Pep Guardiola has said he hopes Manchester City winger Leroy Sane will return in "February or March" after he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury in the Community Shield shootout win over Liverpool.
Sane came off injured in the first half of Sunday's 1-1 draw at Wembley Stadium and will undergo surgery on his right knee.
"I don't know. Normally these kind of injuries, six to seven months. Hopefully in February or March he can come back with us. I didn't think he was leaving. He didn't tell me he wanted to leave, he played the pre-season and he played in the final. Unfortunately it's incredibly bad news because in three seasons we have had three ACLs. He's a young player, hopefully he will recover well. He is in the best hands possible. All the people here are going to try to help him in the tough moment because he will feel alone after a few months."
Simon Bajkowski, Richard Fay and Joe Bray of the Manchester Evening News cited recent reports of Bayern Munich's strong interest in Sane, which has ended following news of his knee injury.
Injury analyst Ben Dinnery used City team-mate Benjamin Mendy—currently sidelined—as a comparison for Sane's injury:
The Frenchman has been the victim of knee injuries since he joined City from AS Monaco in July 2017. Mendy led the tributes wishing Sane well in his recovery:
Losing Sane robs City of one of the most gifted wingers in the Premier League, placing more pressure on Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez to stay fit on the left and right flanks, respectively. Bernardo Silva is another option out wide, though Guardiola has played the Portuguese more centrally at times.
Wednesday's signing of Joao Cancelo from Juventus could become all the more crucial in the wake of Sane's injury. He and Kyle Walker each give City competent attacking options on the right side; Guardiola could experiment with either full-back further upfield if necessary.
ESPN FC's Stephan Uersfeld recently wrote Bayern manager Niko Kovac apologised to Guardiola for his overtly public approach to recruiting Sane.
Guardiola has long maintained he wants to keep the Germany star but recently admitted contract talks were "a little bit different" following Bayern's campaigning.
Sport Witness highlighted the timing of his injury being confirmed on Thursday:
Sane's absence threatens to derail City's bid for a third successive Premier League crown before it has begun, not to mention denting their hopes in the UEFA Champions League.