Pep Guardiola has reassured Leroy Sane that he has a future at Manchester City despite failing to make the starting line-up in their opening two Premier League matches.
Sane was named the Premier League’s young player of the year in April, having scored 14 goals and provided 19 assists in all competitions as City won the English title and the League Cup.
However, the 22-year-old was left out of Germany’s squad for the World Cup, and has seen his City opportunities limited this season, appearing as a substitute in their league victories over Arsenal and Huddersfield.
Guardiola preferred to use Raheem Sterling in a left-sided forward role at the Emirates Stadium, and featured Benjamin Mendy as an attacking wing-back as Huddersfield were thrashed 6-1 last Sunday.
However, the City manager says Sane’s chances will come, and that he is not being pushed to the fringes of the squad.
“In the past two weeks in training, I’ve seen the Leroy that I know and we know. I am delighted about that,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday ahead of their clash against Wolves on Saturday (1.30pm SA time).
“You know about his performances in pre-season, he arrived late, and now he is getting back to being like Leroy is.
“We have six excellent strikers, and not all of them can play. He is not being left out because we are unhappy with his performance. We have to choose now Mendy is playing more wide. That is the reason why.
“He is ready with his physical condition. He doesn’t need much time to get in better condition, it is not about that.”
Guardiola hinted the frustration of being left out of the World Cup had caused Sane to lose focus when he returned to City duty in pre-season.
“I understand the disappointment of missing the World Cup – for young players it is an important issue,” he said.
“But in football, and sport and life, there is the next one and the next one. He came back, he was in the United States with us for pre-season and stayed there. He took a little bit more time to settle, and now he is ready.
“It is not the case that when someone in this team is not playing that I’m not happy with them or they don’t deserve it.
“I have to choose and they have to be ready. We have played two games and the competition has just started.
“I have never complained about Leroy’s behaviour in the training sessions or matches. What he did last season was so important.”
Guardiola, meanwhile, has called on the Premier League to loosen its rules on emergency signings outside the transfer window after his struggles to find goalkeeping cover in the past few days.
City lost Claudio Bravo on Monday to an Achilles tendon injury, leaving the club with no experienced back-up for Ederson, their first-choice keeper, after selling Joe Hart to Burnley and Angus Gunn to Southampton before the English transfer window closed on August 9.
Aro Muric, the Montenegro Under-21 international, has been recalled from a season’s loan at Dutch side NAC Breda to act as second-choice, with youth graduate Daniel Grimshaw the other keeper in City’s squad.
Asked if the rules should be looked at, Guardiola said: “Yes. Not just for goalkeepers, but for when there are big, big injuries to players.
“If we had not been allowed to bring back Aro, I don’t know what would have happened.
“But the rules are the rules. Maybe the federation can think about that when there are long, long injuries, and it is still the period where the European window is open. Then maybe you could do it.
“Here it is closed, and it is good that the competition starts with the whole squad.
“But maybe we could think about that, especially when the injuries are five or six months.”AFP