Sane leaving Man City: What it means for Sterling, Foden, Mahrez and Guardiola's other stars
After more than a year of speculation, Pep Guardiola has confirmed that Leroy Sane will leave Manchester City.
It is generally expected that the German winger will move to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich after refusing a new contract at the Etihad Stadium.
His existing terms expire in June 2021, although City is likely to start the 2020-21 campaign without Sane in their ranks.
A solution on the transfer market may not be easy to find given the two-season ban on the Champions League, which City appealed to the Sports Arbitration Panel, and the expected further economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Here we look at some players in Guardiola's squad who may or may not be affected by Sane's departure.
If Sane Guardiola's response to a broad striker had been picked up and his talent maximized to the extent that English star Sterling did, it would probably not be a conversation we would have. While City boss Sane's contribution seemed increasingly untrustworthy during last season's triple run-in, Sterling was and remains an integral part of his plans.
Playing almost exclusively on the left side during Sane's absence this season seemed to be a strain on the 25-year-old, whose penchant for a right foot cut was predictable and easier to defend. Sane's presence allowed him to switch sides and pose various questions of defense. If his departure means that Sterling is limited to left-wing tasks, City could struggle to fully utilize the abundant talents of its greatest attack threat.
Life as the second team of the club's top scorer, Sergio Aguero, seems at times difficult to burden Jesus, while he played a complete World Cup as Brazil's number nine without scoring goals - as he did with Russia in 2018 - and shook his confidence considerably.
The 23-year-old rehabilitated his reputation at Selecao in a far-right role during last season's Copa America triumph, while arguably showing his best city performance on the left when he played in the 2-1 Champions League in February the goal opened at Real Madrid win. As a selfless actor, Aguero and Sterling would have few complaints if Jesus filled this position more often.
Of the upcoming exits in Manchester City, David Silva's departure at the end of this season is considered the most significant for the suspected heir to Foden. Guardiola, however, put the English Under-21 playmaker to the left of the top three this season, especially when he was pushed into the EFL Cup final against Aston Villa and showed an irresistible performance.
Foden came off the bench against Arsenal and scored for the eleventh time in 63 games. He showed a keen eye for the gate again. He has an average of 2.5 chances per 90 minutes in the Premier League.
When Sane leaves, City will lack natural latitude on the left. A man who makes sure Mendy is left-back when he's fit and shoots, although after two knee surgeries since moving to Manchester in 2017, his difficulties mean that "if" does a lot of work.
Guardiola was always hesitant to pair Mendy and Sane, apparently because both men like to operate in similar areas of the field. Without the latter, Mendy would be free to move and Jesus could thrive in him as a hidden striker. The big question, however, is whether the Monaco-signed natural force threat attacking the city can ever really return after what his body has been through.
When Mahrez joined City in 2018, he was unable to reach the level he had reached in Leicester, where his mercury skills secured the PFA player of the year the most unlikely title win in the 2015/16 Premier League.
Most of the time, the Algerian star in the city looked like a sprout under Sterling and Sane in terms of elite quality. Mahrez '30 Premier League starts have scored 14 goals and 12 assists in sky blue at a rate comparable to that of Sane per 90 minutes. Maybe he can really thrive without him?
Braaf, the City Academy's youngest gem, has already amassed considerable personal following thanks to a few moments of individual skill for the age group teams that quickly went viral.
The city would certainly be reluctant for Braaf, who is reported to be admired by numerous clubs across Europe, to become the next Jadon Sancho and set out to be a superstar elsewhere at a staggering price. Sane's exit could give the diutch boy an entry.
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