Guardiola refuses to prioritise Sane replacement

By Sports Desk June 21, 2020

Pep Guardiola suggested Manchester City will have other priorities in the transfer market at the end of this season rather than seeking a replacement for Leroy Sane.

On Friday, Guardiola confirmed Sane will not sign a contract extension at the Etihad Stadium, with Bayern Munich long touted as the Germany winger's next destination.

City are expected to reach an agreement with the Bundesliga champions ahead of 2020-21, although Bayern might be disappointed if they expect a knockdown price, given Guardiola did not entirely rule out the 24-year-old running down a deal that expires in June 2021.

A cruciate knee ligament injury means Sane has not featured since last August's Community Shield, with City working through various alternatives in the left-wing role.

Raheem Sterling has played the majority of the season there, with Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus and Phil Foden all stepping outside of their natural positions on occasion.

That impressive raft of options, along with uncertainty over how the transfer market will operate amid the financial turmoil wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, means Guardiola is not committed to signing a replacement.

The fact City are also awaiting the result of their appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against a two-season Champions League ban for Financial Fair Play violations also plays into the uncertainty, while left-back and centre-back have long been earmarked as positions the manager might wish to reinforce.

"First, Leroy is our player. I don't know if he is going to leave this summertime or at the end of the contract," Guardiola said, ahead of City's Premier League match against Burnley on Monday.

"We have enough good players up front. Gabriel can play on the left, Phil Foden can play on the left, we have Raheem there.

"We have big, talented players up front. Most of them are all the time in a healthy condition – like Phil, Riyad, Gabriel, Raheem.

"Players like that can play quite regularly for a long time. They are so stable in terms of injury situations.

"I think we have other priorities maybe and I don't know, after coronavirus the situation economically and financially for the clubs is changing.

"I don’t know what the situation is. We are going to see at the end of this season."

Left-back Benjamin Mendy might be the City player who best replicates Sane's threat, in terms of being a left-footed player who attacks directly down the outside of a defence, albeit from deeper positions.

But the France international's knee injury woes since moving to the Etihad Stadium in 2017 are one of the main reasons City have been linked with moves for the likes of Leicester City's England full-back Ben Chilwell.

"He has special quality with his energy, his potential. As a left back he is an extraordinary player, but we cannot forget he played just one game," Guardiola said, acknowledging Mendy's assured showing in Wednesday's 3-0 win over Arsenal.

"He came back so fit after lockdown. In the first days he was focused. But with Benja we have to wait a little bit and hopefully he can play this period. There is two months and a lot of games to play regularly.

"It's so important for us to have him. Hopefully he can continue training and doing what he has done so far after lockdown.

"He loves to play football, he is a guy who handles the pressure really well on the big stages. He is a player we can count on. We could not count on him for two years, that is a long time."

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