Bundesliga facing a tragic talent drain: Richard Buxton
Sancho likely to be just the latest star to use league as a stepping stone
English Premier League clubs used to fear the Bundesliga's looming spectre.
Every player who jumped ship to Germany's top flight struck a crushing blow to the self-proclaimed greatest league in the world's ability to nurture its homegrown prospects.
Regular first-team football overseas understandably proved more alluring to youngsters that had grown increasingly disillusioned with a life on the EPL's star-studded periphery.
But Manchester United's prospective capture of Jadon Sancho, for a British transfer record fee of 120 million euros (S$194.4m), could herald a reversal of that recent talent drain.
The winger is set to return to his former parish, a little over three years since becoming frustrated by Manchester City's somewhat cautious approach to youth development.
That calculated gamble did not carry tangible benefits in the immediate term, with former teammate Phil Foden winning six major honours in that time by waiting his turn at the Etihad Stadium, yet the substantial experience Sancho has gained is invaluable.
The 20-year-old's move to Borussia Dortmund proved a trailblazer for English players in the Bundesliga, with 13 making appearances and seven now in permanent residence.
Sancho's impending switch to Old Trafford will hardly skew the latter's numbers, with Lucien Favre's side recently drafting in coveted Birmingham City midfielder Jude Bellingham for £22.5m.
It will, however, amplify a trend which threatens to see German football spending what remains of this summer coming to terms with a mass exodus of its leading lights.
Christian Pulisic's feted arrival at Chelsea last year paved the way for the Bundesliga's brightest and best to test themselves among the EPL's elite.
Timo Werner has already joined the American in west London from RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen's Kai Havertz seems likely to follow suit soon.
Arguably, it was the Blues' success in staving off the danger of losing a prodigious talent which set in motion the turning of the tide.
Callum Hudson-Odoi, reaffirming his commitment to Stamford Bridge at a time when Bayern Munich seemed destined to snare him away, sent out a defiant statement that Bundesliga clubs can no longer have it all their own way when it comes to poaching.
The first major league to bounce back from Covid-19 has become a successful proving ground for players honing their craft, but ultimately not a destination to stay for the long haul.
Beyond the EPL-bound crop, Luka Jovic and Ousmane Dembele secured high-profile transfers to La Liga on the back of fleeting Bundesliga stints.
Others will certainly traverse that path soon, including Bellingham's new Dortmund teammate Giovanni Reyna.
It is also increasingly only a matter of time before a host of continental heavyweights are hammering down the doors at Signal Iduna Park to prise Erling Haaland away.
Few should begrudge those who elect to pursue a career in leagues with a comparatively more level playing field than toiling in what remains, to all intents and purposes, a one-horse division caused by Bayern's unwavering level of dominance.
Players in their early 20s from other Bundesliga clubs have no desire to wait around in hope that the Bavarian side will suffer an overdue fall from grace.
At different times, Werner's Leipzig and Sancho's Dortmund have attempted to lay siege to "FC Hollywood" but are invariably overpowered.
Rising stars cannot prosper in a league where they are knocked down year after year by a standalone super club.