Signing Leon Bailey Alone Won't Fill the Void Left by Leroy Sane at Manchester City

Leon Bailey
FC Porto v Bayer 04 Leverkusen - UEFA Europa League Round of 32: Second Leg | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Strap yourselves in for another protracted transfer saga, ladies and gentlemen, because Leroy Sane's seemingly inevitable move to Bayern Munich doesn't look to be as simple as it once looked.

Despite Sane's desires to make the switch to Bavaria, the financial implications of COVID-19 mean Die Roten are currently only willing to offer €40m for a player City once valued at €150m when the two clubs started negotiations last year.

Leroy Sane
Leroy Sane is set to switch Manchester for Bavaria at the end of the season, providing the two clubs can reach an agreement | Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

The pair will have to reach a compromise, although it's incredibly tough to envisage Sane strutting his stuff in sky blue next season.

And with the Cityzens' issues without the electric German in the side there for all to see as he nursed an ACL tear, Pep Guardiola appears to already be actively pursuing the 24-year-old's replacement at the Etihad: Bayer Leverkusen's Leon Bailey.

Now, if this rumour had surfaced in 2018, it would've been met with significant excitement. Bailey, fresh off the back of a majestic breakout campaign in Germany, would've bolstered City's imperious 'Centurions' in attack - likely rotating his minutes with Sane, who had made 25 Premier League goal contributions in Guardiola's maiden title victory on British shores.

But unfortunately, we're in 2020 and from what we've seen post-that breakout campaign, the Jamaican international may not be the best option for the Cityzens despite their clear admiration for the player.

Heiko Herrlich, Leon Bailey
Leon Bailey made a name for himself during his debut season in Leverkusen, starring under Heiko Herrlich's tutelage | TF-Images/Getty Images

Following a 15-goal contribution campaign in 2017/18 which saw him tracked by many of Europe's elite, Bailey's time in Leverkusen has since been defined by moments, with only mere glimpses of his talent ever on display. He's struggled mightily for consistency, while a pair of muscular injuries thwarted the start of his 2019/20 campaign.

After getting rotated in and out the side last term to ensure greater success in the Europa League (it didn't work, they exited at the first knockout stage), Peter Bosz has ultimately found more reliable wide players who can efficiently carry out their functions in the Dutchman's system.

And amid Die Werkself's mightily impressive Rückrunde resurgence, Bailey has started just once, scoring twice, however. These strikes also came against Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig.

Nevertheless, with Bosz either opting for a 3-4-2-1 or 4-2-3-1 since the turn of the new year; Karim Bellarabi, Moussa Diaby and even 17-year-old Florian Wirtz have been favoured over the Jamaican, and when Kevin Volland's been fit, Kai Havertz has also been deployed behind the front man.

Kai Havertz
Kai Havertz has certianly taken the mantle from Bailey as Die Werkself's 'golden boy' | Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

However, despite consistency woes, what still makes the 22-year-old such an intriguing prospect are the sporadic flashes of brilliance.

Whether it be the splendid free kick to topple Bayern amid a underwhelming five-goal 2018/19 season, the emphatic first-half brace at the Allianz Arena in November 2019 or the coolly taken right-footed effort to draw Leverkusen level in the eventual 4-3 victory over Dortmund back in February; he's often teased his undeniable talent.

And overall, it's understandable as to why City are in hot-pursuit of the Leverkusen winger. His profile is somewhat similar to Sane's, and ideal for a Guardiola wide man.

When deployed on the left, the naturally left-footed Bailey is encouraged to hug the touchline in a similar vein to Sane at City. Thus, Die Werkself can stretch the pitch, easily combine in central areas as a result of the space created, while he can exploit the space in behind the defence with his blistering speed.

FC Bayern Muenchen v Bayer 04 Leverkusen - Bundesliga
Bailey has racked up just 740 minutes in the Bundesliga this season, as Bosz continues to favour other options | Jörg Schüler/Getty Images

While the technically proficient Jamaican is a fine operator in one-on-one situations - as highlighted by his 5.09 dribble attempts per 90 since the start of 2017/18 at an impressive 66% success rate - what's probably intrigued Guardiola the most is his ambidexterity, capacity to play on both flanks and knack of picking out teammates in the box with low crosses and cut-backs - a ploy encouraged by the City boss.

Overall, Guardiola's influence on Bosz ultimately means Bailey fits the mould from a tactical perspective at the Etihad.

But the Jamaican alone isn't enough to fill the void left by a departing Sane.

While a multitude of issues led to the CItyzens' demise this season, the German's pre-season injury was certainly one of them.

Without Sane's frightening speed, almost untrackable off the ball movements and willingness to penetrate in behind a deep defensive line, City's attack has often gone stale and on occasions, Guardiola has been over reliant on Kevin De Bruyne's ability to penetrate the right half-space and work his magic.

Leroy Sane, Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola has struggled to cope with Leroy Sane's absence this season | Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

What also can't be overlooked is Sane's productivity in the final third. In 134 games for the club, the German's notched 39 goals and 45 assists, while in his last two full Premier League campaigns, he was able to score 20 times despite only boasting an expected goals total of 10.6.

His superb shooting technique means he scores goals he simply shouldn't.

City have a huge task on their hands replacing the 24-year-old and should undoubtedly overlook splurging £40m on Bailey despite their desires.

For all the glimmers of hope he may be returning to his 2017/18 best and the fact he appears to fit Guardiola's tactical blueprint, consistency woes just can't be ignored and at the end of the day, Bailey's currently only good enough for a bit-part role in a side which currently sit fourth in the Bundesliga.

The 22-year-old Jamaican hasn't been influential amid his side's recent upturn in form
The 22-year-old Jamaican hasn't been influential amid his side's recent upturn in form | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

For a side in desperate need of a domestic resurgence next term without Sane, Bailey simply isn't of ample quality to fill the German's void. He's a tier or two inferior.