They are the sort of words Pep Guardiola would never publicly utter and as such, Toni Kroos may well have done the Manchester City manager’s job for him.
Leroy Sane – back in the Germany squad – was the topic of conversation this week ahead of the match with France and Kroos did not hold back in his assessment of the winger’s malaise.
‘He’s someone who has everything you need to be a world-class player but sometimes you have to tell him he has to perform better,’ the Real Madrid midfielder said.
Leroy Sane has found himself confined to the bench at Manchester City so far this season
SANE’S SLOW STARTS
Sane’s start to 2017-18*
Premier League starts: 1
Appearances from bench: 3
Minutes played: 134
Sane’s start to 2018-19*
Premier League starts: 0
Appearances from bench: 3
Minutes played: 30
*First four games of league season
Herein lies the crux of Sane’s current predicament. He was dropped by Guardiola for the win over Newcastle United because of a dip in intensity at the club’s training base, although the manager insists there is no major problem. The 22-year-old endured similar last term and did not play a full match in the Premier League until September 23.
So in that sense this is nothing new, and Sane went on to win the PFA Young Player of the Year. But the worry for City must be that the same issues appear to be repeating themselves. That is not sustainable over time, and Guardiola could really have done with him flying out of the traps given many of his squad went deep into the World Cup.
At Schalke they tell you a story of an Under-19 match against Wuppertal, 24 hours after Sane had made the bench for the first-team. The coach, Norbert Elgert, was agitated by his lack of energy in the opening five minutes and ordered more movement. Sane did not listen and found himself hooked after 10 minutes.
Sane has since told Sportsmail that ‘it was an importance experience,’ and revealed how ‘angry and upset’ he was afterwards. ‘There was perhaps the thought that I maybe didn’t have to do it as much,’ he said.
Sane’s picture is pulled down at the Germany football museum after his World Cup exclusion
Sane instead enjoyed a holiday with girlfriend, Candice Brook (left), in California this summer
He has undoubtedly shone at City after the first six months of his time in England were plagued by homesickness and his mum, Olympic bronze medal gymnast Regina Weber, travelled over from Germany every few weeks.
Ilkay Gundogan took him under his wing before Sane settled and spent an increasing amount of time with friends from Gelsenkirchen.
Sources claim Sane’s manner altered as he began to star later that year, before becoming such an integral part of the record-breaking campaign that blew the Premier League away. Yet now, having played just 30 minutes of league football so far, it is difficult not to look back on that afternoon at Schalke.
There is some mitigation, however. Sane’s girlfriend, 31-year-old Candice Brook, is soon due to give birth to their first child and is understood to be moving from California to his city-centre apartment. Brook, an American model, has at least one other son, Tobias.
Sane has been on the bench with Sergio Aguero starting alongside Gabriel Jesus (not pictured)
Pep Guardiola has been trying to prompt a response from Sane after a drop in hs intensity
Guardiola is trying everything to prompt a response, and making him sit up in the executive boxes last Saturday is as drastic as it gets for an individual who has such supreme talent. Sane’s demeanour up there was exactly as it is around the training ground and on the pitch.
You never quite know what he is thinking, in a similar way to Anthony Martial at Manchester United. Sane is actually so relaxed that he once fell asleep on the team bus travelling 800 yards from the training ground to the Etihad Stadium before a match.
Even around the team’s hotel in America during pre-season, Sane was seen with hood up and generally not in the mood to converse. That is when Guardiola asserted he was ‘far away’ from his best.
Kroos has said what many at City are thinking. ‘Maybe the head coach (Joachim Low) looked at his performances for the national team and wasn’t happy,’ he added.
‘Sometimes you have the feeling with Leroy’s body language that it is all the same whether we win or lose. He has to improve his body language.’