Leroy Sane returned to training with Manchester City recently. The German winger has been out since August with an anterior cruciate ligament injury he sustained during the Community Shield against Liverpool.
Despite his imminent return, Juventus and Bayern Munich expressed interest in Sané during the January transfer window. The 24-year-old’s current contract expires in June 2021 but such interest may affect his decision to sign a new contract with City. The lack of regular starting appearances under Pep Guardiola could also impact Sané’s decision to leave. Sane is a player Guardiola must keep, especially following a tough Premier League campaign.
Leroy Sane Must be Kept at Manchester City
Competition for Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez
Raheem Sterling started the season in excellent form. He’s scored 20 goals for City so far but his form has dipped recently. The England international is now without a goal in his last seven appearances and his injury against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend may keep him out for the next three weeks.
Riyad Mahrez has also performed well for City this season with seven goals and assists, but the Algerian also hasn’t contributed to a goal in his last five appearances and struggled to make an impact against Spurs.
Mahrez and Sterling are the favoured wingers in Guardiola’s attacking 4-3-3 formation. Bernardo Silva occasionally plays on the left-hand side of the front three, but beyond him, there appears to be no other viable option in the right or left-wing position in the current City squad.
Sane’s return will provide Guardiola with the necessary competition for Mahrez and Sterling. The 24-year old has been favoured on the left-hand side in this formation and Sterling’s injury in the Spurs game may present a good chance for Sané to build match-fitness. Some good performances could also earn him a place in the starting line-up.
Leroy Sane is an Unfinished Article
Sane joined City as a young prospect from FC Schalke in 2016 and made 29 starts in his maiden season. He showed glimpses of talent, demonstrating raw pace and directness in an attacking City side but occasionally squandered straightforward chances, or failed to pick the right pass at crucial moments.
His performances were more consistent before his injury. His decision making improved, as did his awareness to make intelligent passes and release the ball quickly.
The ACL injury which sidelined him for the first half of the season slowed Sane’s development. He is not yet the finished article and still has plenty to give for a City side both this season and in the future. If Guardiola allows Sane to leave the club, he could be difficult to replace and he would be losing a developing player who will peak in the next few years.
He has scored 31 goals for City in three seasons and assisted 36 goals in all competitions, proving he is capable of performing at the levels required under Guardiola.
Alternative Attacking Option
While the likes of Mahrez, Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva offer creativity and flair for City, Sane’s style of play provides an alternative.
Guardiola’s side have shown their capability to create big chances. They have created the highest amount of big chances (72) in the Premier League. However, they top the stats for most chances missed (55). This shows that the quick inter-play in the final third isn’t always effective.
Sane’s play offers bursts of pace, directness and flair. While this may not suit Guardiola’s philosophy and may explain why he hasn’t always favoured Sane in the starting line-up, it provides an attacking outlet to ease the pressure on the likes of De Bruyne, Sterling and Mahrez to create chances.