Manchester CIty manager Pep Guardiola has issued a challenge to German winger Leroy Sane to prove he has the hunger to fight for his place in the Citizens' starting eleven.
The 22-year-old has been at the club since 2016 and was crowned PFA Young Player of the Year last season, but has failed to convince the Spanish manager that he deserves regular football at this moment in time.
Sane proved to be one of City's most influential players during the last campaign but has only played just 30 minutes of football after the first four games, and hasn't featured since their 1-1 draw against Wolves at the Molineux last month.
Some concerns about Sane's off-pitch attitude were raised when his countryman Toni Kroos surprisingly slammed his attitude and claimed that Sane did not always appear to care whether his side won or lost, and that his body language had to improve.
Quoted by the Mirror, Guardiola spoke to awaiting media in the pre-match press conference and dismissed Kroos' comments, but admitted that Sane has to illustrate that he has the stomach for the fight.
He said, “It’s normal, after what happened last season, that people ask about him.
“His body language is the same as last season and he was the best young player in the Premier League. Leroy was so important, is so important, and will be so important for the club. There’s no doubt about that. It’s a challenge for him - not just for him, for everybody.
“He’s a nice guy, so I don’t have any bad words about him. We are here to try to help, not just him, but everybody."
The former Barcelona manager also answered to questions about his preferred man to play out on the left hand side for City, out of the options that he has available to him in his squad.
“It’s a challenge for the players to keep their level and compete with their mates. It’s the only way to maintain the level we achieved last season.
“It’s not about, ‘I don’t like you anymore’ or ‘I prefer this one or the other one.’ When I don’t like one player, at the end of the season I go to the club and say I don’t want to work with that guy, if it’s possible, and I want to change them.
“That’s not the case (with Sane). Everybody is here because after three seasons I want to work with them and I think they want to work with us."