio Ferdinand in a BT Sport interview. “PSG are a great side, got great players like Mbappe, Neymar, Messi.
“As a young player, I’m looking at that: woah, that means I need to step up my game, try to show the world that I’m not at that level yet but I can get to that level.
“It’s good competition. Every young player should thrive for big games like that.
“If we did ever face them in the Champions League, I would be buzzing, I’d be ready to go. They’ve got a great side, definitely.”
— Jadon Sancho (@Sanchooo10) August 7, 2021
United have their own superstars, though, and Sancho picked out Bruno Fernandes for praise as the Portugal international aims to build on a Premier League campaign that brought 18 goals and 12 assists – his 30 goal involvements seven clear of the next-best midfielder in Europe’s top five leagues.
“Bruno, we were on the same team [in training] and linked up really well,” Sancho said. “Me and him love winning.
“I’m glad we have the same mindset because it’s needed, especially in a big team like this. If you want to win things, you have to learn how to win in training and in matches.
“I think the whole team is a great squad. Speaking to Luke [Shaw] and H [Harry Maguire] and Marcus [Rashford] at the Euros, they were just telling me there’s a great bunch of lads.
“I watched some of the games last season and the attack is very good. To be a part of that now is going to be kind of crazy.
“I’ve seen what Bruno is doing, what Marcus is doing, [Mason] Greenwood, [Edinson] Cavani… to add more goals and assists to that is going to be exciting.”