The international break isn’t complete without a random Liverpool transfer link.
The second international break of the season has not disappointed with the Sunday Mirror linking the Reds with a move for Leroy Sane.
In an exclusive, the report claimed Liverpool had made the Bayern Munich winger their top transfer target for the summer if Mohamed Salah is to depart. A number of Saudi Super League clubs are interested in Salah and come the end of the season, he will have just 12 months remaining on his deal at Anfield. A big offer could tempt the Reds into cashing in on their legendary goalscorer, especially if he’s open to the move.
It is believed that Sane is top of the list to replace the 31-year-old and that the 2019/20 Premier League champions would also be prepared to “smash their club transfer record” to bring the Germany international back to England.
The existing record is the £75m paid for Virgil Van Dijk back in 2018, but the add-ons involved in the deal to bring Darwin Nuñez to Anfield could see him leapfrog the Dutchman. So, if the report is to be believed, Liverpool would be prepared to part with upwards of £85m to land the one-time Manchester City winger.
That would be a huge shift in the club’s transfer strategy. Sane is 28 in January and he’s into the final two years of his deal in Bavaria. He’s enjoying a fine start to the season with six goals in seven Bundesliga appearances. The Bayern number ten is well on course to have his best goalscoring season since returning to Germany. In fact, he looks likely to have the best goalscoring season of his career (ten league goals on two occasions for City).
But his time with the Bundesliga giants has been difficult, to say the least.
He can’t be judged on what he’s doing in this season alone. There have been managerial changes, system tweaks and the Germany international has been deployed across multiple roles. As a result, he’s not been quite as devastating as he was in the Premier League.
During his final two seasons with Man City, Sane scored 25 goals and racked up 20 assists across 4,230 minutes. For Bayern, he’s managed 21 goals across three seasons while assisting on 23 occasions. He went from averaging 22.5 goal involvements per season in England to averaging 14.6 in Germany. Sane also went from averaging 2,115 minutes per season to 1,900 for the Bavaria-based club.
What is interesting, however, is that he’s appeared in 32 of the 34 German top-flight matches in all three seasons. So that kind of dispels the myth that he’s injury-prone, doesn’t it? Though the club quite clearly manage his minutes and that is why he’s only managed over 2,000 minutes in a single season on one occasion.
🤤 Players in Europe's top 5 leagues with 25+ successful dribbles this season:
🇩🇪 Leroy Sane - 36
🇪🇸 Bryan Zaragoza - 28
🏴 Eberechi Eze - 27 pic.twitter.com/b4SUJxzJMm
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) October 10, 2023
The one-time Schalke winger signed for Bayern in 2020 for a deal believed to be in the region of £44m, without including add-ons. They would easily recoup that if he was sold next summer, even with his contract situation. But are they really going to get double that?
There may be interest there, if he’s on the market.
Liverpool tried to sign him before he joined Man City. Speaking a couple of years back, Sane said: “Yes, I was also talking with them. Jurgen was calling me too, talking to me. That was before I joined City.
“He did a good job at [Borussia] Dortmund—I met him when he was there. He’s a good guy, nice guy—honest. He [has] worked well with Liverpool.”
Sane would be a bit of a gamble. But sometimes a gamble pays off. His numbers paint a decent picture, too.
For example, during his time with Die Roten, he has a Non-Penalty Expected Goal (NPxG) average of 0.39 and an Expected Assist (xA) per 90 average of 0.27. He is a bit of a high-volume shooter though (3.5 per 90) so you would expect a higher NPxG90 average. His shot map (via Understat) tells a story.
He loves a shot from distance and, as you all know, most of these are low-value, so Sane would have to address this if he moved to Anfield as he’s wasting possession in decent parts of the pitch on a regular basis.
To round off the numbers section, he’s averaged 4.2 shot-creating actions per 90 since moving to Bayern. For context, Salah averages around 4.1 for Liverpool.
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to Sane.
Is he someone who could play 3,000 minutes plus every season? You can’t use previous data as a predictor but I foresee injuries if Liverpool attempt to considerably scale his minutes on the pitch.
What sort of salary is he going to command and is he worth the big money to the Reds?
Personally, I’m not convinced he would be a genuine target, even if his surface level numbers are decent.