Leroy Sane: 10 things on the Bayern Munich and Germany winger
Leroy Sane is a two-time Bundesliga and English Premier League winner, but what else is there to know about the Bayern Munich and Germany winger? bundesliga.com takes a closer look at the lively left-footer...
1) Born to play?
That Sane has the athletic attributes to thrive in professional football should perhaps come as little surprise. The fastest player on record in the Premier League when he clocked a top speed of 22.05 miles per hour in City's 1-0 win at Chelsea in September 2017, Sane combines his pace with the kind of technique and creativity that make him a nightmare for any opposition defender.
The apple (of Bayern's eye?) doesn't fall far from the tree in this instance. Sane's father Souleymane, better known as Samy, scored 29 goals in 55 games as a striker for Senegal in the 1990s, as well as finding the target 116 times across the top two divisions of German football. It was during the first of his two spells at the now-defunct SG Wattenscheid 09 that Souleymane met Leroy's mother. Regina Weber was a rhythmic gymnast who won Olympic Bronze for Germany at the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles.
2) Keeping it in the family
Sane is the middle child of three brothers, and although the Bayern man has undoubtedly made the biggest strides in the game, the other two - Kim and Sidi - also played football. Kim - older than Leroy by one year - came through at Schalke's famous Knappenschmiede academy and even overlapped playing alongside - or, perhaps more accurately, behind - Leroy at U19 level in 2014. A former right-back, he last played for Wattenscheid in 2017 before retiring due to injury.
Youngest brother Sidi - who turned 18 in 2021 - made his Bundesliga debut in the 2022/23 campaign. A winger like Leroy, Sidi prefers his right foot in contrast to his brother's left-sidedness, but both can line up on either flank behind a central striker. Sidi has also been unfortunate with injuries which have restricted his development, but the club remain optimistic that they have another promising talent on their hands.
"He's had a lot of bad luck, but he's got the quality," Schalke youth coach Willi Landgraf said of the 6'2" Sidi. "Not a lot of players have his gifts."
3) What's in a name?
Born Leroy Aziz Sané on 11 January 1996 - thus sharing a birthdate with footballing royalty such as Gerson, Bryan Robson, Jamie Vardy and, for those of a Championship Manager persuasion, Mike Duff - Bayern's new star was named after his father Souleymane's former Senegal coach Claude Le Roy.
Le Roy - whose name literally means "The King" in French - handed Sane Sr. his international debut in 1990, and just in the nick of time. Michel Platini, then France coach, was weeks away from giving the striker his debut for Les Bleus, but Otto Pfister - a German coach who preceded Le Roy in the Senegal dugout - tipped off the African nation's federation as to Samy's roots.
4) Germany over other options
With FIFA eligibility extending back as far as a player's grandparents' country of birth, Leroy could have turned out for each of Germany, Senegal and France. He is a French citizen and with Kingsley Coman, Benjamin Pavard, Lucas Hernandez, Dayot Upamecano, Michael Cuisance and Tanguy Nianzou already at Bayern, Sane will share at least two languages with several players at the Allianz Arena - football and French.
There was very little question about whether the Essen-born attacker would commit to Germany, however. He made his debut for Marcus Sorg's U19s in September 2014, scoring in a 3-2 win over the Netherlands, and took just 14 months to progress to the first team with 10 goals in 21 youth international outings under his belt. He made his full debut against France in Paris in November 2015. Sane returned to France for UEFA Euro 2016, although he missed out on the 2018 FIFA World Cup squad. He was, however, named in Germany's UEFA EURO 2020 and 2022 World Cup squads.
5) A breath of fresh air in Manchester
With 11 goals in 47 Bundesliga games for Schalke to his name, Sane swapped Gelsenkirchen for Pep Guardiola's Manchester City in the summer of 2016. Although he slotted straight in as their first-choice left winger opposite Raheem Sterling, Sane's numbers initially dipped. Eight goals and six assists in his final Bundesliga season became five goals and three assists in his first Premier League campaign.
Still just 21 when he made the move, such adjustment might have been expected. It turned out Sane was struggling with a breathing issue which hindered his progress, however, and he underwent corrective surgery to address chronic nasal congestion at the conclusion of his first campaign in England. "I've decided to use the summer break for this operation so that I can go into the new season with a clean bill of health," he said.
6) Fulfilling his vast potential
That clean bill of health meant a new lease of life, and Sane was nothing if not a footballing force of nature as City wrapped up the double of Premier League and EFL Cup in his second season. He plundered 10 goals and 15 assists in the league, with 14 and 19 in each column in all competitions. He was also voted the 2017/18 PFA Young Player of the Year ahead of his City teammates Sterling and Ederson, as well as Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane.
Sane missed out on the inaugural Premier League Playmaker of the Season award to City colleague and former Werder Bremen and Wolfsburg star Kevin De Bruyne by virtue of contributing one fewer assist. He did, though, lay on a goal every 162 league minutes he played that term, compared to the Belgian's rate of one every 193.
7) First return to Germany
Sane previously enjoyed something of a happy homecoming in his career, returning to Schalke as a City player in February 2019 when the teams met in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League. During the first leg at the Veltins Arena, a pair of Nabil Bentaleb penalties had the Royal Blues leading 2-1 with five minutes to go. Sane stepped up to equalise with a stunning free-kick, though, before Sterling stole a 3-2 win.
There was less argument about the result in the return fixture, with City running out 7-0 winners and Sane scoring one and assisting three more. The player's class was evident across both legs, however, as he refused to celebrate against his former club.
"Yeah, I was a bit [sorry]," Sane said after the first leg. "I couldn’t really celebrate. Of course, I was pleased for my team, but to score a goal like that against my former love..."
Watch: Leroy Sane's Schalke best bits
8) A star for Schalke in Europe
The reason Sane felt so bad about scoring against Schalke, of course, is because that was where he spent much of his youth as well as his early years as a professional.
He made his debut for the Royal Blues in April 2014 - coming on during a 3-1 defeat against VfB Stuttgart - and finished with 13 goals and eight assists in 57 appearances across all competitions.
Before returning to score against them in Europe for City, Sane once played a starring role for Schalke in the Champions League. In March 2015 - with his side trailing 3-1 on aggregate in the second leg of their last-16 tie - the 19-year-old was undaunted when he was sent on at Real Madrid.
A first-half substitute for the injured Eric Choupo Maxim-Moting, Sane curled in a cracking left-footed shot after 57 minutes on his first appearance in the competition. That strike was part of a dramatic fightback by the visitors. Although they won 4-3 on the night, however, they came up one goal short and lost 5-4 on aggregate.
9) A repeat offender
Sane, though, has been making a habit of scoring goals against Schalke in recent years. On his Bundesliga debut for Bayern on the opening night of the 2020/21 season, the Germany attacker netted the seventh goal in the 8-0 thumping of his former team in Munich.
"I'm a little sorry about that," Sane said when asked about inflicting such a painful defeat.
Sane didn't score on his return to Gelsenkirchen later that same campaign, but he still helped Bayern register another 4-0 win there in the year his old club were relegated.
10) A versatile scorer of great goals...
…and also a great contributor to goals! In 135 first-team appearances for City, Sane was involved in a goal - either scoring one or making one - every 106 minutes. In his first season with Bayern, he had a hand in a goal every 119 minutes.
The tricky winger scored 10 times in all competitions and also made it into double figures for assists in the Bundesliga as Bayern retained their title.
That was an impressive return for the new signing, particularly given that he was coming back from the cruciate ligament injury he suffered in August 2019.
He has continued to progress under new Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann, producing seven goals and eight assists in 2021/22 and contributing a further 15 goals during the first half of 2022/23.
Watch: Sane has been flying for Bayern in 2022/23
"He has it all," Nagelsmann said. "His pace and ability to run in behind, and when he's tracking back and the confidence is flowing, he's a top player."
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