• Sancho should be in no rush to leave Dortmund for Man Utd – Lambert

    Jadon Sancho and Borussia Dortmund have a mutually beneficial relationship that should not be broken up too soon, believes Dortmund Champions League-winner Paul Lambert.

    Sancho’s side square off against Bayern Munich in a Bundesliga top-of-the-table clash on Tuesday evening, with the winner in Der Klassiker able to give their hopes of winning the German title a huge boost.

    England winger Sancho has been benched since the Bundesliga became the first major league in Europe to restart after the coronavirus crisis as he nurses a minor calf injury.

    However, he has made two substitute appearances, helping put Saturday’s match against Wolfsburg to bed by providing an assist for Achraf Hakimi’s goal in the 2-0 win.

    And Lambert believes that Sancho will prove crucial if his former club are to win the title this season while also urging him to stay at Signal Iduna Park amid interest from the likes of Manchester United and Chelsea ahead of the summer transfer window.

    ‘Being at Dortmund is a coup for himself anyway,’ BT Sport pundit Lambert said of Sancho’s future to Goal. ‘No English team can say they get 83,000 every week at their stadiums. The Dortmund support will love him because of the way he plays and where he comes from.

    ‘If he moves at a young age and it doesn’t go right then there will be massive regret. The best decision might be developing there and seeing where it takes you. I have always said that you don’t realise how big the club is until you leave.

    ‘The organisation there is great and the support there with the Yellow Wall is phenomenal. Dortmund will also need him to win the title. They are nursing him back, then when he comes on for Saturday’s game, he sets up the second goal with a great touch to go by the full back.’

    Sancho’s absence has seen Julian Brandt and Thorgan Hazard thrive in his place, and Dortmund look well balanced in a 3-4-3 system that saw them earn a 4-0 win over local rivals Schalke in their first game back after over 60 days between matches.

    Striking sensation Erling Haaland scored in that game, and he now faces his biggest test yet against Bayern, who are four points ahead of Dortmund in the title race.

    And Lambert has been impressed with the 19-year-old’s incredible impact of 10 goals in his first 10 Bundesliga games since his move from Red Bull Salzburg in January.

    ‘He deserves the hype for what he has done,’ Lambert added. ‘Everyone would say that but he must not get too carried away and keep his feet on the ground. Then he will have a fantastic career. He is at a fantastic football club who will look after him.

    ‘He is young with players of the same age around him. That’s important for him. As long as he doesn’t lose his head, then he will become a fantastic striker. His goal record is well known and he is doing it in a strong league now.

    ‘Hakimi has been great and so has Raphael Guerreiro on the other side. They have the license to get in behind with Thorgan Hazard and Julian Brandt in the forward line. There’s still Sancho to come back so the team is strong, dynamic, quick and with energy.

    ‘Whether they do it [against Bayern] remains to be seen. I think three at the back at the moment is suiting them and the coach can either go the same way or change it. They have a strong bench, too, with [Giovanni] Reyna who is another talent coming through at just 17.

    ‘It is a really young, dynamic team against a top team with experience. My main concern on Tuesday night is that Bayern showed against Frankfurt that they can go through the gears quite quickly. I think Dortmund will come for them, so it is a case of whether the young kids can keep their cool and head. Then hopefully they can get that win.’

    Bayern have been boosted by an incredible turnaround since sacking Niko Kovac in November and replacing him with Hansi Flick, who has reinstalled a dominant possession style of play.

    Spain midfielder Thiago Alcantara has been pivotal to Bayern’s style of play, but he is set to miss the game at Dortmund through injury. As a fellow holding midfielder, Lambert is aware of what a blow that is for the Bavarians.

    ‘Thiago is one of the best midfielders around,’ Lambert continued. ‘The way he plays the game is one- and two-touch football. He has great technical ability, a great brain and the way he reads the game is incredible. It is a massive blow that he is out for Bayern going forward with him not being fit.’

    Former Scotland international Lambert was a regular starter during Dortmund’s 1996-97 season when they won the Champions League against Juventus after knocking Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United out in the semi-final.

    And Lambert, who now manages Ipswich Town in League One, recalls man-marking a 24-year-old Zinedine Zidane at the Olympiastadion in Munich in his final game for the German giants.

    ‘I had faced some great No 10s that year in the Bundesliga like Thomas Hassler, Mehmet Scholl and Steffen Effenberg,’ he added. ‘My role was basically to be aware of these type of players and to protect the defence.

    ‘We had won 1-0 at home against Manchester United. We scored at Old Trafford which meant they had to score three but we shut them out. In the final, we thought Juventus would have to be unbelievable to beat us after that, which they were.

    ‘Playing against Zidane, I was given similar instructions, but when I was on the pitch, I didn’t realise how tall and elegant he would be. He was a world-class player and one of the greatest players we have ever seen.

    ‘The thing with him was that you had to stay on your feet as he could go either way against you, which was his great strength. I have met him since then which is nice. I went to watch Real Madrid train in Lanzarote with the assistant manager.

    ‘We had a laugh when he recalled it. He was thinking, “Oh my God, I don’t want to remember that game. I couldn’t believe we lost!” It was a nice moment. He exercised those demons in his finals after. He was a great, great, great player. It was one of those games where everything went right for us.

    ‘After the Champions League final, Juventus were asking me if I wanted to move there. I didn’t want to move and I loved the club. I didn’t need to move and in my mind I wasn’t moving. I loved the club, support and I still do.

    ‘My son wasn’t too well at the time, though, so we decided to come back to Scotland to another great club [Celtic], a huge club as well. My time at Dortmund is never forgotten. I was fortunate to have played with so many legends. Every time we get together is great and I like going back.’

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