Assessing where we are with the Leroy Sane to Bayern Munich transfer story that already feels very much like a drawn-out saga takes us down any number of rabbit holes.
On May 30th, The Guardian reported that the back-to back Premier League champions had turned down a bid of £70.7m for their exciting winger. That very same day, Jack Gaughan from the Mail tweeted that no firm bid has yet been made to Manchester City.
City still to field a bid for Leroy Sane. Bayern will make one but hasn’t arrived yet.
— Jack Gaughan (@Jack_Gaughan) May 30, 2019
The same uncertainties surround the player’s intentions. Last week reliable Sky Sports reporter Torben Hoffmann (via Bavarian Football Works) claimed that the Bavarian giants are out of luck because the 19-cap international simply has no desire to return to the Bundesliga. Scroll to the bottom of the link, however, and you will find an update containing a quote from Sportbild’s Christian Falk claiming that Sane was on holiday in Dubai with his family considering his options.
So as per in these situations it is rumour followed by counter-rumour, gossip and outright falsehoods and, as always, to make better sense of what is currently going on – and where it might ultimately lead – it is necessary to stick to facts with some intuition thrown in too.
We can assume that Bayern want Sane and want him badly. We know this because – as is their modus operandi – they have skirted ethics and talked publicly about their target often. To offer one of many examples, Bayern chairman Karl-Heinze Rummenigge said at the season’s end: “We will try. I cannot promise whether it will succeed”, directly referring to their attempt to lure the attacker back home. Furthermore, it’s a switch that is logical from their perspective with Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery moving elsewhere this summer.
Additionally it is a move that segues perfectly with a narrative that has built up some credence in recent months. It’s a narrative that goes something like this: due to Sane’s protracted contract dispute along with a perceived attitude problem, Pep Guardiola has grown weary and distrustful of his flying wide-man. Subsequently, he turned to him less and less as a scintillating title race reached its conclusion. This has resulted in a breakdown in their relationship.
The problem here is that we encounter another grey area. Sane started 21 times in the Premier League this season and another four times in the Champions League, all while competing for a starting berth alongside the likes of Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez. He finished the season with a whopping 16 goals and 18 assists – an incredible return for a player who wasn’t a guaranteed starter.
As for his contract dispute, though, it’s true that Guardiola infamously has little tolerance for players causing distractions, but then that doesn’t explain why Ilkay Gundogan saw his game-time dramatically increase as the campaign wore on, and this despite the German having his own contract dramas.
This though can be balanced out by the winger’s form and impact. In his first 21 matches of 2018/19, Sane was responsible for 10 assists. In his last 10 he made precisely one.
Regarding the relationship between player and coach, it should be noted that Guardiola has always taken a carrot and stick approach to Sane, as illustrated in this Manchester Evening News item. He does so to fire his talented star up; to get the best out of him.
If this is no longer the case however – as the stats above show – then where does this leave us? With a player once integral now on the periphery and feeling unloved. A player coveted by a club that can promise silverware and glory as much as his present employer. A player who feels undervalued in his own country with a hunger to prove himself there.
Frankly it would not be the greatest surprise if Leroy Sane accepted terms should the clubs reach a financial agreement. And few could blame him for doing so.