Leroy Sane not being punished over contract, says Pep Guardiola
By Dan Sansom
Last Updated: 14/04/19 4:31pm
Pep Guardiola insists Leroy Sane is not being punished for his failure to agree a new contract at Manchester City.
Sane has started just three of the last 11 games in all competitions, with Riyad Mahrez most recently preferred to him for the Champions League defeat to Tottenham on Tuesday.
The Germany international's lack of regular football comes at a time when he is locked in talks over a new deal at the Etihad, but Guardiola says that is playing no part in his team selections.
"I have said many times how important Leroy has been for us in good or bad moments," he said.
"He knows the reason why he hasn't played lately. We spoke often with him - myself and my people - on and off the pitch and we want the best."
Sane was named the PFA Young Player of the Year in City's record-breaking title triumph last season, but he has often been overlooked this term.
There were concerns about his focus at the start of the season, but Guardiola maintains the belief that the 23-year-old is one of the most exciting attacking talents in Europe.
"Of course there is competition from the other ones," he added. "In some specific games we need it and in some specific games I prefer a type of player to have more control.
"My admiration and trust with him is intact. It's there, but I always want more."
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Guardiola also referred to Ilkay Gundogan, another player who has so far refused new terms, but is getting plenty of playing time.
"Gundogan would not play if that was a reason why," he said. "Gundogan has one year left and doesn't want to extend so he would not play and he plays ahead of Kevin De Bruyne.
"I take the decisions on the pitch, what I believe in that moment, what I feel, and take a decision."
Manchester City take on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League, hoping to return to the top of the table before Liverpool play Chelsea at Anfield later in the day.