Sane leaving Man City: Bailey? Sancho? Traore? Who might Guardiola bring in?

By Sports Desk June 22, 2020

Manchester City are already planning for life without Leroy Sane.

Although there remains a chance the Germany winger could see out a contract running until June 2021 at the Etihad Stadium, Pep Guardiola's announcement on Friday that Sane will not sign a new deal means a long-mooted exit to Bayern Munich is likely to be imminent.

A key performer as City claimed back-to-back Premier League titles in 2017-18 and 2018-19 is on the way out and speculation will mount over who Guardiola will pursue to bolster his attack.

The City manager has suggested he could simply operate with the forward options he has, as has been the case this season due to Sane's cruciate knee ligament injury.

However, the near-surrender of their domestic crown to Liverpool in his absence tells its own story, while the decision not to secure a specialist replacement for departing captain Vincent Kompany last year might weigh heavily upon the prospect of a similar route being taken.

The twin factors of the coronavirus pandemic's expected economic impact on football and City's two-season Champions League ban, which is currently under appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), could also influence whether any of the names listed below can be brought to Manchester.

MIKEL OYARZABAL

Real Sociedad star Oyarzabal hit double figures for league goals in both of the past two seasons, netting 12 in 2017-18 and 13 in 2018-19 – outstripping the 10 Sane netted in each campaign.

Naturally left footed and, unlike City attackers Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez, at home operating on that flank, the 23-year-old has nine this time around. A €75million release clause means he fits the model of signing up-and-coming LaLiga stars with sensible valuations in their contracts that saw Aymeric Laporte and Rodri end up at Eastlands.

LEON BAILEY

Livewire Bayer Leverkusen winger Bailey was first linked to City in 2018, when Guardiola ultimately plumped for Mahrez to bolster a title-winning forward line. The Jamaica international's output has dwindled since – scoring five times in each of the past two seasons and supplying a total of four assists. In 2017-18 he boasted nine goals and laid on a further six.

Bailey's considerable natural gifts – electric pace, excellent one-against-one dribbling and a sweet left foot – means he retains admirers and, as a stylistic fit for replacing Sane, Guardiola might consider the 22-year-old to be a diamond worth polishing.

FERRAN TORRES

Torres, who turned 20 in February, has enjoyed a stunning breakout campaign at Valencia after starring in Spain's European Under-19 Championship triumph last year. He scored both goals in the final win over Portugal after dispatching the decisive penalty in the shoot-out to see off semi-final opponents France.

Super Deporte reported last month that Torres heads the list of possible Sane heirs compiled by City's director of football Txiki Begiristain. A skilful and direct winger capable of operating on either flank, his big move is probably a matter of when rather than if.

KINGSLEY COMAN

Guardiola's declaration and Sane's contract situation mean Bayern might sniff an opportunity to get their man on the cheap. A gruelling round of negotiations could await both parties and Coman would certainly have value as a makeweight in the deal.

Familiar with Guardiola's methods having played for his Bayern side, the France international generally attempts dribbles (6.4 per 90 minutes this term, 8.9 in 2015-16 under Guardiola) more frequently than Sane, whose direct approach has been missed by City this year. However, the 24-year-old's persistent injury woes would be a major concern.

JADON SANCHO

From the over-arching CAS situation to Sancho's fractious departure from City in 2017, there are plenty of good reasons to assume the hottest property on the European transfer market is far more likely to end up on the other side of Manchester. However, City retain a "matching right" on Sancho – meaning Borussia Dortmund must inform them of any bid received – and must be tempted to try their hand.

The England star, 20, boasts a staggering 33 goal involvements (17 goals, 16 assists) in 31 Bundesliga games this season, dwarfing an impressive 26 (12 goals, 14 assists) from last time around. City have tended not to get involved in astronomical one-off deals – Rodri, at £62.8m, is their record buy – but Sancho presents a case that demands they make an exception.

ADAMA TRAORE

"It was always clear it would happen one day, and now it has," Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp observed earlier this season as Traore shifted rapidly from frustrating potential to a player wrecking defences across England on Wolves' behalf. Despite being a graduate of Barcelona's academy, the powerhouse wideman's seemingly off-the-cuff style could frustrate Guardiola as much as it delights.

But added precision to his play means the 24-year-old is now one of the most dangerous attackers in the Premier League. Three of his four goals this season came in wins over City, a wonderful assist for Raul Jimenez in Saturday's win at West Ham was his eighth this term and his dribbling output of 9.1 per 90 minutes is relentless.

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