Having been a long term target of Manchester City’s new manager Pep Guardiola for some time now, it’s no surprise that Leroy Sané has left Schalke for the Premier League this summer, with a move to happen imminently. A reported fee of €50 million will signal the end of a combined eight years in Gelsenkirchen for the son of former Senegal international Souleymane Sané.
The Essen-born winger’s rise has been meteoric; Sané featured for Germany at EURO 2016 despite having only made his first start for Schalke back in March 2014. He was a virtual ever-present for Schalke this season, steering clear of injury and burnout in his first full professional season, eventually bagging nine goals in all competitions and a further seven assists.
Sané is a very direct winger and frequently looks to commit defenders and run into space. His style of play has been compared to that of Arjen Robben, which, while not entirely the case, certainly holds an element of the truth; like Robben, Sané can often be accused of looking to create shooting opportunities for himself rather than finding teammates in better positions.
This will certainly have to be worked upon under Guardiola; decision-making is supposedly tough to coach, but at just 20-years-old and under one of the world’s premier coaches, Sané should be able to improve this aspect of his game.
Sané will bolster what are already an impressive set of attacking ranks in the Citizens’ squad, with fellow youngster Raheem Sterling joined by new signing Nolito and veteran Spaniard Jesus Navas on the wings, while former Bundesliga favourite Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Agüero and David Silva will also play key roles in City’s attack this coming season.
Suitable for playing on both flanks and also behind the striker, Sané’s relative versatility will help him get games in an impressive squad, while the need to hit the ground running immediately will be diminished, with other players able to step into the team should Sané initially struggle to adapt to the Premier League.
This looks unlikely, though; with physicality being one of his best traits, something which made the step-up to top level football at 19 look effortless, any fears that he should struggle with the pace and physicality of the English game should be allayed. It’s also not as if this has prevented Sané from making an impact before; he has been a key player in Gelsenkirchen from almost the start of his professional career.
Working with Guardiola should allow Sané to make the most of his potential, while playing for a club with a real prospect of progressing through to the latter rounds of the Champions League – something Schalke have struggled with in recent years and won’t take part in after finishing fifth in the Bundesliga last year – his international prospects for Germany have never looked stronger.
At €50m, the deal is relatively pricey, and there is a danger that it could, in the short term, look like a lot for a player who is still very raw and inconsistent. There is, however, a huge upside to the transfer thanks to Sané’s exorbitant potential, and with City’s megabucks the risk, for themselves at least, is low.