Schalke manager Andre Breitenreiter has admitted his star player Leroy Sane will one day have to choose between playing for Barcelona and Real Madrid. However, he has reaffirmed his desire to keep hold of the youngster for the time being with Manchester United and Liverpool among his other reported suitors.
Breitenreiter told German outlet Sport Bild (h/t AS):
The statements made by our CEO, Clemens Toennies, and our sporting director, Horst Heldt, are very clear, as are Leroy’s performances on the pitch. We understand that this is the dream of every young player. It was always a dream of mine to play for Barcelona or Real Madrid. He’ll have to choose between one and the other. He’s in good hands here if he decides to stay. He can develop here and take the next step later.
I’m not thinking about selling Leroy to another club. I think it’s too soon for him to move to a big club, he’s still developing.
The youngster burst onto the scene last season with an impressive performance and goal against Real Madrid in the Champions League, and his exploits in the Bundesliga since then have seen him attract the attention of Europe's elite.
Sane—who only turned 20 on January 11—has scored and assisted five goals apiece for Schalke this season.
One of the exciting prospect's biggest strengths is his dribbling, per WhoScored.com:
Leroy Sané: Only Karim Bellarabi (49) has completed more successful dribbles in the Bundesliga this season than Sané (48)— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) December 17, 2015
Indeed, as the video below demonstrates, the winger combines his mazy running with pace, great technical skill, an eye for goal and the ability to pick out his team-mates with composure:
As a result, football writer Alex Chaffer does not believe Sane is flattering to deceive:
Leroy Sane is the real deal.— Alex Chaffer (@AlexChaffer) September 26, 2015
Per Bundesliga expert Clark Whitney, the German's form was recognised last year with a prestigious award:
Leroy Sane voted Footballer of the Year in the North Rhine-Westphalia. Big accolade in the region that has produced Özil, Neuer, Reus, etc— Clark Whitney (@Mr_Bundesliga) December 12, 2015
Being the two biggest giants of all in Europe, it's unsurprising Real and Barca are among his prospective suitors, while he's also reportedly a target for the likes of United and Liverpool, per Stefan Bienkowski of the MailOnline.
While as Breitenreiter noted he would indeed benefit from regular first-team football and it would be best for him to continue his development at Schalke—comparatively away from the limelight—sooner or later he's likely to make the step-up to a bigger stage.
Of the two Spanish giants, Barca currently seem the more likely destination.
What will be Sane's next club?
The Blaugrana may well look to recruit a long-term replacement for Pedro in the near future, while Real are set to be hit with a transfer ban for the next two windows.
Though that would not stop them from snapping him up and registering him after the ban ends, sitting on the sidelines for an extended period of time would be harmful for his development and so he may not pick that option.
It's far from inconceivable the youngster ends up in the Spanish capital, though, especially if he heads to England first.
What's clear is that Sane has a big future ahead of him, and there's a strong possibility he'll be lighting up European football for years to come.