Amid the flurry of deals that made the final few days of the summer transfer window one of the barmiest in recent memory, one stood out for a very different reason. In leaving Manchester City for Borussia Dortmund, Jadon Sancho became the latest young English player to leave these shores for the continent; a once alien concept that has suddenly come into vogue.
The 17-year-old winger arrived at the Westfalenstadion for a fee understood to be in the region of £8m (€8.7m) and was promptly handed the number seven shirt vacated by Ousmane Dembele following his £135.5m move to Barcelona. Dortmund's reputation for being a dab hand in developing young talent would strongly suggest this isn't a case of misplaced faith, either.
Quite how one of City's most remarkable young talents found his way to the Bundesliga prompts a fair bit of head scratching. Along with Phil Foden and Brahim Diaz, Sancho is regarded as the best to emerge from the club's £200m academy, which has itself drawn praise from all quarters. But while Diaz and Foden shone during City's pre-season tour, Sancho was conspicuous by his absence.
He was left behind. In August, the situation escalated when the teenage prodigy went AWOL, failing to report for training throughout the month with the Daily Telegraph reporting City staff were unable to get in contact with the player. As his future in Manchester grew more uncertain by the day, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur were among the clubs monitoring the situation, amid suggestions Sancho was looking to return to London, having been plucked from Watford's academy in 2015. But it was Dortmund who won the race for a player regarded by so many as one of country's best talents.
Stories of British players abroad are so often fraught by by toe-curling cases of culture clash that seldom ended well. Ian Rush infamously remarked that living in Italy was like living in a foreign country after his spell at Juventus, while the recent cases of Ashley Cole, Ravel Morrison, Joe Cole and Micah Richards seemed doomed from day one. The success stories of Kevin Keegan, Steve McManaman and Gareth Bale have certainly remained in the minority.
But the dynamic is very different now. Young, hungry players who have seen the pathway to their first team on these shores blocked are now looking to the continent to secure the opportunities they crave in an environment that allows them to refine their game tenfold.
Germany in particular is reaping the benefits. Sancho has joined four fellow England youth internationals in the Bundesliga in Ryan Kent, Kaylen Hinds, Mandela Egbo and Reece Oxford. 20-year-old Liverpool winger Kent will spend the 2017-18 campaign with SC Freiburg. Hinds, 19, signed a three-year deal with Wolfsburg after he was released by Arsenal this summer, while Egbo and Oxford have landed at Borussia Monchengladbach. Oxford, a talented and versatile defender who made his West Ham United debut as a 16-year-old stands to enjoy the benefits of playing in a different country, away from what could be another troubled campaign for his parent club back in east London.
19-year-old Chris Willock, meanwhile, has left Arsenal in pursuit of greater opportunities and will hope to find them at a true giant in European football in Benfica, where he has signed a five-year deal. His brother Matty has opted for Netherlands, signing for FC Utrecht on loan from Manchester United for the season.
18-year-old Mason Mount, another prodigious Englishman, has also made the journey to Netherlands, albeit to Vitesse Arnhem, almost a second home for Chelsea's fledgling talents. Arsenal's Dan Crowley is also looking to kickstart his career in the Eredivisie with Willem II.
England's youth teams enjoyed remarkable success this summer, winning the Toulon Tournament in June with success also coming in the Under-20 World Cup and the Under-19 European Championship. The Under-17 side was only denied success in their European Championship campaign after the heartbreak of a penalty shoot-out defeat to Spain in the final.
Despite the disappointment, it was a competition Sancho made his own, winning the award for the competition's best player having also scored five and assisted five to hoist his side into the competition in the first place. His impact, along with that of then-City teammate Foden, didn't go unnoticed, with Germany's Under-17 coach Christian Wück remarking: "Sancho and Foden are very good. I've never seen better players than these two at this age."
In a parting statement last week, Sancho explained his decision to leave City. "The time is right for a new challenge where I can start to fulfil my potential." Should he manage that, the route he and the many others have taken this summer could prompt a new era for how young talent finds its way to the top.