Jadon Sancho was benched for Borussia Dortmund's 3-1 UEFA Champions League loss against Barcelona on Wednesday because the German club "needed players that were really focused," according to manager Lucien Favre.
Several reports have indicated Sancho started as a substitute as a punishment for lateness:
After Antoine Griezmann got Barca's third, Sancho scored BVB's 77th-minute consolation, finishing brilliantly following some neat footwork on the edge of the box:
In the wake of the defeat, Sancho told reporters he was "not allowed to speak" about the situation.
Favre hinted the reason he started Sancho on the bench was because the 19-year-old was not fully focused:
"I explained to him [why he wasn't starting] before the game. I told him it was a really difficult game here in Barcelona, and we needed players that were really focused and that went on to the pitch really focused."
The Athletic's David Ornstein reported last week that Sancho had been left "feeling humiliated, scapegoated and unprotected" by Dortmund following public criticism from Favre and sporting director Michael Zorc, and his early substitution in the 4-0 defeat to Bayern Munich.
Favre's latest comments, and the fact he left Sancho on the bench for one of BVB's biggest games of the season, are unlikely to make the teenager feel any better.
It is not as though Sancho's form in 2019-20 make him deserving of a great deal of criticism.
In the Bundesliga, he has four goals and six assists in 10 appearances this term, a combined contribution better than any other player in the Dortmund squad.
After a breakout season in 2018-19, when he scored 12 league goals and provided 14 assists, the London-born winger continues to produce numbers that would be impressive even for a player in the prime of their career:
Yet Dortmund appear to be doing little to keep him happy at the club. If anything, they seem to be actively trying to push Sancho away.
The loss to Barca means BVB must better Inter Milan's result on the final matchday of the group stage in order to qualify out of Group F.
The German club host Slavia Prague, while Inter welcome Barca, who are already guaranteed top spot, to the San Siro.