Back in March Manchester City signed a Watford striker. It didn’t make too much news because the striker in question was only 14 years old. However, could Jadon Sancho be the one that got away for the Hornets?

Sancho had been a part of the Golden Boys Academy since the age of seven and rose through the youth ranks at the club. He was highly rated by the Watford staff.

But, as with any youngster who demonstrates potential, the Premier League’s elite circled and it was announced in March that Manchester City had signed Sancho.

Under the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) - strategy designed to improve youth football in England - the Citizens paid an initial fee of £66,000.

The deal could rise to £500,000 with add-ons and Watford are understood to have also agreed a ten per cent sell-on fee. Not bad for somebody who’d yet to complete their GCSEs.

But since his move to the Etihad Stadium Sancho has gone from strength to strength. He scored a brace on his debut for Manchester City’s Under-18s - at the age of 15 - earlier this month and netted twice for England Under-16s this week in two respective youth competitions.

So do Watford harbour any animosity towards the Sky Blues for poaching one of their prized assets? Hornets’ head of Academy Chris McGuane insists that isn’t the case.

“Jadon is a player we had high hopes for because he’d been at the club since the age of seven,” McGuane explains. “We’d spent a lot of time working with him but what has happened is done.

“We have to focus on the players we’ve got here who we also have high hopes for. There is no hard feelings with Jadon. He’s gone on to represent England and that’s brilliant.

“It is still recognition for us at the Academy in what he has done. But here we have players in the current group - like Nathan Gartside, who has gone away with Northern Ireland - who play for their countries.

“But the rules are what they are unfortunately. We have to abide by them whether we agree with them or not. We have just go to do our best to show young players Watford is the right place to be.”

He continued: “Jadon is doing well and we’re delighted for him.

“His family got in contact with us too which was very nice. Full credit to him because he is a very good footballer and hopefully he will continue to progress and succeed.

“But he’s got a lot of development ahead of him and a lot can change in four or five years.

“We still have good players here though and as one door closes another opens for somebody else.”

The EPPP has arguably made it easier to the elite for English football to sign talented young players from ‘lesser’ clubs at reduced prices.

For the likes of Watford that means they have to work even harder to convince youngsters with potential that they would be best served to remain at Vicarage Road and continue their development.

“I know what we can offer young players,” McGuane says. “We continue to have a strong partnership with the Harefield Academy and the relationship goes from strength to strength.

“We have a first team management team who believe in young players. At every single Under-21s’ game we’ve had representation from the first team staff. We can only show players this is the right place to progress, develop and hopefully play in the first team.”