News broke yesterday evening that the long-running saga is finally over.
Manchester City and Bayern Munich have found an agreement that will see winger Leroy Sane return to Germany, in a deal worth up to €60 million. City will receive €49 million up front for Sane with a further €11 million in potential add-ons, plus 10% of any future sale involving Bayern and Sane.
While the fee is seen as low for a player of his ability, it’s worth noting that Sane had just one-year left on his contract and had already made it clear to Man City and manager Pep Guardiola that he had no intention of extending his stay in England.
With the deal now done and City getting a sum they deem acceptable, who will they target to replace him?
One option is that they don’t sign anyone. Guardiola has recently been using Phil Foden in the wide positions, which could be a sign that the club are prepared to put him there long-term. With David Silva also leaving this summer, many expected Foden to take over his central role. However City have been linked with central midfielders including Lyon’s Houssem Aouar and Napoli’s Fabian Ruiz and this could be an explanation for that.
Another link that has come out in recent days is for Aston Villa skipper Jack Grealish. The 24 year old has constantly been linked with a move away from Villa Park and would likely be available for a lesser fee should the Midlands side get relegated. Grealish can play wide on the left and also as a No.10 or central midfielder, similar to David Silva. While his ability on the ball is clear to see and he’d seamlessly slot into a role on the left or midfield, his lack of pace could be seen as a reason not to go for him as a direct Sane replacement.
Taking that into consideration, another option could see the club try to bring back Jadon Sancho. The 20 year old hot property in Europe and is heavily linked with a move to rivals Manchester United but if you believe all reports, a transfer fee could be an issue. City have a sell-on clause on Sancho’s future, linked to when they originally sold him to Dortmund in 2017. They could use that as a way of getting the fee lowered by Dortmund and bring him back to the Etihad Stadium. His ball carrying ability and skill when one-on-one with a defender is something Guardiola would relish. He is comfortable on either wing and young too, which all add to his pros column. Something City may consider as a mark against him though, is his previous relationship with the manager. According to The Athletic, City and Guardiola had a problem with Sancho’s perceived arrogance that he deserved to be playing first-team football and could see him as a problem in the future in things like contract negotiations.
As a hipster shout, Calvin Stengs certainly has a strong case. Guardiola loves signing a young player and moulding him into his style while improving them ten-fold. He did it with Sane, Sterling, Pedro and Bernardo Silva and Stengs falls into that category. At 21 years old, the young Dutch winger is another left-footer with an eye for goals and assists. While he’s largely deployed from the right by his current side AZ Alkmaar, his skillset will certainly allow him to move over to the left in a Pep Guardiola side. He’s an excellent dribbler with a good passing range, capable of the killer pass as his 9 assists for the season shows. While his crossing could definitely use work, the way Guardiola tends to use his wide men means they don’t often cross the ball anyway so it wouldn’t be the end of the world. AZ Alkmaar will likely be bracing themselves for offers for their young starlet and with the current pandemic, a lesser fee than usual will likely be enough to secure a deal.
Man City know their squad is about to be in transition so this summer, while they’re chasing Liverpool, could be the perfect time for it. If they get recruitment right this summer and fill the holes that are gaping in their squad, then next season could prove to be the most exciting title race in a long time.