Dortmund pinning hopes on Sancho and Haaland

Dortmund's Norwegian forward Erling Braut Haaland celebrates scoring the 2-0 goal with his teamamtes Dortmund's English midfielder Jadon Sancho and Dortmund's German midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud (R) during the German first division Bundesliga football match between BVB Borussia Dortmund v Schalke 04 on October 24, 2020 in Dortmund, western Germany.

Rarely has a Jadon Sancho goal triggered such relief at Borussia Dortmund.

Everyone in the Black and Yellows arena exploded after the 20-year-old scored his league first goal of the season against VfL Wolfsburg (2-0).

Ahead of the crucial clash against RB Leipzig this Saturday, the 20-year-old's improvement seems to have come at just the right time.

Considering Dortmund's claim to be the country's No. 2, strong enough to challenge top dogs Bayern Munich, a Sancho in top form is a must.

The former Citizen's star scored his last goal in May and then came the drought and a crisis.

Borussia dismissed their coach Lucien Favre mid-December and the England international's stunning 17 goals and 17 assists last season faded into memory.

Rumors talking of a possible move to Manchester United seemed to have "blocked his mind," as Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke assumed. "For some time it was in his head to join a new club and that is something you lose your concentration," Watzke added.

Demanding 120 million for their striker, Dortmund secretly extended his contract until 2023, including a significant pay-rise.

The new contract apparently didn't stop the Brit from thinking about a new club. "All the talk distracted him," sports director Sebastian Kehl said.

Favre's successor Edin Terzic stated, "Jadon lacks the ease and magic moments we are used to."

Now Dortmund sees Sancho's upturn as the first step back to better things after the youngster was allowed to see his father during a short vacation after Christmas. The club approved the short trip to lift Sancho's spirits.

Five defeats this season have increased the pressure on Dortmund as the club is in danger of dropping out of the top four in the Bundesliga and therefore failure to qualify for next season's Champions League.

Over the coming weeks, Borussia will face three rivals for one of the Champions League spots (Leipzig, Bayer Leverkusen and Moenchengladbach).

Aside from Sancho, the return of top goal-scorer Erling Haaland has also led to greater optimism. The Norwegian international missed seven games due to an injury at the end of last year.

Haaland is the club's most successful striker this season (10 goals) and has scored a total of 33 goals (plus six assists) in 33 games.

Not surprising that Haaland is attracting the attention of big clubs in England and Spain. Reportedly FC Barcelona is also interested.

Watzke told the spearhead to stay longer than this season and follow the example of former BVB striker Robert Lewandowski.

"Robert did the right thing. He developed in our shirt to a world-class performer before leaving for Bayern Munich. That just doesn't happen in a single year," the 61-year-old said.

Haaland's contract with Dortmund runs until 2024 but contains an exit-clause.

Coach Terzic said the games in January were decisive for where the team lands at the end of the domestic league season. But hopes are high again after the return of its top scorer and Sancho's return to form.

"It's a fact, we need to qualify for the Champions League to keep our fairly expensive squad," Watzke said.

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