Jadon Sancho’s call-up to the England squad last week evoked a whole host of questions concerning Manchester City’s decision to offload him last summer, but in Leroy Sane they have a far superior talent who is destined to sit an elite table alongside the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Eden Hazard.
Borussia Dortmund’s 18-year-old prodigy will taste his first experience of senior international football when England take on Croatia this evening in a repeat of the World Cup semi-final.
It’s rare for English players to move overseas and work their way into the national side, so naturally excitement is brewing ahead of a potential debut for Sancho.
With Sancho’s rapid development in the Bundesliga and his international call-up in mind, plenty of Man City supporters have been feeling a deep sense of regret about his departure, but with Leroy Sane at the club they have absolutely no reason to dwell on the teenager’s decision.
Sancho rejected a £30,000 per week offer from Man City so it seems clear that he made the bold decision with the best interests of his career in mind and there was little else the club could have done to keep him in Manchester.
Meanwhile, it would appear that Joachim Lowe has learned from the terminal error of leaving Leroy Sane out of his World Cup squad by including him in Germany’s 23-man squad for their upcoming fixtures against France and Holland.
Some would say that justice was served at the World Cup after Lowe made the simply bewildering and fatal decision to leave a future Ballon d’Or contender out of his World Cup squad.
It’s been a funny old few months for Sane as hints of deja vu surfaced when Pep Guardiola inflicted a similar same fate upon the electric 22-year-old by omitting him from the squad which faced Newcastle United back in September.
After deservedly claiming the PFA Young Player of the Year award last season, the decision making of both his international and club managers hinted that something ominous was going on with Sane, but he has turned a significant corner since being dropped for Newcastle and he is back on track to becoming one of the world’s most devastating attacking players.
1 goal and 2 assists from 3 starts immediately followed his surprise absence against the Magpies, and his impact from the substitutes bench handed City an opportunity to take three points from Anfield for the first time since 2003 last Sunday, but we all know how that turned out.
Seducing the typically composed and level-headed Virgil Van Dijk into a high-risk lunge inside the penalty area is a skill reserved exclusively for the elite few: a club which Sane belongs to.
In an era when the narrative being constructed places Kylian Mbappe and Neymar at the forefront of a post-Messi and Ronaldo future, Sane is something of a dark horse challenger for the prestigious Ballon d’Or award.
The first time I saw Sane play in the flesh was during a Champions League tie against Borussia Monchengladbach which was infamously postponed until the following evening after a torrential downpour left the pitch waterlogged and deemed unsafe by the officials.
With City cruising in a 3-0 lead, Guardiola withdrew Raheem Sterling and sent on Sane (valued at £81 million by Transfermarkt) in his place.
Highlight reels and expert opinions from Bundesliga journalists could not have prepared me for the mind-blowing agility which came next: Sane collected the ball on the right-wing, dropped his shoulder and almost simultaneously passed the ball inside. The blinking of an eye later and he was racing through the left channel and screaming for a return pass.
Like a Gazelle racing across an African grassland, Sane showcased an elegance which, even in the midst of nearly ten years of extravagant spending by Sheikh Mansour, had never previously graced the hallowed turf of the Etihad Stadium. No, this boy was cut from a different cloth; different gravy; destined for international supremacy.
I swore from that moment that Sane would win the Ballon d’Or one day. In the midst of a Sane-infused hype it may have been a touch sensationalist but, on the evidence of how he has developed, there’s no doubt that he is destined to be in the mixer for football’s most prestigious individual award over the course of the next decade.
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