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Man City know what they need to do after Leroy Sane transfer to Bayern Munich

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If Manchester City could wind the clock back 12 months there's probably quite a few things Pep Guardiola and the club would admit to doing differently, at least in private.

Pushing harder for a replacement for Vincent Kompany is probably top of the list, given the defensive frailties that have plagued their title defence, but Guardiola would probably also pick a slightly different team in the Community Shield. Leroy Sane started at Wembley that day, with City not risking Riyad Mahrez after being unable to confirm the ingredients of a nasal spray used in the African Cup of Nations, but the serious knee injury he picked up in the early stages has had several knock-on effects.

But for that injury Sane would almost certainly have moved to Bayern Munich last summer. Instead that deal has had to wait 12 months, with the Germany winger now only a year away the end of his contract.

City might be happy to have got £55million for the 24-year-old in the current climate, but it's still at least £30million less than they would have got a year ago. Those 13 minutes at Wembley last August have proved to be very expensive.

Sane's injury was always likely to only delay his move to Bavaria rather than derail it, and so it's proved. That meant City have had a season to have a 'dry run' at replacing him and while they've scored goals at an exceptional rate, there is a feeling that their attack has become a little too predictable at times without him. Sane is an old-fashioned winger in a way, a quick, left-footed, left-sided player, capable of bursting down the outside of a full-back as well as clever link-up play.

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It's clear he and Guardiola haven't always seen eye-to-eye. The Catalan's exasperation with Sane during the decisive win over Leicester City in last season's title race sticks in the mind, but he offers something different compared to the likes of Raheem Sterling, Riyad Mahrez and Bernardo Silva, who tend to occupy the wide spots for City.

While Mahrez has had a consistently good season, Sterling hasn't been as good as the last couple of years and Bernardo has seen his standards suffer after winning City's player of the year honours last season. Gabriel Jesus and Phil Foden have both shown they can play wide, but the Blues have, at times, been crying out for the kind of attacking impetus only Sane can offer them.

The issue of playing Jesus or Foden in that role is that it only creates problems elsewhere. Moving the Brazilian to a permanent spot on the wing means Sergio Aguero would be leading the line every week, and while Guardiola clearly likes Foden to be as close to the area as possible, the academy graduate has been earmarked to inherit David Silva's role.

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It is the departure of Silva that is adding to the headache that is City's transfer priorities this summer. From the squad that won back-to-back titles under Guardiola they are now about to lose Kompany, Silva and Sane and all three will need replacing. It's been obvious this season that a central defender has to be top of the list this summer, but it's difficult to see how the Blues can cope with only replacing Silva and Sane internally.

Now the task of what is a relatively tricky rebuild is complicated by the financial fallout across the game from the COVID-19 pandemic. The transfer market will stagnate and fees will fall, and the Sane deal is the first example of that, but doing multiple big-money deals this summer is going to be difficult for any club.

That's where the failure to replace Kompany last season is going to feel even more painful now. Having seen the Premier League title head to Merseyside, Guardiola will already be plotting how to win it back, but there are gaps to plug as well. Bayern Munich have got themselves a bargain with Sane, now City need to find some of their own.




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