Forward | Manchester City | Germany
Though Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering Manchester City side boast an embarrassment of riches, it is perhaps the rapid improvement of Leroy Sane under the Spaniard’s masterful watch that perfectly sums up his work at the Etihad.
Brought to England for roughly £37m back in 2016, Sane’s talent was always obvious. However, working with Guardiola, the German has grown from a prodigious wide talent into a genuinely top class attacker playing a pivotal role in one of the best teams to ever grace English soil.
Still, like with all young players, it’s not exactly been plain sailing.
2018 has been
Largely, it’s been successful.
In the year he turned, 22, Sane has registered a respectable 10 goals in and 13 assists during Premier League competition. When you consider the fact he has helped form one of the most potent attacks in Europe on his way to winning English football’s greatest prize, it looks to be a 12 months many would envy.
However, despite picking up a league winners’ medal and the EFL Cup, during which he scored and assisted during City’s two-legged encounter with Bristol City in the semi-finals, it’s not been as easy for Sane as it perhaps should have been.
The winger made no contribution to City’s Champions League campaign last season after the turn of the year and, a few months later, was infamously left out of Germany’s squad for the 2018 World Cup. Now, perhaps that’s Jurgi Lowe’s fault more than anyone else’s, though question marks about his attitude have arisen in the last few months following on from that.
What makes it such a frustrating year for the forward has been the fact he’s often put in the kind of performances that completely oppose some of the thinking that seemingly went behind leaving him out of the trip to Russia. Working under Guardiola, the sight of Sane pressing high and tracking back at the Etihad hinted at a player with a tactical understanding far beyond his years.
So, capable of doing it, some of his more pedestrian outings become far more prominent. Despite his difficult summer, there didn’t seem to be much in the way of a desire to prove everyone wrong at the start of the season, with Guardiola opting to leave him out of his match day squad for the win at home to Newcastle in August amid more attitude concerns.
At his best in 2018, Sane made it look easy. At his worst, he made it look as if he wasn’t interested at all.
While there have been some fairly low moments (well, relative the sterling success he’s enjoyed) it would be hard to bet against Sane becoming one of the best players in the world. A supremely gifted wide forward who can either score or assist with such ease, he has everything needed to make it to the very top. In 2019 and beyond, he just needs to show he’s got the desire to stay there.