Signed in the summer of 2018 for about £2m, Philippe Sandler was expected to develop into a top-class defender at Manchester City. Of course, signing any talented youngster will always be a gamble of some sort. Several factors usually go into play to determine if a young player ends up fulfilling their potential or falls by the wayside.
How many times have we heard of the next Ronaldo, Messi or Neymar? Yet, rarely do such youngsters come remotely close to the level displayed by these beasts. That is why they are irreplaceable.
A lot goes into the making of a superstar. Sometimes even hard work is not enough. Other factors such as injuries, just being at the wrong club or under the wrong manager are all it takes for a potentially successful career to be derailed.
One bad injury could spell the end of a promising career. So can one bad decision. Not everyone is as lucky as Julian Nagelsmann and Ryan Mason to transition to the dugout after suffering a premature end to their playing careers.
Some can even win laurels despite having to spend a considerable amount of time on the treatment table like Owen Hargreaves. For others though, injuries can be their undoing. Sandler should do everything to avoid adding to this statistics.
At a time when the Amsterdam-born centre-back should be establishing himself as one of the best young players in his position, he is struggling for game time. Worst of all is the fact that it’s not at City; it’s at lowly Troyes (with all due respect).
The 24-year-old was sent out on loan to the French side to get much-needed game time after a disappointing spell at Anderlecht last season. He only made 11 appearances for the Belgian side before suffering a knee injury that required surgery. That kept him out for the best part of a year running through the 2019/20 and the 2020/21 season.
After recovering back at City, he could only manage a few appearances for the u23 side at the end of last season. It’s concerning that Pep Guardiola didn’t consider keeping him in the squad despite losing Eric Garcia to Barcelona.
If getting regular playing time was the main reason for his loan move to City’s sister club Troyes, then things are not going according to plan. That’s because Sandler is barely getting any game time at the newly promoted French side.
Since the beginning of the campaign, he has played 13 minutes as a sub in one game and was taken off after 58 minutes of his only start so far. That gives an impression of a lack of confidence in the player from the manager.
That’s hardly a conducive environment for a young player to develop. Under these conditions, the purpose of the loan is defeated.
At 24, Sandler can no longer hide under the tag of being an upcoming player. He should be well established in a team showing what he is capable of. His performance will motivate City to bring him back and give him a chance in the senior team.
That’s something he desires as he revealed after featuring in City’s 4-0 win over Barnsley during pre-season. He spoke about his plan for the future in an interview after the game.
“The target is to play as many games as possible,” he said.
“If it’s here or somewhere else I don’t know but I just need to play as many games [as possible]. I’ve been injured for a long time now so I need to see where it is, but as long as I play.
“It’s been a long time so to be back playing with the guys is the best feeling, so I’m really happy.”
Unfortunately, that is not happening at Troyes. And with time running out on his contract at City, it’s difficult to see any light at the end of the tunnel.