As featured on NewsNow: Football news

Leroy Sane & Pep: Why quitting Man City would be biggest career regret

COMMENT: Surely not? Leroy Sane. Surely he's not going to quit Manchester City? Settle for easy street and throw away the one opportunity to fulfill his potential...?

Well, that's what it's looking like today. Amid accusations of a lax attitude. Of poor application. The Germany international is now closer to the exit door. And potentially a Bundesliga return.

And should it happen. Should Sane and Mum, Regina. Who does the contract negotiations on Leroy's behalf. Should they decide he's better off elsewhere. It'll be the worst decision of his career.

How could anyone claim otherwise? After all, it wasn't suppose to be Sane who would be falling out with the manager. Sergio Aguero was more the likely candidate. Even Raheem Sterling. Yet, look at 'em today.

Just consider Aguero. Now on the wrong side of 30. Remember those early months together? The question marks of whether he could adapt to Pep Guardiola's demands? Indeed, whether he was even willing to do so? Yet today, Aguero is playing as well as he has at any stage of his career. The Argentine, with application and a responsive attitude, re-establishing himself as City's No1 striker. "He's a legend", declared his manager just last week.

And what of Sterling? An English footballer. Surely lacking the sophistication. The required technique. To meet Guardiola's demands? And like Aguero, it did look that way in his first season under the Catalan. Yet today, we see a footballer fulfilling expectations. Wringing every last drop of potential from what God has given him. All through the guidance of his manager. Sincerely, just what is running through Sane's mind...?

Yes, Guardiola has used him in a limited role this season. And yes, he has been critical of Sane in public. But the City manager isn't alone. Teammates. German football identities. They've also said their penny's worth. And what's important. Indeed, significant. Is that all this criticism has been shaped in a constructive - even appealing - way. Those who have spoken out this season have done so in an almost pleading fashion. Urging him to improve where its needed. Not just for his sake. But also the team's.

Just consider City and Germany teammate Ilkay Gundogan: "Do you have to shake Sane sometimes? Of course you do. If he is a little too comfortable, that sometimes isn't good."

That theme of falling into a comfort zone was one also picked up by Sane's Germany teammate, Toni Kroos.

A World Cup and Champions League winner. Kroos has been to the pinnacle - and feels Sane has the ability to do the same. But like Gundogan, he can see the 23 year-old's mentality holding him back.

"Yes, he could be world class. But one has the feeling that he has to be told what to do to become that. Maybe that's the same reason in Manchester as well. I do not know, I'm not there either," says Kroos, before the appeal.

"But what's clear is that you have to find a way to get him to reach his top performance. Then he would be a huge addition for us with his qualities, which are relatively rare when you look at our squad."

And that's just it. At City. In Germany. They know what they have on their hands. Sane could be anything. If he can get his head right. Just consider what Meikel Schönweitz, recently appointed as head of Germany's youth coaching, says.

On what the Federation sees as the archetype of the future German national team player, Schonweitz was adamant.

"We are currently looking for dribbling, fast-paced outside strikers - the Sanes of this world," he declared. "We want more players of this quality on the pitch who are creative minds."

Indeed, Guardiola echoes the same, "Sane is the best long running dribbler in the world", he stated to German reporters after their recent Champions League rout of his No19's former club, Schalke.

Sane scored and produced three assists on the night as City thumped home seven. A five-star performance according to most of the visiting German media.

"No!" was Guardiola's response in the post-match presser. "After the first goal, yes, before that no, he was not aggressive enough in the first 20 minutes.

"He needs to do more on the ball, even when he loses it."

Before again, like Gundogan and Kroos, Guardiola offered the carrot: "We know all about his special abilities, skills that are hard to find around the world."

Aguero was prepared to break down his game and rebuild it again to Guardiola's demands. Sterling the same. And both have seen their humility and sacrifice rewarded ten fold. There's really no reason why Sane cannot tread the same path.

Again, Kroos: "We do not have a player like Leroy with his quality. With speed, with the left foot. He played an outstanding season with Manchester last year. Still, you get the feeling, just like now with Pep, that he sees him this way and shakes him a bit - and does not let him play.

"He wants to get the most out of him. If he shows that, he would be an absolute weapon for us."

Cutting ties with City - and most importantly Guardiola - will be a decision Sane will regret for the rest of his life.

Chris Beattie
About the author

Chris Beattie

Have your say

Subscribe and go ad-free

For only $10 a year

  1. Go Ad-Free
  2. Faster site experience
  3. Support great writing
  4. Subscribe now
Launch Offer: 2 months free

Subscribe and go ad-free

For only $10 a year

Subscribe now
Launch Offer: 2 months free