Leroy Sane: the Erratic Genius

Football has emerged as an extremely lucrative career path over the years with the steady commercialisation of the game. Some of the best footballers ever- Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Suarez, Franck Ribery, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Luka Modric hailed from poverty-stricken families before steadily rising up the ladder, enthralling the world with their brilliance. Such examples have been cited as an immense source of motivation by emerging footballers like Gabriel Jesus who confessed to drawing inspiration from superstar Ronaldinho’s meteoric growth over the years.

Footballers have developed as extremely marketable ambassadors and are being afforded jaw-dropping wages by their respective clubs these days. At the same time, there is a reasonable cost involved to modern-day football despite the steady inflow of riches with an enhanced level of scrutiny into the behaviour and personal lives of the players. Footballers are expected to act as the perfect role models for aspiring youngsters with attitude, disciplinary issues a strict no-no. This emphasis has cost many promising youngsters a career in the game following a bright start with Manchester City youngster Leroy Sane deemed on the brink of a similar decline by critics following recent controversies.

The 22-year-old was ruthlessly axed from Germany’s 23-man squad for the recently concluded world cup by manager Joachim Löw with Bayer Leverkusen winger Julian Brandt preferred ahead of him.

Löw refused to blame the youngster’s attitude despite concrete news reports citing his performances for Germany as the determining factor behind the decision. ”Leroy has absolutely huge talent. But he’s not really arrived yet in his games for the national teams. There’s absolutely no problem off the pitch,” elaborated Löw. “Leroy has conducted himself correctly and very professionally. But we had to make a decision because the squad has to be balanced.”

German team-mate Toni Kroos, on the other hand, was hardly as diplomatic following an early exit with his barbed remarks indicating the immense frustration surrounding Sane’s attitude. “Sometimes you have the feeling with Leroy’s body language that it is all the same whether we win or lose,” said Kroos. “He has to improve his body language. He’s a player who has everything you need to be a world-class player but sometimes you have to tell him he has to perform better.”

“He was fantastic for City last year but Pep has the same problem at the moment – he’s trying to get the best out of him so he can perform better. If he performs, he’s a real weapon, honestly. He has the quality especially for us, but maybe the head coach looked at his performances for the national team and wasn’t happy.”

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola granted the youngster his first ever start this season against Fulham in the 5th game week of the EPL with a few minutes afforded off the bench in previous fixtures. While the Spanish manager chose to downplay questions surrounding the youngster’s attitude, there were many who termed Sane’s shambolic cameo against the Wolves as a major source of displeasure for Guardiola.

Despite all the speculation surrounding the lad’s future, Sane gave a fitting response to all those who dared to question him with a stunning performance against Fulham. The German winger ensured a 100% win record for the Citizens scoring the opening goal in a 3-0 win with just 97 seconds on the clock. His performance drew special praise from Arsenal legend Ian Wright who hailed him as one to watch out for.

“He’s 22, last season he was young player of the year but he didn’t go to with the Germany team to the World Cup,” said Wright. “You’ve got Toni Kroos accusing him of his attitude. His manager, if you read between the lines, it seems like that’s the problem there.”

“But when you’re talking about someone with the ability he’s got, the pace, the skill, the eye for goal, he was electric today. Fulham couldn’t get anywhere near him because he was so sharp, so good. He was either on the touchline or he’d come inside off the line and they still didn’t know where to pick him up from.”

Leroy Sane was an integral figure of Manchester City’s record-breaking domestic campaign last season, contributing with goals and assists under pressure. The 22-year-old was gifted the PFA young player of the year award as a testimony to his impact over the course of the season despite enjoying a poor pre-season in Guardiola’s words. The ex-Schalke attacker can shatter the most formidable of defences with his artistic footwork and electrifying pace enjoying the ability to emerge as a match-winner for his side.

The talent and creativity is certainly evident in his gameplay with the youngster’s stunning performance against Fulham an indication of his ability to overcome any off-field issues plaguing his development in the coming months.

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