It takes something truly special to stand out at Bayern Munich, especially with Robert Lewandowski scoring for fun, but in recent weeks Leroy Sane has come close to overshadowing the Poland forward.
He was at the fore again on Saturday, opening the scoring in the 17th minute against Bochum with a superb free-kick before setting up Joshua Kimmich for Bayern’s second in a 7-0 thrashing.
When he was substituted off in the 62nd minute, the Germany international received an emphatic standing ovation from the home crowd.
Watch: Highlights of Bayern's win over Bochum
“We tried, like always, to give our best, to give 100 per cent no matter what the score is,” Sane told bundesliga.com afterwards. “We’re always hungry to score goals, like today. You could see it. After we made it 3-0 we didn’t lay back and relax. We’re all just hungry and try to play our best.”
The Bayern No.10 has been doing just that for most of this season. Saturday’s fixture against Bochum was the sixth time in his last seven games that Sane has been directly involved in a goal: an assist against Hertha Berlin on Matchday 3; two goals and an assist across Germany’s three FIFA World Cup qualifiers during the international break; goals against Leipzig on Matchday 4 and Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League, and then his haul at the weekend.
"I can really see his development, he’s incredibly committed,” said Bayern head coach Julian Nagelsmann of Sane in his post-match press conference following the Bochum game, dedicating almost a minute and a half of his seven-minute briefing to praising the attacking midfielder.
Watch: Sane: "We're always hungry"
“In the two games before the international break he was also very committed and was giving his all. I think he’s made an extremely good decision, without anybody needing to tell him to do it: in match situations that don’t require his huge talent, he’s really throwing himself into them and is rewarded for that by getting into good positions in the games.
“He’s really taken several steps forward in terms of his counter-pressing. In the first half today I can remember a situation where he tracked back for 30 metres and won the ball back just before the edge of our penalty area. He did those sorts of things with the national team too, and today he scored.
“In attack he’s always in a good position. He’s often reduced to simply being a winger, but under me for the fourth game in a row he’s sort of played between being a number 8 and a number 10, in the half spaces where he can utilize his unbelievable qualities and with his pace and that of Alphonso Davies, we can launch a lot of good attacks.
“I’ve said many times that we shouldn’t talk about [Leroy] too much; we should just let him play. Every player needs a good relationship with the coaching staff and the fans in order to feel good and work hard. I think he has that here.
“I’ve always said what an outstanding player he is and that he’ll bring us a lot of joy. He’s shown that in the last few weeks.”
With bottom club Greuther Fürth up next for Bayern, Sane’s combination of blink-and-you-miss-it talent, work-rate, decision making and increasing end product hold the promise of much more to come from the 25-year-old.