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
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’