If you put PSG’s Kylian Mbappe to one side for a moment, there are two other young, attacking wonderkids setting their respective divisions alight this season.
Having moved to Germany from Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho has been an integral part of BVB rising to the top of the Bundesliga where they currently have a three-point advantage over their rivals Bayern Munich.
In Madrid, Real Madrid are in a season of transition. But, in amongst the chaos, Vinicius Junior has broken into their first-team and looks as though he is there to stay.
Both are young. Both are in their debut seasons in a European top flight. But which one is outperforming the other?
We’ve taken a look at the data available to us from Wyscout to draw our conclusion.
As you can see, both players are just 18 years of age.
For them to have had the impact they have had in such a short space of time is incredible.
But that does not tell us who is having the greater impact.
Jadon Sancho numbers
Let’s take a look at Sancho first.
Without dipping into the stats, when you think of Sancho you probably think of him as being an exciting dribbler with an eye for an assist.
Well, his numbers testify that impression.
As you can see from his radar, Sancho attempts 8.71 dribbles per 90 minutes and has a 77.37% success rate.
That means, six of those dribbles per match is going to beat his man – the kind of attacking play that people want to see. And, without banging on about his age too much, the confidence the player has to be able to do that at 18? Incredible.
As for his eye for an assist; Sancho has an xA (expected assists) of 0.31 per 90 which is just below his actual assists per 90 of 0.47 – this shows he is actually overperforming in this area.
To enable this, Sancho has a smart pass % success rate of 50% – clarification is needed on what is classed a smart pass in this instance – and a forward pass success rate of 76.47%.
This is a player who is progressive in the final third.
Vinicius Junior numbers
Straight away, you can see a few subtle differences.
Vinicius Junior attempts more dribbles per 90 than Sancho, 9.18, but his success rate is not as high at 69.42%.
Like Sancho, his assists per 90 is higher than his xA, registering 0.21 assists per 90 above his 0.16 xA. This is way down on Sancho.
Vinicius Junior’s progressive passing is below Sancho’s as well; 41.5% smart passes per 90 and 66% forward passes.
What does all this mean?
It’s actually quite hard to give this context when you are just looking at two young players.
Yes, Sancho is performing better than Vinicius Junior in some areas – but does that mean that Sancho is actually performing remarkably well?
We need to compare him to a player who is at the top of the Wyscout rankings in a similar position to get a proper comparison.
We will look at Sancho in comparison to another leading attack-minded player this season who is being linked to a move to a bigger club; Thorgan Hazard.
Without drilling down into all the numbers, mainly because we don’t need to given the absence of blue on the outside, we can see that Jordan Sancho is out-performing a more experienced Bundesliga star who plays a similar role.
Impressive stuff from the young Englishman.
The point of this article was to use data to understand which of the two young stars is performing better in their debut season in a European top league.
The data shows us that the answer is clearly Jordan Sancho.
That said, Real Madrid clearly have an exciting talent on their hands in Vinicius Junior and it will be fascinating to see how he develops over the next few seasons.
Vinicius Junior is already at one of the top clubs in the world. Jadon Sancho, given his start to his career, is already being linked to big money moves back to the Premier League.
These are two exceptional talents that, all being well, will light up the European and international game for years to come.
If you love tactical analysis, then you’ll love the digital magazines from totalfootballanalysis.com – a guaranteed 100+ pages of pure tactical analysis covering topics from the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga, Bundesliga and many, many more. Buy your copy of the February issue for just ₤4.99 here, or even better sign up for a ₤50 annual membership (12 monthly issues plus the annual review) right here.