Ottmar Hitzfeld Criticises Guardiola for Playing Leroy Sane in Community Shield

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistAugust 16, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 04: Pep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City talks to Leroy Sane of Manchester City as he leaves the pitch with an injury during the FA Community Shield match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium on August 04, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Clive Mason/Getty Images

Ottmar Hitzfeld has said Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was wrong to play Leroy Sane in the Community Shield after the winger suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury that has sidelined him for the remainder of the year.

Guardiola recently confirmed the issue will keep him out of action until "February or March." Sane was strongly linked with a move to Bayern prior to that, per Goal's Ronan Murphy.

Former Bayern Munich manager Hitzfeld took umbrage with Guardiola's decision to play Sane at Wembley Stadium four days before the Premier League transfer window shut.

The 70-year-old told Blick (h/t Goal's James Westwood): "I would not have done it, but if your club is about to sign such a big deal, you can not play your player in a rather insignificant game." 

City edged Liverpool 5-4 on penalties after drawing 1-1 at the end of 90 minutes. Sane, 23, came off after only 13 minutes.

Bayern were supposedly interested in the player following the departures of veteran wingers Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, the latter of whom has retired.

German football writer Christian Falk wrote that Bayern are interested in Sane despite his injury and would be interested in a cut-price deal considering his condition:

Christian Falk @cfbayern

@LeoulPrince The club would like to buy the player now and accompany him during the optation and rehabilitation. condition: @LeroySane19 should be cheaper

Hitzfeld is widely regarded as one of the best German coaches in history and won 14 titles with Bayern across two different spells, including five Bundesliga titles and one UEFA Champions League. 

Much of the indecision around Sane's future stemmed from the fact he has less than two years left on his contract, which is of some concern to City considering the age and talent of their star.

Squawka highlighted the former Schalke star's impact in recent seasons:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Leroy Sané has provided more Premier League assists (25) than any other player since the start of the 2017-18 season. Gutting to see him out injured. 😞 https://t.co/huOvzTTCyC

The Citizens stand to lose out on a substantial payday in the event Sane were to see out his contract and leave the club for free, and his injury isn't likely to provide any more clarity on his club future.

Hitzfeld also criticised Sane for his treatment of this summer's transfer saga, saying he should have made a public statement to address speculation: "I did not find it correct from Sane that he did not announce himself, neither to Bayern nor to Manchester City." 

Guardiola's success thus far at City often sees him evade negative judgement, though his decision to play Sane in the Community Shield could have lasting implications on the club and player's futures.