Leroy Sané is the surprise omission from Germany 23-man squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
He is one of four players dropped from the provisional list of 27, with Bernd Leno, Jonathan Tah and Nils Petersen, who made his international debut in the defeat to Austria, also missing out.
Manuel Neuer is fit to captain the team, having proved his fitness in the training camp in South Tyrol, as well as in Saturday’s match, his first in eight months.
After a stellar season for Premier League champions Manchester City, Sané was considered by many to be a shoo-in for the squad, making his absence all the more surprising when it was confirmed on Monday morning.
Explaining his decision to leave the 22-year-old, Joachim Löw said that it had been a choice between him and Bayer Leverkusen’s Julian Brandt. “In the end it was tight,” he said. He explained that Brandt had impressed him in last year’s FIFA Confederations Cup, as well as in training,
Both Brandt and Sané have been frequent members of the squad in the past couple of years, however nose surgery had ruled Sané out of the warm-up competition in Russia last year. He has also struggled to make an impact in a Germany shirt so far, with just one assist, compared to the one goal and two assists provided by Brandt.
“Leroy has a huge talent and he’ll be there again,” continued the World Cup-winning coach of four years ago, who also pointed out to the balance to the squad was a key factor in his omission as well. “We cannot take a player away from a defensive position,” he said. “If something happens at the back, we need alternatives,” he finishing, seemingly endorsing the selection of Bayern Munich utility-man Sebastian Rudy as well.
Not an easy decision
Of the other players to miss out, Leno was beaten to third goalkeeper’s spot by Kevin Trapp, despite the latter spent much of the season on Paris Saint-Germain’s bench. He had also made a critical mistake in the friendly against Brazil in March. Nevertheless, Löw has stuck with his man.
Both might have made it to Russia had Neuer failed in his attempts to make the tournament, but a solid display against Austria did enough to allay any lingering doubts. “He has assured us that he feels 100 percent fit,” confirmed Löw, “and that his foot didn’t cause him any problems against Austria.”
At least one defender was always expected to miss the cut, and that has turned out to be Leno and Brandt’s Leverkusen team-mate Tah. Meanwhile Petersen, the surprise pick in the provisional squad, struggled to stake his claim against the Austrians, with Mario Gómez going as back-up striker to likely started Timo Werner.
“There are no doubt nicer days in life than when you have to send four players home,” admitted Löw, who added that trimming his squad down “certainly wasn’t an easy decision.” Nevertheless he added “we still believe in their abilities.”
Quotes via Manchester Evening News and DFB.