Still just 22 years old, Leroy Sane has the footballing world at his feet. The Manchester City man, famously left out of Germany’s 2018 World Cup squad by manager Joachim Low, has been simply sublime in 2018/19, and he has quickly matured into one of Pep Guardiola’s most effective weapons. Blessed with blistering speed and creative ideas in the final third, Sane can be City’s difference maker in the business end of the season and beyond.

According to football statistics website WhoScored, Sane has been directly involved in 11 goals in 13 Premier League appearances in 2018/19. With six goals scored and five created for teammates, Sane has shown how important he is to City on a weekly basis. Five of those goals and three assists have come in their last eight Premier League outings – punters will be backing the young German to retain the PFA Young Player Of The Year award after such a strong first half of the campaign.

Comparatively, Sane notched 10 goals and 15 assists last season; he is on track to put up a similar statistical line in 2018/19. On his day, Sane is unstoppable. Capable of bamboozling any defence in world football, he is incredibly talented, and plenty of punters will fancy the City star to retain his individual accolade. Unfortunately for Sane, Raheem Sterling has also been sensational so far this season, and he may be the man to beat at this moment in time. Write Sane off at your peril though, he has the talent to turn that particular battle around.

No Plain Sailing for Sane

But it hasn’t been plain sailing for Sane in 2018/19. Far from it, in fact. Guardiola has been tough on the 22-year-old during his early City tenure, leaving the German youngster on the bench for a handful of matches back in August and September. Since then, Sane has stepped up to a whole new level, and he is now one of Pep’s “untouchables”. Only a severe drop in form or a long-term injury will be enough for Sane to lose his spot in the City starting line-up.

Sane, along with fellow wingers Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez, is central to Guardiola’s blueprint for success. Fast, skilful wingers have been key to his victories at Bayern Munich and Barcelona, with the likes of Arjen Robben and Pedro taking on major roles on a weekly basis. The Germany youngster is still raw in so many ways, but Guardiola is steering him in the right direction and he will soon be a regular feature for both club and country. Watch this space, Sane could be world football’s next superstar.

From a German perspective, most fans are still baffled as to how Low managed to overlook Sane after such a prolific Premier League campaign. The City star might not have been able to prevent Germany’s unexpected group stage, but he would have offered a different option in the final third. Germany were predictable and ponderous, often relying on a moment of magic – such as Toni Kroos’ last-gasp free-kick against Sweden. Sane gives you directness as well as space, and those two traits are enough to strike the fear of God into a defender.

A New Generation Beckons

With Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo relinquishing their Ballon d’Or stranglehold to Real Madrid star Luka Modric this year, the balance of power in world football is changing. There is now a real chance for somebody to step up and announce themselves as the new global soccer star. Kylian Mbappe and Paulo Dybala are two of the most gifted youngsters in the sport, but Sane isn’t too far behind. Leading City to another Premier League title and, dare we say it, a first Champions League success would do his chances of recognition no harm whatsoever.

At the time of writing, Sane and co are two points clear of closest rivals Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table. If truth be told, Guardiola’s men should be five points clear and coasting to back-to-back title triumphs. Sane did incredibly well to win a penalty at Anfield with minutes remaining, but fellow winger Mahrez stepped up and missed the target. A win in that fixture would have given City breathing space in their pursuit of Premier League glory, but the Blues will be quietly confident of holding Liverpool off.

One of the main reasons for City’s continued success is their ability to start quickly week in, week out. Plenty of tipsters now back the Blues to be leading before half-time, as has been the case in six of their previous seven Premier League matches. Guardiola sends his side out to get the job done as quickly as possible, and that relentless nature suits Sane down to the ground. Should City struggle in the early stages, Pep has options on the bench to change a game in the blink of an eye. Some might say it is unfair how good this City side is…

Regular Football is Key

Sane has now played the full 90 minutes in five of City’s last six Premier League games – this run of starts is enough to suggest that he is one of Pep’s favourites. At his brilliant best, he is an absolute joy to watch, and Sane is only going to get better. He received a 10/10 rating in City’s recent victory against West Ham; the German star notched a brace whilst also recording an assist in that encounter. Furthermore, he opened the scoring in City’s tricky 2-1 win away at Watford. Sane isn’t just padding the statistics, he is scoring important goals.

Critics have previously labelled Sane as lazy, but the youngster has worked hard to improve his stamina. Guardiola’s words earlier in the campaign struck a nerve, but Sane acted quickly to fix that weakness and he is now incredibly fit. In terms of work ethic, he works tirelessly – both going forwards and tracking back to help out defensively. Sane is maturing into one of the most complete footballers in England’s top flight, and fans will be expecting big things from the German youngster in the coming months. He is ready to make the difference for City on the biggest stage of all.

The Blues will need Sane to be at his best to stand any chance of Champions League glory this campaign – and Guardiola knows it. City cannot afford to carry any passengers in Europe’s elite club competition, and Sane has been solid enough in the group stages. He has played 196 minutes of City’s European campaign, notching one assist so far. As we enter the business stage of the season, Sane may take on a bigger role at the Etihad Stadium; the 22-year-old will be tough to stop if he stays fit. A confident Sane is a dangerous Sane.

Sane is yet to sign a new Manchester City deal, but fans won’t be too worried just yet. Pep has hinted at a long-term contract for Sane and that is enough to convince supporters that the Spaniard views Sane as a pivotal figure at the Etihad Stadium. Individual glory beckons if Sane stays under Pep’s wing; he fits the mould to succeed at the highest level. And now he is ‘in’ as one of Guardiola’s top guys, Sane should do everything in his power to keep his spot in the City starting XI.

Leroy Sane is one of the most talented young footballers on the planet, and City fans will be backing him to go on and win the Ballon d’Or in the future. He has the talent and skill-set to pip his rivals to the individual accolade; his hard work and endeavour cannot stop here though. Making an impact for Germany on the international stage is also important; the UEFA Nations League relegation was embarrassing, but Sane can help his national side to get back to the summit of world football. The Messi-Ronaldo era is officially over; it is now time for a Sane-type to step up and take centre stage.