Schalke 04 winger Leroy Sane has attracted the attention of a number of leading clubs since bursting onto the scene last season. His swashbuckling displays have caught the eye of many an admirer and it emerged that Liverpool made an enquiry about him during the summer that Schalke rebuffed. Now though, with the January transfer window open, interest in him has reignited with Manchester City rumoured to have joined Liverpool in the group of clubs keen to recruit the young German, who recently made his International debut. But why all the interest in a young player with such little experience? Well here we look at why some of the Premier League biggest clubs are ready to spend big on the boy from Germany’s industrial heartland.
As the son of an Olympic gymnast and a professional footballer, it’s no cliché to say that Leroy Sane has high-level sport in his blood. However, no-one reaches the top of professional sport by birth right, no matter how great their genetics are. That natural athleticism benefits him, his pace is electric, but to think of Leroy Sane simply as a pacey winger would be to do him an injustice of epic proportions.
Make no mistake, Sane is young player with a big future; in fact, he has the potential to be a star of the world game, an assertion I have no hesitation in making. He grabbed my attention the very first time I saw him play and has continued to do so ever since. He has what has almost become a prerequisite for the modern day winger: pace in abundance, silky skills and the ability to cut inside and score goals. However, what sets him apart is not just the blistering speed, wonderful technique and a left foot to die for, but a level of composure that belies his tender years.
His goal here (about 25 seconds in) against Hertha Berlin is a great example of that composure.
The Champions League tie last season, away to Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabeu was the game that propelled Sane into the consciousness of many football fans though, in what was an eye catching display.
His performance this season against Borussia Dortmund in the Revierderby was another example of how quickly he is developing and just how effective and important he is to Schalke. Despite them losing the game, his involvement in their first goal (1min 15secs in) demonstrated why he is their principle game changer.
What is evident whenever Sane plays is just how fearless is his with the ball at his feet; sometimes that can lead to him losing possession, but it would wrong to try and curtail such a wonderful natural dribbler capable of changing a game. This tendency to sometimes lose possession too easily is understandably seen as a weakness in his game, but his decision making of when and where to attempt a dribble is likely to improve as gets older. Also, despite being tall, he doesn’t yet have a strong physique, but don’t let that fool you into thinking he’s a pushover, because he is tenacious when fighting for the ball.
Statistically, his 4 goals and 4 assists in 17 Bundesliga games this season may not be enough to impress some, but it should be taken into consideration that this is his first full season as regular in the Schalke team and he only turns 20 on January 11th. So, whilst his stats may not be breath taking, his football most certainly is and if he does end up in the Premier League, be prepared to see a new star.