Former Arsenal head of youth recruitment reveals Gunners narrowly missed out on signing Jadon Sancho, Jude Bellingham and Christian Pulisic

England internationals Bellingham and Sancho are thriving at Dortmund
England internationals Bellingham and Sancho are thriving at Dortmund (Picture: Getty Images)

Arsenal’s former head of youth recruitment Steve Morrow has revealed that the Gunners narrowly missed out on snapping up Jadon Sancho, Jude Bellingham and Christian Pulisic before they ended up at Borussia Dortmund.

Sancho, 20, spent the majority of his youth career at Watford’s academy before moving on to Manchester City in 2015 and then Dortmund two years later.

While in Germany, the winger has turned into one of Europe’s top prospects and recently became the first and youngest English player to reach 50 Bundesliga assists in less than 100 games.

Pulisic made his name at Dortmund before moving to Chelsea
Pulisic made his name at Dortmund before moving to Chelsea (Picture: Getty Images)

And Morrow, who spent near to a decade in his youth recruitment role at Arsenal before leaving in 2019, revealed that the north London club almost signed Sancho on two occasions.

‘Every top club will say there were near misses,’ Morrow told Goal.

‘Jadon Sancho was certainly one of those. We missed out on him once when he moved from Watford and went up to Manchester City, and then again when he reached that age at City when young players have a choice to make.

‘Jadon felt that his future was away from Manchester and we were very, very close to signing him, but the family felt at the time that the best opportunity for him was at Dortmund and off he went.’

Morrow (right) was Arsenal's head of youth recruitment for almost a decade
Morrow (right) was Arsenal’s head of youth recruitment for almost a decade (Picture: Getty Images)

Arsenal were also close to bringing in Sancho’s Dortmund team-mate Bellingham back in 2019 from Birmingham City, according to Morrow.

The Gunners ultimately missed out and last summer, the 17-year-old midfielder opted to join the Bundesliga club.

‘Jude Bellingham was another one that was very similar to that,’ Morrow added.

‘When he came to the end of his contract at Birmingham and was debating whether to stay there and sign a scholarship or move somewhere else, we were very close to that one as well.

‘But sometimes it just doesn’t happen and you have to accept it.’

Morrow also claimed that USA international and Chelsea winger Pulisic had a trial at Arsenal as a teenager but was deemed not to be up to the physical level of others in the academy at the time.

Pulisic made the switch from America to Germany in 2015 before moving onto Chelsea in 2018 for a fee of £58million.

‘Through our connections in the States, Christian was one that I actually had over at London Colney as a 14-year-old,’ Morrow added.

‘He came in and did quite well, but he was small and underdeveloped physically when he came to us.

‘I did see his potential but he was certainly behind physically in terms of the same age group with our boys.

‘I wanted to bring him back again, but it just didn’t work out and he went to Germany unfortunately.’

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