The recent signing of Leroy Sané for £37 million was another signal of intent from new Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, as he builds a side that he deems fit to play his dynamic, passing style of football to make an assault on the Premier League title, and indeed on Europe.
The 20-year-old midfielder arrived from Bundesliga outfit FC Schalke 04, featuring on 33 occasions in the 2015/16 Bundesliga, scoring eight times as the Gelsenkirchen club finished fifth. The youngster also appeared for Germany at Euro 2016, where he helped Die Mannschaft reach the semi-finals.
With the signing of an exciting young winger to really get Citizens supporters off their seats; especially as he always looked bright during his showings for Germany also, the questions have already been raised as to what consequence Sané’s arrival will have on a faded talent at Manchester City – £49 million man Raheem Sterling.
Sterling enjoyed a positive start to his Manchester City career and was a bright spark in the side under Manuel Pellegrini out wide. Across all competitions he made 50 appearances and scored 11 goals, but towards the end of the campaign he suffered a dramatic loss of form which he carried into his England performances at Euro 2016, and was one of the tournament flops in a dismal campaign which ended at the hands of Iceland.
Sterling, at 21, still has much promise, and may himself be far from the finished article, so does Sané’s arrival really mean it is the end for Sterling at Manchester City?
The signing of Sané gives Guardiola another wide option. He, like Sterling, has a wealth of technical ability at his disposal, and has a great deal of pace which helps make him adept in creating chances. Sané has proven himself capable of chipping in with goals, and has a positive team attitude and work ethic which sometimes seemed to lack in Sterling’s performances, particularly with the national team.
Under Guardiola’s guidance, he will make the transformation from raw talent to a more complete player, but that isn’t to say that the Catalan coach has given up completely on Raheem Sterling.
Form is of course temporary, and Sterling in his earlier days at City and at Liverpool has demonstrated on numerous occasions what he is capable of producing.
The guidance of Guardiola can also help the Kingston-born England international recover his desire, his form and his eye for goal, and the arrival of Sané will perhaps be more of a wake up call for the winger rather than a death knell to his stint at the Etihad.
The more likely casualty at City would be Samir Nasri, who only featured 13 times last season and returned for pre-season training overweight. It is more fading talent at City that Sané will replace to breathe new life into the side, rather than dislodge other promising young stars.
However, the arrival of the German will undoubtedly create competition for Sterling to really test his mettle, as well as keeping the likes of Jesus Navas, David Silva and Nolito on their toes.
The impact it will have on Sterling is more down to the character of the player. He can either use the arrival of the German as a further means of draining confidence, or he can treat the situation as a motivator to better his game and keep his place in the Manchester City first-team.
Though, if Sané capitalises on his strong vein of form and Sterling continues to disappoint, he can expect to featuring on the sidelines more than he wishes.
It will be a big season for Sterling in 2016/17, and he has much to prove in order to maximise his promising potential. The signing of Leroy Sané doesn’t present itself as the axe to that underlying talent, but more a challenge – another promising youngster looking to show what he is capable of, and the friendly competition for places between the two will only help each other better their individual game.
It isn’t out of the question that the two may feature together either, if Guardiola wishes to unleash the unknown outlet of youth on the City flanks, or even wishes to place either or both in a free role behind Sergio Aguero rather than running the channels.
However, it all hinges on how Sterling responds to the challenge of another promising youngster chomping at the bit for his place. It may just even help them develop a chemistry which may see them feature together on opposite flanks.
With a new boss, whose man-to-man management may just be the answer to his lack of form, Sterling is more than capable of recovering his form and using Sané as a positive springboard to kick-start his City career.
So, it is not the end for Sterling, but more a question of his character and a challenge to which he must step up and live up to his potential, and on a playing level another superb addition for Manchester City.
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