Leroy Sane was one of the standout performers of Manchester City’s multi-record breaking 2017/18 campaign, but he has been on something of a downward trajectory ever since Joachim Low left him out of the Germany World Cup squad.
With electric pace, unpredictable quick-feet and a killer instinct in and around the penalty area, Leroy Sane was every defenders worst nightmare last season.
The manner in which Sane would carve through his opponents with his gazelle-like running style and classy technique was truly a footballing marvel to behold, but it’s just not quite happened for him since the end of last season.
His omission from the Germany World Cup squad was one of the most sensationally shocking stories of the entire summer, and the 21-year-old suffered another gut-wrenching fate last weekend as Pep Guardiola left him out of the match-day squad to face Newcastle United.
Nope, not even on the bench. His uncharacteristically sloppy appearance off the substitutes bench against Wolverhampton Wanderers clearly upset the City boss and he now finds himself as the subject of a mini media frenzy.
In light of Sane’s recent omission at City, a supporter asked Martin Keown for his thoughts on the situation during his weekly Q&A live blog with the Daily Mail, and his response was rather intriguing.
Keown cited the arrival of Riyad Mahrez (valued at £54 million by Transfermarkt) as a potential reason for Guardiola’s decision, suggesting that he ‘isn’t handling the competition that well’.
A quick look at how both players performed last season shows that they had remarkably similar returns, although it’s difficult to compare them considering Mahrez was the jewel in Leicester’s crown and Sane was a superstar surrounded by superstars.
Taking Sane’s unprecedented success during the 2017/18 season into account, it’s fair to say Keown’s admission wrongly depicts Sane as a weak character who is not up to the challenge of facing healthy competition.
Sure, Sane is a young player with plenty to learn but there is no way that he should feel intimidated by Mahrez’s arrival, not only in terms of the quality both players comparatively possess, but also due to the fact that they typically operate in different positions.
Mahrez may well force Sterling onto the left-wing and put Sane in direct competition with the England international, but until City’s newly-recruited winger proves his worth then Sane has no reason to fear for his long-term future as a first-team regular.
There’s absolutely no way Sane would have achieved the success he managed last season if he wasn’t a player who thrived off pressure and healthy competition for first-team places, so Keown would be wise to dig a little deeper for an explanation next time regarding a situation which has, in truth, been massively blown out of proportion since Guardiola omitted him last weekend.
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