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Bye Bye Leroy: Assessing Sane’s four years in the Premier League

Leroy Sane’s career in English football has reached its conclusion after one of the worst kept secrets in football was confirmed this week, the winger completing a long-awaited move to Bayern Munich.

Sane has established himself as one of the most exciting talents in the Premier League since his arrival at Manchester City four years ago, the jet-heeled star playing a key role in the club’s wealth of successes since Pep Guardiola’s arrival at the Etihad.

He will, however, play his football in the Bundesliga next season after completing a move to Munich in a deal which could be worth a reported £54.1m, and following his departure we’ve decided to assess the German’s impact in England’s top tier:

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Sane burst onto the scene in his homeland after coming through the ranks at Schalke, making his debut as a teenager and quickly developing a reputation as one of the most exciting prospects in the Bundesliga.

The winger’s displays had garnered the attention of Pep Guardiola, the Spaniard having witnessed Sane’s talents at close quarters during his time in charge of Bayern Munich and swiftly made the signing of the youngster a priority following his appointment at the Etihad in 2016.

Sane arrived in the August of the new manager’s first summer in charge after a £37m fee was agreed, with Guardiola hugely excited about the club’s latest addition.

“He is a special talent and an exciting player that I think our supporters will enjoy watching.

“He has great technical ability, is comfortable on the ball and there is much to admire about the way he plays football,

“He is fast, enjoys creating chances for others, works hard for the team and scores goals too. He also has a very positive attitude and will fit in well.”

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Sane’s first season proved one of adaptation as he adjusted to the rigorous demands of English football, Guardiola’s side struggling for consistency despite an initial flying start to the Premier League campaign.

It would take until a December victory over Arsenal for Sane to register his first goal for the club, though he showed promise despite being phased into the side, scoring five times and providing a further three assists in 20 Premier League starts.

City finished the campaign in third and Guardiola quickly moved to address his side’s issues, a lavish summer spend seeing the likes of Ederson, Kyle Walker and Bernardo Silva arrive as the Manchester side flexed their financial muscle.

The club’s expensively assembled side began the following season in fine form and would embark on a historic campaign, with Sane – flourishing following a season of development – at the heart of the side’s success.

The winger was exhilarating during a campaign that saw Guardiola’s side finish with a record haul of 100 points, setting new landmarks for most wins, most consecutive wins, most goals scored and biggest winning margin after finishing a huge 19 points clear of Manchester United.

Sane scored ten league goals and provided a further 15 assists, his style a throw-back to past generations. The modern game has seen left-footed players playing on the left-hand side become a rarity, but Sane revelled in running at opposition full-backs and providing tantalising deliveries into the penalty area.

Lightening quick from a standing start and possessing a wicked delivery from the flank, the German swiftly became a nightmare proposition for Premier League defences and his performances were recognised with the PFA Young Player of the Year award – becoming the first Manchester City player in 42 years to win the prize.

Sane’s stellar season seemed to point to a player capable of becoming one of the very best in Europe, but even Premier League title success was not enough to convince those in his homeland.

The winger was surprisingly – and somewhat bizarrely – left out of Germany’s squad for that summer’s World Cup, but responded by playing an influential role once more as City made it back-to-back Premier League crowns and secured English football’s first ever domestic treble.

Despite reduced minutes amid increased competition from Riyad Mahrez, Sane once again proved one of the most effective attacking talents in the division, becoming one of just two players – alongside teammate Raheem Sterling – to reach double figures for both goals and assists in 2017/18 and 2018/19.

Perhaps no goal was as crucial as a vital winner against title rivals Liverpool at the Etihad, Sane rifling home an unstoppable effort against Jurgen Klopp’s side as City pipped the Reds to the title by just a single point.

Sane’s devastating effectiveness marked him out as one of the stars of the division even if Guardiola at times seemingly demonstrated a lack of trust, the German in-and-out of the City side even with statistics that stand up alongside the Premier League’s very best.

Only Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Manchester City teammate Sergio Aguero have provided more direct goal contributions-per-minute than the 24-year-old since the beginning of the 2017/18 season, Sane providing 45 goals and assists during that time at an average of one every 0.94 games.

Those performances were what first attracted Bayern Munich and the German giants made an initial approach last summer, though discussions over a mega-money deal were ended following a serious knee injury sustained in the Community Shield victory over Liverpool in August.

The Bavarians, however, were desperate to strengthen their wide options and returned this summer, holding a stronger position than previously given Sane’s contract situation at the Etihad.

The Germany international had informed City’s of his desire for a new challenge and refused to sign an extension to a contract that had just a year remaining, the club opting to cash in rather than risk losing the player for free in a year’s time.

City’s loss will almost certainly prove to be Bayern’s gain despite Sane’s injury problems of late, the winger already a formidable forward threat and player yet to reach the peak of his powers.

His raw mix of pace and technical ability will offer a different dimension to the German champion’s attack next season, with Robert Lewandowski likely to welcome the addition of a player who has demonstrated his creative class during four seasons in the Premier League.

Sane is yet to truly establish himself as a regular at international level despite winning seven major honours during his time at Manchester City, and a return to the Bundesliga could move him back to the forefront of Joachim Low’s thoughts.

The pulling power of Bayern Munich ultimately proved too strong for Sane to resist, a side who recently secured their eighth consecutive Bundesliga title and are regulars in the latter stages of the Champions League.

Sane’s final farewell to the club may have been an injury-ravaged campaign but he will undoubtedly be remembered fondly by the City support, a wing wizard who provided plenty of magic moments and one likely to continue his ascent to the upper echelons of the game in Munich.

Read – Remembering Yaya Toure’s monstrous performance during the 13/14 Premier League season

Read Also – Five of the best counter-attacking goals in Premier League history

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