Bayern Munich’s 7-0 demolition of Bochum at the weekend saw a host of fine performances and stand-out players. One player definitely in contention to be deemed the Player of the Match was Leroy Sané, who produced a sublime attacking display when called into the starting XI. We have however, seen this all before with Sané a world-beater one day, and then anonymous, Mr. Not Interested the next. Are Bayern going to finally crack the enigma that is Leroy Sané this season?
Since signing for Bayern back in 2020 for €60 million the mercurial winger has shown both his good side and his bad side. His good side brings out a world class attacker, who at times is quite simply unplayable and you would think a shoo-in for a starting berth every week. His dark side brings out a player on the periphery of games, hugely frustrating for coaches and fans and one that seems unmotivated/ disinterested.
Last season, (Sané’s second at the Allianz Arena) with Julian Nagelsmann installed at the helm, saw the winger start the first two games of the new regime but largely disappoint. He was booed by the home fans on matchday 2 against Köln and he was subbed off at half-time.
He then produced better displays against RB Leipzig and Bochum with goals against each on matchdays four and five. He enjoyed a good Hinrunde as a whole with plenty of game time and looked to enjoy the confidence of Nagelsmann.
The Rückrunde however was a different kettle of fish. He went off the boil completely and his level of performance even brought public comment from the trainer. “I like Leroy very much, as a person and as a player. Everyone knows that he has incredible qualities,” Nagelsmann was quoted. “He is self-critical enough and knows himself that he hasn’t recently played well. I don’t know exactly why.”
Later in the month he told the Abendzeitung: “I can’t explain 100 percent why he doesn’t always reach his performance limit. I’ll give you a tip: either write less or ask him yourself. He’s old enough to make his own opinion known. I can’t answer it.”
New Season, New Sané?
Sané began the season on the bench with Jamal Musiala’s form and Bayern’s winning start making Julian Nagelsmann stick with the same XI for the opening few games. However, injuries to Musiala and Gnabry opened up a chance against Bochum on Sunday and boy oh boy did he take his opportunity.
It took just four minutes for him to combine brilliantly with Kingsley Coman to score the opener and open the floodgates for Bayern. Throughout the game he was direct, combined superbly with the other attackers, looked to have the beating of any defender in front of him, even if his final finish left a little to be desired at times.
In total he had five shots and created four chances for others. He had an 86% pass accuracy, 64 touches, and even put in the defensive work with seven recoveries. Both captain Joshua Kimmich and trainer Julian Nagelsmann were delighted with his performance.
“He played a sensational game today” Kimmich said after the game. “His performances have been apparent in the past week or two in training — he brought it to the pitch today, which was remarkable. There was renewed criticism because he didn’t play. But you can see that he’s mentally stable. Today, he rewarded himself with an outstanding performance.”
Nagelsmann was equally effusive saying: “He did really well today. He’s a player who divides opinions, there was criticism in the past few weeks. He’s a very good footballer. When he’s 100% up for it, he’s one of the best players in Europe. He’s quick, has good dribbling, finishing, good timing.”
When he’s 100% up for it- that is the key with Sané. How often will that be the case this season? The competition for places in the Bayern frontline is fierce (even with the departure of Robert Lewandowski) and he will have to contend with Sadio Mané, Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala, Kingsley Coman and Thomas Müller for a starting berth.
There are still rumours floating about with the transfer window still open, but Bayern know they have a quality player, who on his day is world-class. Sané remains an enigma that Bayern would dearly love to finally crack.