In Focus: Bayern star Sane is fast becoming Jul in Nagelsmann's crown
Bayern Munich fans have had to be patient with Leroy Sane — but good things come to those who wait.
The former Manchester City winger almost joined the Bavarians in 2019 before a serious knee injury scuppered the move.
He then endured a tough first season in Munich under Hansi Flick after finally arriving a year later.
The 26-year-old now has six goals and six assists in just eight Champions League appearances so far this season, having managed only three strikes and provided once for his team-mates in the same number of outings last term.
We take a look at how Sane rediscovered top form ahead of Bayern’s quarter-final first leg against Villarreal.
Life before Bayern
Having arrived at City from Schalke as a raw, 20-year-old prospect in 2016, Sane blossomed into a lethal weapon under Pep Guardiola.
The winger recorded 14 strikes and 19 assists in all competitions in the 2017-18 season and followed up the following campaign by matching his assist tally and scoring two more goals.
It was that level of performance that turned heads at Bayern. When the Bundesliga giants came calling, Sane could not resist the lure of returning to his homeland.
A deal would have happened in the summer of 2019 but with terms between Sane and Bayern reportedly agreed, the winger tore his cruciate ligament in the Community Shield, all but ending his season.
Sane the substitute
When Bayern finally got their man for an initial £41million in July 2020, not everybody was best pleased.
Then-head coach Flick wanted to sign Timo Werner from RB Leipzig and was unimpressed when Sane arrived instead.
Sane was afforded the full 90 minutes just six times in the Bundesliga in that season and was unable to cement a place in the starting line-up.
However, Flick — who has since become Germany coach — dismissed talk of a rift between the two last year.
He said: "It was said that we had problems in Munich, that’s nonsense and wrongly interpreted."
Not quite right
Those struggles were in large part down to Sane’s consistent deployment on the right wing.
Despite being a left-footed winger, Sane is at his most effective when featuring on his natural side with almost all his appearances for City coming on that flank.
Flick used Sane as an inverted winger and his replacement Julian Nagelsmann spotted the player’s discomfort on the right after his third game in charge — a 3-2 victory over Cologne in August last year.
Speaking after the game, he said: "On the right, he’s often in a situation that he wants the ball to his [left] foot, and then he’s with his back to goal.
"That’s not his greatest skill. On the left, there’s more depth to his game. It’s in front of him."
Back to his best
After failing to record a direct goal contribution in his first three outings of the campaign from the right, Sane has since struck 14 times and recorded 15 assists in his subsequent 35 appearances across all competitions.
In a season where star striker Robert Lewandowski has dominated the headlines once more, the significance of Sane’s contribution has perhaps gone under the radar.
Only Lewandowski has more goals for Bayern in all competitions this season (45) than he does and only Thomas Muller has managed more assists (19).
Encouragingly, Sane’s underlying numbers this season are just as impressive as his end product.
The winger ranks third in the Bundesliga for total shots (84), fifth for shots on target (32), third for take-ons attempted (106) and joint-fourth for take-ons completed (56).
The vast majority of those have come from the left flank, with his confidence restored by his deployment on his favoured side.
His resurgence will be crucial to Bayern as they look to claim a seventh European crown this season.