He’s the Schalke starlet who has continued to dominate headlines and could apparently fetch a £42m price. Teams from all over Europe including Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea have been linked with the 20-year-old.
Born in January 1996, Sané began his career with SG Wattenscheid 09, but just before turning 10, he left Wattenscheid for Schalke’s academy, illustrating his talent. He really burst onto the scene last season when Schalke arrived at the Santiago Bernabeu to play Los Blancos in the second leg of the Champions League’s Round of 16 tie. Everyone expected Schalke to bow down to the mighty Real Madrid, in what was possibly for the latter a very easy match. Instead, the German outfit managed to win 4-3 in an extremely exciting game, and Sané managed to standout in this extraordinary victory in front of Real Madrid’s home support. Ever since, the youngster has been linked with the biggest clubs in Europe and has been watched with keen eyes every time he steps on the pitch.
In 23 Bundesliga appearances with eight of them coming from the bench, the 20-year-old has 5 goals and 4 assists.
Sané has proved himself at the highest level at a young age. His man-of-the-match appearance against Real Madrid, where he changed the game after coming off the bench, ensured he put his name out there. But it wasn’t just a one-off affair. Since his breakout game, Sané has only grown in confidence and become a key player for Schalke.
Style of play; strengths and weaknesses
While he primarily operates from the right wing, he is capable of playing anywhere along the front three (behind the striker).
Perhaps his biggest strength is the fact that he is not greatly reliant on his teammates to have an impact. Sané’s playing style oozes confidence. Even when there seem to be no clear cut opportunities, his natural ability ensures that he can create one, as he has the ability to glide past defenders and dribble with finesse. Sané looks fearless with the ball at his feet, as he is seen constantly trying to create space and attack the opposing full-back. But when space is hard to find, he isn’t “selfish” enough to forcefully try to keep the ball, and passes it to his teammates.
He can often remind one of an old school winger. He tries to go past the opposing full-back with the help of his speed and his dribbling, which stand out as his big strengths. However, he isn’t restricted by them and also looks to cut inside whenever there is an opportunity available. He can retain possession well and can also make clever passes, not just to get the game moving but also to assist his teammates in a goal.
Perhaps his most obvious weakness — which isn’t a remarkable flaw for a player his age — is his decision making abilities. Sometimes, the Schalke player seems obviously lost as to what the correct option at the time would be. Sané could become better in this department, but this is one of those things that you expect a footballer to ace with more time and experience.
The German has immense potential to become an incredible player, in fact one of the best in the world, with further development and experience. It will be safe to say that if he carries on in a similar manner, Sane is likely to become one of the best in the world with time.
For now, Sané should focus on becoming a regular in the starting eleven at Schalke. While continuing his development under André Breitenreiter, where his strengths are complemented by the coach’s positive attacking and direct style seems like the best option for the 20-year-old. However, considering the hype around him, it seems likely that a big club would come in the summer and prise him away from the German club.
Is he worth the sum?
Arguably not. The 20-year-old’s stats haven’t suggested that he is anywhere close to a player a club should pay £42m for. However, just last summer, we saw Manchester City buying Raheem Sterling for £49m, and Anthony Martial going to Manchester United for £36m. Quite clearly, these purchases are made keeping the future and potential for growth in mind. The aforementioned duo have the capability of shining at the topmost level, and potentially becoming the world’s best. If and when they do, the sum paid by the two Manchester sides would seem worthwhile, and they would also have the chance to make a profit on the players if they decide to cash in on them. Obviously, these signings also have a risk factor to them. What if they don’t shine? But doesn’t that hold true for any player? The chances for a youngster to have a bright future is obviously higher than that of a 26 or 27-year-old, and that is the reason spending a lot of money on a young player doesn’t seem entirely bizarre.
Similarly, Sane’s £42m transfer rumours make little sense to anyone who watches him or just has a look at his season’s numbers. However, clubs these days plan for the future and when compared to Sterling or Martial, Sané definitely displays the same amount of potential, if not more, which justifies the reported price tag.