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Opinion: Right-wing Leroy Sané a revelation for Bayern Munich

Julian Nagelsmann has Bayern’s big-time transfer humming.

Borussia Dortmund v FC Bayern München - Bundesliga Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Leroy Sané had endured an uncertain first two years in Bavaria after transferring in from Manchester City. Criticized for lapses tracking back in Hansi Flick’s high-octane, high-pressing attack, he sizzled and then fizzled in his first year under Julian Nagelsmann.

At the start of his third season at Bayern Munich, Sané looked like a man that might soon be confined to the bench — permanently. Teenage wunderkind Jamal Musiala was taking that left half-space and beasting it for both club and country...which in both cases, was Sané’s same team and position.

But let nobody doubt him now. Sané has exploded back onto the scene just when Bayern needed him most. His four Bundesliga goals is tied for second on the team, and he’s got four more in his Champions League tally. And he’s managed to shine left, right, and center in order to accommodate his teammates.

First it was Musiala owning that left wing / left-sided ten position prior to some early-season minor injuries. Then it was new signing Sadio Mané moving back out to his inverting left winger position from his older Liverpool days. Add in the COVID-19 cases and suspensions...Bayern’s front four in 2022/23 have been through it all. Sané’s flexibility and consistency has been key to his re-emergence.

Julian Nagelsmann deserves serious credit for finding a way to make it all work. As well as for taking long-standing myths about the mercurial winger (“he can’t play on the right!”) and trashing them.

In contrast to his pure winger days, for example, Sané is now drifting centrally from any starting position, and often dropping deep to be the team’s outlet on the counter. His burst of pace also helps him make a late run on goal in transition — the kind of deployment that is precisely the cure for a team’s clinical finishing woes.

Out of possession, too, Sané finds a different role in the Bayern pressing structure. He’s counter-pressing with vigor, high and narrow, rather than being one of the key players to track back on the wing.

With Mané now on the left, Sané has shown he can do this all just as well on the right. And when Musiala or Müller aren’t available, then Sané is the man to step in and instantly play the #10 — like the jersey he wears so well. The picture around him may be constantly shifting, but Sané is Bayern’s constancy, its north star in attack.

Bayern’s other wingers, Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry, have extended their contracts in successive offseasons. Now Sané finds himself, of the three, the one whose current deal is soonest to expire — in 2025. Whenever that conversation comes, however, Sané looks to be building a great case for a long-term renewal.

What an absolutely mesmerizing player. Let’s appreciate how lucky Bayern have been to have him.

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