See­ing out sea­son with City never an op­tion, in­sists Sane

Ger­man ‘will not suf­fer’ if club win Cham­pi­ons League Winger full of praise for Guardi­ola de­spite Bay­ern move

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Football - By Ja­son Burt chief foot­ball cor­re­spendent

Leroy Sane has said it was “never an op­tion” for him to re­main at Manch­ester City un­til their Cham­pi­ons League cam­paign was com­plete.

The 24-year-old winger agreed to join Bay­ern Mu­nich at the be­gin­ning of this month, for a fee that is ex­pected to rise to £54.8 mil­lion, and im­me­di­ately re­turned to Ger­many, even though he could have played out the re­main­der of the cam­paign with City.

It means that Sane is not in­volved in City’s at­tempt fi­nally to win the Cham­pi­ons League, start­ing with the sec­ond leg of their last-16 tie against Real Madrid, but is also not el­i­gi­ble to play for Bay­ern, who are all but in the quar­ter-fi­nals.

How­ever, Sane said that, de­spite it be­ing “hard to say no to the Cham­pi­ons League”, he had de­cided that af­ter 10 months out with a se­ri­ous knee in­jury it was best if he moved to Bay­ern as quickly as pos­si­ble. City de­cided not to stand in his way.

“When the talks got deeper I knew I was go­ing to move,” Sane said. “I said al­ready I was talk­ing with Bay­ern and we all came to the de­ci­sion that it was bet­ter for me to come as soon as it was pos­si­ble.

“I said that it was fine be­cause we all know that if you go re­ally far in the Cham­pi­ons League, you will be done at the end of Au­gust. If I would have made the move then, it’s quite a short time un­til the new sea­son and to pre­pare well and set­tle in good would be dif­fi­cult, as you are com­ing to a new team in a dif­fer­ent coun­try. That’s why I said I was hope­ful it would hap­pen as soon as pos­si­ble. It was never an op­tion to leave af­ter the Cham­pi­ons League.

“If they [City] win it then I’m happy for the club and for all my friends there, but this was the way I went. If it re­ally hap­pens, I don’t think I will suf­fer with it a lot be­cause I made the de­ci­sion and no­body else… I just had a per­sonal feel­ing for my­self. It was not any­thing about Man City or any­thing else – if be­cause we’d now won ev­ery­thing or I’d now lost the hunger or any­thing [like that].”

City de­cided to sell the Ger­many in­ter­na­tional, who was in the fi­nal year of his con­tract, be­cause much to the club’s frus­tra­tion he re­fused to sign a new deal. Bay­ern’s in­ter­est is long-stand­ing and it had been thought they were close to agree­ing the trans­fer last Au­gust, be­fore Sane suf­fered an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment dam­age in the Com­mu­nity Shield, which scup­pered the move.

How­ever, Sane claimed that while talks had started, there would never have been enough time to com­plete the trans­fer then.

“I think it wouldn’t have hap­pened that I would have made the move to Bay­ern Mu­nich,” he said. “I was not re­ally in­volved in any­thing. There was pre-sea­son and then the first game. I just wanted to be fit for the first game, I had noth­ing in my mind about the move. I then had a bad in­jury. It is al­ways hard for ev­ery player when that hap­pens, so I just tried to put all my strengths into the re­hab and the re­cov­ery.”

Sane has fig­ured only once this sea­son – as a late sub­sti­tute in the 5-0 win over Burn­ley – with the sus­pi­cion that his re­fusal to sign a new deal had meant he had fallen out of favour with Guardi­ola. Even so, he was ful­some in his praise of the City man­ager who bought him from Schalke in 2016.

“When I came to City, I was 19 and I had just had one full sea­son, where I had played here in Ger­many and there was a lot to im­prove and in ev­ery area,” Sane said. “I can say I im­proved in ev­ery sin­gle area with him, doesn’t mat­ter what it is – tech­ni­cally, the po­si­tional game, my whole game changed a lot be­cause of the way he works and how he wants me to play. He brought me on to a com­pletely dif­fer­ent level.

“We won a few ti­tles, too, so I can only say that I grew as a per­son and a player. I just had a feel­ing that I needed some­thing new and that is why I came at the end to this de­ci­sion. I told them I wanted to move and this was the right de­ci­sion.”

Mean­while, for­mer Manch­ester City No 2, Mikel Arteta, be­lieves win­ning the FA Cup and fin­ish­ing eighth in the Premier League would not con­sti­tute a good sea­son for his Arse­nal side.

Arse­nal are 10th head­ing into their fi­nal game of the sea­son at home to rel­e­ga­tion-threat­ened Wat­ford. A win could see them fin­ish eighth, yet Arse­nal are again des­tined to fin­ish be­low north London neigh­bours Tot­ten­ham.

Asked if win­ning the Cup and fin­ish­ing eighth was good enough, Arteta replied: “No. For me this club de­serves the best and you have to be fight­ing for ev­ery ti­tle.

“If we win the fi­nal and qual­ify for Eu­rope, we can say it’s OK. But it’s not the level for this club.”

‘If I made the move in Au­gust, it’s a short time un­til the new sea­son and to pre­pare well would be dif­fi­cult’

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