Interviews

Let’s Talk: Leroy Sané with Max Schumacher

Leroy Sané is the latest player to be linked with a big-money move to Manchester City.

The French-raised German international with Senegalese roots made massive strides in his career last year breaking-through the first team before making his international debut against France in November. The youngster, who appeared in Manchester against City’s EDS side last February, also scored in Schalke’s 4-3 victory at the Bernabeu in the Champions League quarter-final.

According to The Guardian, Manchester City have made 19-year old Schalke attacking midfielder Leroy Sane their primary transfer target this summer. The Guardian state that Manchester City have been following Sane since December 2013 and quote Schalke’s asking price at around £32m; comparing the figure to that of which Manchester United paid AS Monaco for Golden Boy winner Anthony Martial last summer.

German newspaper Bild have also got in on the act, claiming that a huge €55m (£40.5m) bid is imminent and that Sane could leave soon as Schalke are looking to “balance the books”. Schalke General Manager Horst Heldt boasted that “even Manchester City don’t have that much money” to prise Leroy Sané away.

There’s clearly a genuine interest in Leroy Sane and with the huge sums of money being reported for a player so relatively unknown among Manchester City fans I thought it would be worth finding out more.

To get the low-drop on Germany’s wonderkid we spoke to Max Schuhmacher, a lovely Schalke fan who kindly agreed to answer questions in his second language.

The numbers thrown around are quite extraordinary and have delivered one or two bemused looks from Manchester City fans. For those who haven’t watched him or only caught glimpses, what kind of player is Leroy? What are his favoured positions?

Sané is a very pacey winger with a strong left foot. He usually plays in the right midfield of Schalke’s 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1 line-up but has also played next to Huntelaar as a second striker. He clearly has his strengths with on open field in front of him, like during a counterattack, but he is capable of dribbling past one or two defenders when he finds himself in tight spaces. He likes to cut in centrally, as you may have seen from his goal against Real Madrid.

Without the ball though is when he is at his most dangerous, waiting between defenders for a through-ball to dribble past the keeper if he is central enough, or to cross the ball back into the box from the side.

At Manchester City we already have a plethora of attacking talent in Silva, De Bruyne, Sterling, Nasri and Navas. How different is he to them? Do you think he’s currently good enough to force himself into selection?

I don’t know your attacking talents well enough – besides De Bruyne – however I doubt any of them matches him for pace. He is the second fastest Bundesliga player behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. But I don’t think of him as being better than any of those players are at the moment. He isn’t consistent enough with his performances so far. Which is completely fine, since he is just 19 years old and still has to learn quite a lot (defensive contribution as an example). Also, he seems to be unfocused at times, like he thinks about where to run or where to pass before securing the ball, which results in a lost ball more than once per game.

A common critique over the years made at Manchester City’s transfer board is that we regularly miss out on the next big superstar. Since our takeover we’ve been pipped to players like Hazard, Neymar, Gotze, Isco and Thiago. Can Sane reach the heights of some of those players?

If you want to sign a talent who is capable of being the next big superstar, Sané is your guy. But right now, he needs time. Time with experienced players, both during training sessions and on the pitch. I think the first one or two years after leaving the youth team are crucial for the development of a talent. He is at that stage right now, where if he manages to keep up his performances, he will be one of the best known players in Europe, one that everyone wants to have on their fantasy team, but can’t afford.

Leroy only signed fresh terms with Schalke last July. What are the chances of a reported January move or do you think this summer is more feasible?

The chances of signing Leroy in January are next to zero. First of all, Heldt (Schalke’s General Manager) stated that Leroy doesn’t want to leave. Secondly, our coach, André Breitenreiter, wasn’t pleased with the club’s decision to sell Julian Draxler to Wolfsburg last summer. He was quoted as saying that the team has “lost quality” and right now, Horst Heldt is looking for a replacement.

As for Heldt himself, this will be his last season at Schalke. His contract ends in June and he will presumably be replaced by Christian Heidel (currently at Mainz 05). This wouldn’t be relevant if Heldt wasn’t fighting for recognition for his work over the past years. It is said that he and Clemens Tönnies (Schalke chairman) have fallen out which each other, and Heldt made clear over the last few weeks that he is still in charge. I don’t think he will sell Sané right now, as Heldt wants to look in good light. What may happen during the summer I can’t tell. But right know, I believe in Heldt’s statement that City doesn’t have enough money for him.

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