To say there were raised eyebrows when Germany coach Joachim Low announced his 23-man squad hoping to defend the World Cup trophy in Russia would be an understatement.
In 32 Premier League appearances for the Sky Blues, Sané scored ten goals and contributed a further 15 assists, terrorising defences across the country with a potent cocktail of speed, skill and irresistible close control.
There were few sights as marvellous as witnessing Sané in full flight, skipping past the despairing lunge of yet another defender left on his heels by the German’s wing wizardry.
But Low remained unimpressed and chose to omit the former Schalke star from his travelling party, to widespread shock on these shores.
“It was a tight race between Leroy Sané and Julian Brandt,” he said, defending his decision to the German press ahead of the tournament.
Die Mannschaft would go on to exit the World Cup at the group stage following a disastrous defence of the trophy, losing to Mexico and South Korea in their worst performance at the tournament since 1938.
More than six months on from the disappointment of missing out on his “dream”, Sané opened up to BT Sport about how a frustrating summer renewed his desire to improve.
“Obviously it was hard for me but I think at the end I was just like, ‘OK, you have to keep on going’,” the £37m man said.
“I think if you start thinking about it and being mad and trying to find excuses and talk about it, I think it doesn’t help you at all.
“You will just think back: 'what happened?' And you’re not focused on what happens the next season. You have to play better to improve, maybe for the next World Cup or to be involved in some other tournaments.
"For me it was just like a big motivation: ‘Yeah, OK, now I have to do more and more and more.'”
And after a tricky start to the season, his hard work is clearly beginning to pay off.
Sané has been pivotal to City’s stunning post-Christmas form, scoring two goals and registering two assists in his last three games.
Pep Guardiola's champions are on an eight-game win streak in all competitions, scoring 33 and conceding just twice.
“We train a lot, especially in the tactics training, to know our routine,” Sané continued, revealing the secret to the Citizens’ unstoppable attack.
“To know exactly where we are or where the players are. [We train] in different situations so that we have always solutions.
“It’s not like we train just whatever and then after the training session we go on the pitch and it will just happen. It’s the same as set pieces. You have to practise it so everyone knows it. At a certain time, if you keep doing it and keep doing it then it becomes easier in your head.
“Pep always wants us, especially the strikers, to do our own thing and sometimes to create something different, not to be predictable.”
And while Sané’s eight goals and ten assists so far this season prove he is well on the way to matching last year’s impressive production, the young winger is determined to continue developing new weapons to catch Guardiola’s eye.
He added: “I’m training a lot now on my right foot to not be so predictable.
“Eventually everyone knows what you do, and if you have just one option it will be easy for the defenders to figure it out, especially if you do it in every game. That’s why I’m trying always to improve and become unpredictable.”
A difficult trip to St James’ Park awaits for the champions on Tuesday night, with the game set to be broadcast exclusively live on BT Sport.
Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez is likely to field another defensively-minded 5-4-1 in the hope of frustrating City – but in Sané, Guardiola possesses a human hole-punch tailor-made for the occasion.
Analysing the challenge posed by teams like Newcastle, the youngster added: “We know that like some teams like really staying deep and want to defend, try to get set-pieces or set up counter-attacks to create goalscoring chances against us.
“We always have a solution for it and Pep always prepares really well before those games to find the spaces where we can attack, where we can find our players and we can play well.”
Newcastle v Man City will be shown exclusively live on BT Sport 1 HD, BT Sport 4K UHD, BTSport.com and the BT Sport app on Tuesday 29 January at 7.30pm. You can read a full preview of the match right here.
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