Schalke fan and editor Ali opens up about Sane and just what City fans can expect
So Leroy Sane is now a Citizen, finally being confirmed as a Manchester City player on Monday after Schalke 04 confirmed he wouldn't be joining them in Austria for their training camp. After months of wrangling and back-and-forward between the two clubs, a deal was finally agreed on, suggested to be around €49 million once add-ons have been considered. It looks like a lot of money for a young star, just a year after City risked £50 million on Raheem Sterling (a gamble that is yet to pay off).
Much has been said about Sane, but as a Schalke fan who was lucky enough to watch the young star on several occasions last season I would like to add my voice to the conversation and pass on his strengths and weakness to the City fans wanting to know just what sort of young talent they have signed and how quickly they can expect to see him playing a starring role for their side.
Let's start with the positives, which are clear and well documented: his electric pace and dribbling. Sane has the ability to run at players and frighten them with his speed, knocking the ball past them and running beyond them before they have a chance to react. Against weaker defences this worked well: his blitzing goal against Eintracht Frankfurt towards the start of last season was a wonderful solo effort and really woke the Bundesliga up to the potential of the 20 year old starlet. His composure on the ball and confidence to do it all himself when Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was stood unmarked on the penalty area screaming for the ball spoke volumes and that goal really marked him out as a player to watch. His control is generally spot on and running in behind will get him plenty of success against teams who play a high line, as shown on the final day when he scuffed in his final goal in Schalke blue away at Hoffenheim after blitzing away from Fabian Schär and co.
Here's the downside: his passing and crossing are woeful at times and if you're expecting Sane to be able to slip that final through ball in for Sergio Aguero then I think you'll be waiting a while. With practice and experience he will get better, but at times fans in the stands were left screaming at him to simply run with it because if he tried to pass it he would kill attacks dead. In the Europa League clash with Shakhtar Donetsk, a match in which Schalke were humiliated 3-0 at home, he halted a couple of quick counter-attacks by passing inaccurately to team mates rather than simply running at the Shakhtar right back. His decision making needs to improve, his distribution needs to significantly develop and his final ball needs work too. Remember Jesus Navas City fans? Well, you've just signed his younger, German counterpart.
Good news though, Citizens! He is still young and certainly looks like he has the potential to add all that to his game. City have certainly worked on that principle with his transfer fee, an astronomical amount for a player untested in the Champions League and with less than 50 games under his belt. They clearly see a player who will be a world-beater in the future and Sane has already said Pep Guardiola was a key reason in his decision to leave Schalke, so things could work out really well for the popular youngster who Schalke fans will be sad to see leave but will acknowledge is too good for the club in its current form.
A risky investment it may be, and a massive over-payment I would say it certainly is, but for that money City can be fairly confident they will be getting a sensible, mature player. There is no Mario Balotelli-type baggage, no Paul Pogba arrogance, just a young player well brought up in a very successful academy system. Under a coach renowned for making players better there is every chance Sane will one day grow into a €50 million player, but for now City fans will have to hope he progresses very quickly and uses his chances in the first team well. Otherwise you could have another Sterling or Navas on your hands; all the potential, all the pace, all the trickery, but little to show at the end of it.
Nobody wants to see Sane fail, but Schalke fan will have no complaints if he "does a Götze" and returns to the club in a couple of years for a fraction of the cost. After all, he is a fantastic prospect.
Editor and Schalke fan
This is where it all begins. Our resident analysts study the unrecognised players and examine the matches that are of interest across Europe.