How Will Leroy Sane Fit In at Manchester City?
Leroy Sane arrives in Manchester as a cool £37 million welcoming gift for new manager Pep Guardiola. A 20-year-old with abundant talent and exceptional experience for his age, how and where does Sane fit into Manchester City’s plans?
Sane was strong enough on the right side at FC Schalke 04 last season to commandeer a starting role, and he put up relatively impressive stats in the process.
However, the concern isn’t his inexperience or youth, but the plethora of attacking players he will have to compete with to get on the pitch at Manchester City.
Guardiola is no stranger to giving playing time to youth, but high expectations in a league expected to have a lot of parity may force his hand to get veterans in the lineup rather than youngsters.
Creating 14 goals in 31 appearances is a good year for any winger, and there’s reason to believe that the past few years of professional experience in the physically tough Bundesliga -- not to mention a little bit of exposure to the Champions League -- will help prepare Sane for the Premier League.
It wouldn’t be surprising to see the ranks sift out at the Etihad, but with the confirmed addition of Brazilian Gabriel Jesus and continued reports of Colombian Marlos Moreno coming soon coming soon, two or three departures wouldn’t change the level and depth of competition for attacking spots -- although Jesus will remain in Brazil until January and Moreno would likely see the bench/reserves before anyone else in the pecking order.
However, Guardiola has established his ability to fit as much talent as he can in a squad without losing defensive or offensive capabilities, most recently seen at Bayern Munich, which saw an array of formations and position changes over the past few years.
Sane can play in the center of the pitch, but he’s at his best out wide, and that’s likely where Guardiola will use him with De Bruyne and David Silva spending more time inside. With Sane on the right side, Sterling or Nolito will likely battle for time on the left.
|Kevin De Bruyne||13||9||26 (5)|
|David Silva||2||11||26 (2)|
|Jesus Navas||1||7||29 (13)|
|Raheem Sterling||8||2||28 (9)|
|Samir Nasri||2||2||4 (8)|
Nasri and Navas seem like excess, but Navas could stay to provide pressure on Sane for the right winger spot, and that’s not to mention that De Bruyne is as comfortable on the right side as he is centrally.
The other concern for Sane’s playing time could be the stability of the Citizen defense. Should injury strike the back four or the lack of defensive help from the midfield become a problem, Sane looks like an expendable option for more defensive help in the form of Fernandinho or Yaya Toure, if the latter ends up staying in Manchester.
City let in 41 goals last season, the most in any one campaign during their time under ex-boss Manuel Pellegrini, and they have yet to sign a defender. While Ilkay Gundogan is a central midfielder that can essentially do it all, he's probably not going to solve all of City's defensive woes by himself. Solidifying the center-back position with another signing and potentially another defensive midfielder would soothe a lot of possible concerns.
In all, Sane offers the level of talent to start for Man City, but the level of competition and potential need for better defensive help could see the promising winger in-and-out of the squad. Sane’s greatest impact is what he can bring in the long-term. He should certainly contribute this upcoming season, but allowing Guardiola to make the German winger in his ideal image could be an investment that pays off a few years down the road.