Erling Haaland and Jadon Sancho might be playing for rival clubs right now, but they were once very close friends during their time at Borussia Dortmund. The two played at the club for just over a year after the Norwegian joined them in January, 2020.
The son of former Manchester City midfielder Alfe-Inge Haaland opted against joining Manchester United to move to the Bundesliga side in 2020. He did it as a ‘stepping stone’ to continue his development as a top goal-scorer in Europe before joining a major side in the Cityzens.
How did Haaland and Sancho become close friends?
Soon after his move to Dortmund, Haaland became a really popular member of the squad and got on really well with Sancho. With the two nearly in the same age category (with Sancho being a couple of years elder to him), the two formed some solid chemistry at the German club and thrived in the Bundesliga.
In their first full season together, in the 2020-21 campaign, the two youngsters had 57 goals among each other in all competitions. This included 35 goals in the Bundesliga itself and their impressive work paid off when they clinched the DFB Pokal title at the end of the 2020-21 season.
During their time together at Dortmund, the duo wasn’t only as thick as thieves on the pitch but almost inseparable off the pitch as well.
They attended promotional events together and seemed to really love being with each other, having a lot of fun and joking around. However, their partnership broke off in the summer of 2021 when Sancho left for Manchester United.
What did Haaland have to say about Sancho’s move to United in 2021?
Haaland was understandably gutted to see his partner-in-crime leave the club, even though he opted to stay with them for at least another season. He spoke about their partnership after that and feelings to see him leave, saying: “Me and Jadon understood each other very well and he’s a top player.
“So of course it’s sad that he goes but that’s how it is and that’s football. You never know what will happen. But I think that there’s a lot of other good players that I have a good tone with and it can become even better. We have to see who I match the best with.”
Of course, with Haaland playing in Germany and Sancho moving into a new journey in his career at Manchester , the two didn’t get to interact or meet each other regularly after that. They wouldn’t really meet up with each other until 2022, when the Norwegian decided to make his big move to the Premier League by joining Manchester City.
Sancho reportedly tried to convince his ex-teammate to join him at Old Trafford rather than move to his rival club, but Haaland opted to do something he felt would be the perfect decision for his career. He moved into the same city as the Englishman, but opted to play for their powerful rivals.
Are Sancho and Haaland still friends despite rivalry?
The two crossed paths on multiple occasions in the 2022/23 season, with United and City meeting each other in three Manchester Derbies. Before the first one at the Etihad Stadium, Erik ten Hag hinted that he would consult with Sancho on potential tips about how to neutralize Haaland’s threat and dig into his weaknesses.
The Dutch manager had said: “Of course you talk with your players. When a player played in the past with a player, you ask them. But it is also our job in advance to analyse the team and if individual players have a huge contribution, then we have to do our job. That is what I am doing with my staff and players can give more details.”
Well, that didn’t seem to work at all as Haaland produced an incredible effort in his first Manchester Derby, scoring a hat-trick and assisting two goals in City’s 6-3 drubbing of the Red Devils. In the same game, Sancho was taken off at the 70th minute mark after failing to do anything noteworthy and being unable to match his ex-teammate’s heroics.
There was no real footage on whether Haaland or Jadon met up with each other at the Etihad Stadium before or after the game, but they showed no love for each other during the course of the game. Interestingly, probably in fear of the paparazzi and potential backlash from fans, the two have not been seen in a public place together since the Norwegian forward arrived at Manchester.
While Haaland won the European Treble with the Cityzens last season, scoring 54 goals in the process, Sancho had a really topsy-turvy campaign in which he has was sent in exile to train alone for months in the Netherlands before showing glimpses of his bright talent.
Before the FA Cup final between the two rival clubs, Man City’s website posted an interesting article named ‘friends reunited’ where they summed up Haaland and Sancho’s friendship and time together at Dortmund. It’s clear that unless they got permission from the two players, the official media team wouldn’t post this.
As a result, it’s safe to assume that Sancho and Haaland are still good friends off the pitch. They might not be hanging around with each other all the time anymore, probably because of their clubs’ rivalry, but the duo must be catching up with each other on the phone or in private after enjoying an iconic period together in Germany.