Leroy Sané was omitted from the 2018 FIFA World Cup squad Monday morning, following his starting appearance in Germany’s 2-1 loss against Austria two days ago.
The 22-year-old winger made his international debut on September 13, 2015 and rose to fame when he left his boyhood club, FC Schalke, for Pep Guardiola-led Manchester City, which went on to win the English Premier League in record style this season. Most notably replacing Leroy Sané as wingers are Julian Draxler and Julian Brandt.
It seems that manager, Joachim Löw, fancies the name ‘Julian’. Or maybe it’s a “J” thing? Or maybe it’s Leroy’s inconsistent form with Die Mannschaft?
Löw spoke at a press conference moments ago regarding his decision saying:
That was a very close decision between him and Julian Brandt, which was made in favor of Brandt. Draxler, Reus and Müller are set. Leroy is a huge talent. He will be back again from September. He had not arrived in international matches yet. It was a very close decision. If it was a 100 meter race, it would have been a photo finish.
Although Sané scored in Germany’s final World Cup qualifying match against Azerbaijan last October, his goal-inflicted performance was the last time he played a full 90 minutes since a friendly against England seven months prior. Sané started four of the five friendlies played since then but has been substituted off or used as a substitute.
That's the end of @LeroySane19's shift, and here comes @woodyinho for his return (68')#DieMannschaft #ZSMMN #AUTGER 1-1 pic.twitter.com/pDoHck2CFR— Germany (@DFB_Team_EN) June 2, 2018
Technically, Sané is one of the fastest players Germany can offer going forward. He deserves the ‘flair’ trait on the FIFA video game and also exhibits impeccable dribbling skills in one-one-one situations. In perfect form, he’s the type of player that could lead the team in assists in a tournament. Unfortunately, the son of a Senegalese striker and a German gymnast, will not be able to showcase his athletic gifts this summer.
Sané was left out of the squad for the first two qualifying matches of September 2017 and missed the entire Confederations Cup last summer with a broken nose. For club, the Bane-resembling winger busted onto the club football scene this season, most notably, scoring two goals in a 5-0 rout of Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium the same month that Germany resumed World Cup qualification.
Sané has 11 caps with 0 goals in competitive matches for Die Mannschaft but Bayer Leverkusen winger, Julian Brandt, has an additional four caps and has scored once— the same match against Azerbaijan. We know, Azerbaijan is not very good.
The two players are born approximately four months apart and are relatively at the same stage of their careers. Don’t get me wrong, Leverkusen are no Manchester City, but Brandt has made his stamp on the first team, scoring twelve goals in the 2017-2018 campaign.
In addition to Brandt’s club form, the Bremen-born blonde was a part of the 2017 Confederations Cup German squad that lifted the trophy in Russia last summer, scoring a goal in the opening match against Australia in a 3-2 win. Brandt has been available and selected by Löw consistently since World Cup qualification resumed in 2017.
Both Sané and Brandt started, then substituted, for Die Mannschaft in the friendly against Austria. Who had the better performance? Was Saturday’s friendly the deciding factor?
Maybe an easier decision for Joachim Löw was to figure out who would be the alternative for Paris Saint-Germain’s Julian Draxler. The 24-year-old is the most experienced of the three, earning 43 caps, scoring six goals since making his debut in March 2012.
Leroy Sané and Draxler were once teammates at Schalke. Often times Sané’s chances were at the expense of Draxler’s absence, hinting at Draxler’s torn hamstring in the 2014-2015 season as Sané quietly took his place. Make what you want of that.
Yet, Draxler has always been the preference for Löw. He captained the German side in the Confederations Cup for goodness sake. Although Draxler hasn’t scored in a competitive match since September, his service from the flanks is needed for a skilled and unruly central midfield, along with a goal-thirsty forward group.
Maybe next time, sport.
Again, Sané is just 22-years-old and his best days are ahead of him. Let’s be honest here, his stock is rising at club level and Julian Draxler has one eye stamped to the back of his head, watching Sané’s progression. Sané will be looking forward to the UEFA Euros in 2020 to prove that Joachim Löw made a mistake.