One of the most striking aspects of Manchester City’s football this season has been the width provided by Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane, two incredibly talented young players who look set to have long and successful careers at the Club.
They both offer pace in wide areas and the ability to beat defenders, adding a new dimension to City’s play. Not only are both players effective, they excite fans and make City one of the most thrilling and entertaining teams in the Premier League.
Playing with wingers who are direct and prepared to run at defenders has been a feature of Pep Guardiola’s management career. He likes quick players who hug the touchline and attack full-backs at every opportunity. That, he believes, helps stretch the play and create space infield for the team’s central midfielders make their mark. Sterling and Sane are his new Robben and Ribery.
Sterling has perhaps been City’s most consistent player this season, while Sane, after a difficult start, burst into life with a devastating display against Arsenal in December. Since then, with the two of them in form together, City have been an ever-improving attacking entity. The future looks very bright indeed.
And on Wednesday, injury and selection permitting, they could face one another as Germany and England go head to head in a friendly in Dortmund. Two players, great friends off the field, set to try and outdo one another on the international stage.
But how do their stats at Club level compare this season?
It’s difficult to compare the two players given Sane took time to adapt to English football and was integrated into the side slowly. Sterling has been a regular in the side all season, whereas Sane’s place in Guardiola’s first XI was only established at the turn of the year.
In terms of scoring and creating goals, Sterling has made more telling contributions. He has been directly involved in 17, scoring nine and assisting a further eight, whereas Sane has managed seven goals and three assists.
However, the German’s productivity has risen sharply since his breakthrough display at home to Arsenal. All seven of his goals have come in his last 14 appearances - a period that his seen his stock rise rapidly. Over the whole season, Sterling has managed a goal every 4.5 games, while Sane has scored one every 3.7.
Tellingly, Sterling has taken an average of two shots per game in the Premier League. Sane is far more conservative, taking an average of one shot per game.
In his 25 Premier League games, Sterling has created an average of 1.5 chances per game. Sane is slightly behind with an average of 1.2 from his 16 league games.
Sterling has completed slightly more of his passes in the Premier League (81% v 79%) but in the Champions League they are neck-and-neck (84% v 84%). Given their wide roles, those are very impressive figures.
It’s similarly tight in terms of their successful take one. In the Premier League, Sane shades it (61% v 57%) but in the Champions League they’ve both completed 56% of their attempts to go past defenders.
At the moment, Sterling's stats for the season put him ahead of Sane - but with the German constantly improving, there is likely to be little between them come May.