If Leroy Sane moves to Bayern Munich this summer, at least Manchester City has already had a preview of what life will be like without the German winger.
The serious knee injury suffered by Sane in the community shield in August has paid off his chances of moving to Bavaria last summer and has so far wiped out his entire 2019/20 season in Manchester.
Sane has been training for a few weeks and if this season resumes at some point he will certainly have a role to play in the run-in, with the Azzurri still chasing the Champions League and the FA Cup.
But his name continues to be linked to a move in Bayern and, although it’s not a deal made at all, it would be no surprise if the giants of the Bundesliga didn’t at least try to resurrect a deal this summer.
This would leave Pep Guardiola with the decision to resume signing a replacement. Last summer he was adamant that he wouldn’t have needed to dive into the transfer market if Sane left, but this season’s rehearsals could now force his hand.
The city’s problems were complicated by the loss of form of Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva, both of whom were well below the standards established last quarter. While Riyad Mahrez has impressed the usual threat from outside the Blues he has not been there this season and this has damaged their attacking game.
At their best City was successful thanks to the double threat of Sterling and Sane on the wings, with both of them able to beat their man outside, lengthening the game and giving the midfielders more space to operate. In this season, City’s broad play has been more pedestrian and predictable. It’s just one of many reasons why standards have slipped.
During this season it becomes increasingly evident that Guardiola’s team needs a restyling, a new injection of ideas and energy. If Sane leaves, then signing another attacker will become a priority.
But perhaps the boss of the city could look back to La Liga to find a dynamic young wing that could help the Blues to rediscover that x factor in a broad sense.
Valencia’s 20-year-old winger, Ferran Torres, will be linked with many of Europe’s biggest clubs this summer, with Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus and Liverpool, all of whom are cited as potential suitors.
But the youngster could also be a good choice for City, giving Guardiola another broad option and a versatile player who can keep the width or drift inside to help build the game with attacking midfielders like Kevin De Bruyne.
Despite turning 20 just last month, Torres has already made 88 appearances for Valencia and while only nine goals have been scored, his coaches have cheered him on.
Torres has yet to make his debut in Spain, but the Under 17 coach Santi Denia has described it as the “technically complete package”, which must be music for Guardiola’s ears.
“It has everything it needs to get the most out of it. Speed, skill, technically it’s the complete package,” he said.
“He is combative, but what he has above all is the rhythm and immediacy towards the modern players they need.”
If City is looking for a new dose of unpredictability, then Valencia Academy recruiting director Jose Gimenez believes that this is exactly what Torres offers.
“It is powerful, fast, stable with the ball at its feet and strong in the air. It is unpredictable,” he said
“When he runs with the ball at his feet, he can go in or out of his man because he is two feet away. He can cross, finish and shoot. “
It may be a slightly distorted review, but anyone who has seen Torres shine in La Liga and the Champions League this season can see what Gimenez means. It is rightly one of the hottest prospects in Europe.
It seems certain that Torres will leave his kids club this summer. His 100 million euro release clause in his contract may seem steep, but his contract at Mestalla expires in the summer of 2021, which offers interested clubs ample room to maneuver to reduce that commission.
The cities under Guardiola are always reluctant to overpay for players and won’t appreciate a bidding war if it comes to this, but Torres could offer just what the City needs next season if Sane were to really come home.