One of the biggest surprises of the ongoing campaign for Manchester City has been the reduction of Leroy Sane’s role in the team. For a player who was central to City’s performance last season taking home the PFA Player of the Year award as the club dominated English football, much was expected from him this season. But things have not quite been the same for the German.
First, it was a snub from national team manager for the World Cup in the summer.
Then, Pep Guardiola has changed his preferred best XI in the league, especially when it comes to the most important games. In fact, in all competitions. Unfortunately for Sane, he has been the biggest loser in the current scheme of things. To be fair to the Catalan manager, the team has been performing and was gunning for an unprecedented quadruple of trophies until the cruel outing from the Champions League at the hands of Tottenham recently.
That Guardiola’s preferred wide men Bernardo Silva and Raheem Sterling have both been included in the shortlist for the Premier League Player of the Season award tells how good these players have been. But that doesn’t make Sane indispensable by any means. If anything, his inclusion makes the team even stronger. Like he demonstrated against Liverpool during the crunch tie in January, he can do the needed damage at crucial times.
It’s important to note that Bernardo Silva’s preferred position is in the midfield. The Portuguese was brought in as an understudy and subsequent replacement for his namesake, David Silva. As a matter of fact, the Spaniard has not been as influential in the team this season. And that’s perfectly understandable. At 33 Silva’s career is on the wane. This is the time he should be sharing time on the pitch with his successor. If any player should have limited time on the pitch among the names already mentioned, it should be the Spaniard as Bernardo takes over.
Leroy Sane should be a constant in the wings for City, especially in the big games. That comes with many benefits. Firstly, the young man will be settled in the team and there will be no talk of seeking a transfer. Speculations have continued to swell about his future as he is yet to put pen to paper on a new deal to remain at the Etihad Stadium. With his contract set to expire in 2021, the club may consider selling him if he refuses to commit to new terms as he could leave on a free if the contract is allowed to run down.
Secondly, the team will be stronger with him as a key part. Playing regularly and in the big games will do a world of good to his confidence and form which in turn affects the team. He was sorely missed against Tottenham in the Champions League, especially in the first leg. As it turned out, that was where City lost out on qualification having failed to score. Drafting in Riyad Mahrez in place of the injured Bernardo Silva was a mistake by the manager. Sane would have offered much more to the team if allowed to play.
All the same, it’s difficult to blame the manager for his choices as he sees the players in training and obviously knows more than those of us looking from outside in. There are usually several factors to consider when making these decisions, including the manager’s game plan for the day. It does seem like the German winger is not giving enough in training. The Catalan manager has previously stated how performance in training is crucial to his player selection for games. Therefore, Sane will need to show he is up for the challenge.