Sane needs to avoid distractions to improve

Leroy Sané has been encouraged to keep himself free from distraction and perfect simpler elements of the game to ensure he realises his vast potential.

Ilkay Gundogan believes the Manchester City winger has an abundance of talent but the Germany midfielder has echoed manager Pep Guardiola’s claims that his compatriot must address some key areas to elevate his performances to the next level.

Sané, 21, has scored nine goals in an impressive season so far and established himself as a first choice in Guardiola’s favoured forward line with Raheem Sterling and Sergio Agüero.

But Guardiola reacted to Sané’s first goal in 13 matches for City in the FA Cup win over Burnley last Saturday by warning the winger that, for all his gifts, he was still making “big mistakes” in the defensive and simpler aspects of his game that needed ironing out.

And Gundogan has elaborated on Guardiola’s remarks by urging Sané to keep a “clear mind” and to work on improving his first touch, ball retention with his back to goal, distribution in midfield and not focus solely on his dribbling and attacking runs.

City’s staff are determined to keep Sané’s feet on the ground after a meteoric rise since a difficult first few months in Manchester, when at least one member of the club’s top brass was questioning whether the club had made a mistake paying Schalke £37 million for the player.

“His first touch is always something he can improve,” said Gundogan as he prepares for City’s trip to Liverpool on Sunday. “How he keeps the ball from the opponent, with his back to the opponent, showing stability, being strong in one-on-ones. I don’t mean the offensive one-on-ones - trying to go to the opponent’s box - but playing the short, simple passes in midfield.

“In the last third, there’s so much potential in him. He has shown already he can score, assist, dribble - everything is there. It sounds easy, but I think he’s maybe more focused on his pace, the one-on-ones, his runs. It’s not always that easy. We are here to help him and he already improved.

“If he’s focused on doing the simple things, as perfect as possible, then everything is reachable for this guy.”

Sané is not yet a regular starter for Germany but, so long as he remains fit and in form, he is expected to be in Joachim Löw’s squad for the World Cup finals in Russia this summer and Gundogan believes the youngster just needs to ensure his concentration does not wander.

“If he keeps playing like he is at the moment and his mind is clear and focused then it’s only a matter of time,” Gundogan said of Sané’s prospects of becoming a permanent fixture for the world champions.

“He’s very good at the moment. I don’t think he’s at his best yet, which is a good thing. How he’s been playing now is interesting - assists, scoring goals. He’s really important for us, always doing the runs, so much pace. You can pass to him and be quite sure he’s going to reach the ball. His first touch may not be the greatest but with his pace it’s always possible to get to the ball.”

Guardiola is similarly excited by Sané’s potential but also wants the player to work hard on the weaker aspects of his game.

“I said to him many times I don’t have doubts how important he is for us because he makes runs in behind but there’s still a lot of things to improve,” the City manager said. “Leroy has mistakes in the simple things - big mistakes. He has a lot to improve.

“He is a special talent, we need his goals, but it’s how he defends, [goes] backwards. He’s only 21 and there was only one player I knew who could do everything at that age [Lionel Messi]. The other guys have absolutely many things to improve.”

Originally published by the Telegraph

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