By Michael Church
HONGKONG (Reuters) – Manager Pep Guardiola admitted Leroy Sane’s future as a Manchester City player is beyond his control as speculation linking the Germany international with a return to his homeland continues to build.
Sane, who joined City from Schalke in 2016, has been a transfer target for Bayern Munich throughout the summer, and Guardiola remains determined to keep the 23-year-old at the Etihad Stadium.
“I like him a lot, I think he has an incredible chance to be better, incredible in terms of being connected in the game,” Guardiola said after Sane scored twice in City’s 6-1 win over Hong Kong side Kitchee late on Wednesday.
“I think I said two times or three times, we want to keep him. We want him to stay, that’s the reason why for more than one year he has an offer waiting to talk with his agent to extend the contract.
“It’s not in our hands or in my hands. He has to decide if he wants to stay and if our agreement is good. If he’s going to leave we will be sad, but what can we do? Hopefully he stays.”
The game against the Hong Kong Premier League side was City’s third in just over a week since arriving in Asia.
They will conclude their tour in Japan on Saturday when they take on Yokohama F Marinos, an outfit part owned by the club’s parent company City Football Group.
Guardiola’s team started the tour in China last week, but arrived two days later than scheduled before defeating West Ham United 4-1 in the semi-finals of the Premier League Asia Trophy.
City subsequently lost on penalties to Wolverhampton Wanderers in the final of the biennial event and have had to endure hot and humid conditions as they fine tune their preparations for the coming season.
Despite significant challenges with the schedule and climate, Guardiola claimed his players have been focused on their preparations rather than on the energy-sapping conditions.
“When I was a football player I complained a bit more but when I became a manager I changed my mind about the situations I cannot control, I adapt,” he said.
“So we know we have to be here, we do the training sessions we can do and play as best as possible.
“We were delayed and we couldn’t travel before, which was a pity but at the same time we could make training sessions in Manchester, which was good for everybody. That is what it is.
“I think great athletes – and we learn from them many, many times in the great teams – they never complain about what happened. When they lose you have to congratulate the opponent and say you will come back stronger.”
City, winners of all three trophies in English domestic football last season, face Liverpool at Wembley Stadium in the Community Shield next Sunday before kicking off the defence of their Premier League title at West Ham United on August 10.
(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)