I told Jurgen Klopp to sign £37m German – reveals David Wagner

It wasn’t until the turn of the year that English football began to see what Germany was so excited about.

As outstanding as Gabriel Jesus has been since his £27m arrival from Palmeiras, it is the form of another emerging talent of the global game that has helped transform Pep Guardiola’s team.

Leroy Sane – a £37m signing from Schalke last summer – arrived at Manchester City with a reputation as the next super star of German football.

A player capable of rising to the heights Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil and Toni Kroos.Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil and Toni Kroos

Guardiola knew him from his three years working at Bayern Munich.

He was so convinced by the then 20-year-old’s potential that he convinced City to forge ahead with a deal straight away – knowing his former club planned to wait another 12 months before cherry-picking the latest talent off Germany’s production line.

Not even Schalke’s inflated valuation for a largely unproven prospect was enough to deter him.

David Wagner – the Huddersfield manager who aims pull off a famous FA Cup giant-killing against City on Saturday – was similarly enthused by Sane.

So much so, that he urged his best friend Jurgen Klopp to sign him.

“I knew him early,” said Wagner, who delivered his recommendation to Klopp when the two men were at Borussia Dortmund.

“He was more of a character because of his age and it was part of my job to mention the big talents of Germany to Jurgen.

“I made him aware of him for the first team of Dortmund, but he signed for Schalke.”

Sane’s balance and ability to move at speed with the ball at his feet have been pivotal to Guardiola’s three-pronged attack, alongside Jesus and Raheem Sterling.

In Germany they talk of his rapid twitch muscle fibres – a genetic blessing by virtue of his mother, who was rhythmic gymnastic champion.

His father, Souleyman, was a Senegal international.

Coaches who worked with Sane from an early age say he has his father’s speed, but superior technique.

Guardiola, who used him sparingly in the first half of the season, describes him as a rabbit in the headlights upon his introduction to the Premier League.

But with each passing game, the expectation placed on him, both in Manchester and his homeland, looks more justified.

Wagner is convinced the winger is ready to take his place among exalted names like Bayern’s Muller.

“We should not forget how young he is,” said the German. “He’s still a talent and not a finished one.

“What he delivered so far is extraordinary.leroy sane

“I’m a little bit surprised how consistent he’s been in recent weeks against big competition, but he has every talent, all the skills.

“I can’t speak about his character, but all the talents you need.”

If Guardiola, Klopp, Antonio Conte and Mauricio Pochettino are a part of a new generation of overseas managers transforming the Premier League, Wagner is doing likewise in the Championship.

The former Dortmund II coach was expected to follow Klopp to Liverpool.

Instead he took charge of Huddersfield, where his impact has been remarkable.

Under his guidance the Yorkshire side have mounted the most unlikely of promotion challenges – currently sitting third in the table, just five points off leaders Newcastle.

He has developed a reputation as a character – much like Klopp.

His enthusiasm irresistible – even if it has landed him in trouble with the FA for running onto the pitch to celebrate with his players following the last minute winner against Leeds at the start of the month.

Think Jose Mourinho, Porto v Manchester United and then some.

What followed was an altercation with Leeds manager Garry Monk and an FA charge.

In the summer, as Guardiola’s City were put up in five star hotels during their pre-season tour China, Wagner took his squad on a team bonding trip to wilds of Sweden.

In what sounds more like a Bear Grylls adventure than a summer tour, Huddersfield’s players had to fish for food.

As for a toilet: “It was an island so you had to find a tree.”

Wagner added: “When you are in the wild for four days without electricity, without mobile phones, without internet, even without food really, you have to speak to each other and come into contact with people.

“We had some food, but not a lot. In the canoe you don’t have so much space for the four days.

“We learned how to fish, to eat. We cooked it. We found wood to make a fire and if you wanted to make a cup of coffee it took 45 minutes because first you had to find wood, then build a fire then go to the lake for water.

“We had to push their buttons and take them out of their comfort zone.

“We are all together in this football business, but we don’t really live in the real world. The young guys, sometimes they don’t know how the real world works.”

How does Wagner think City’s squad of super stars would cope with similar treatment?leroy sane5

“In the end they are humans,” he said. “People in this business can usually have and buy what they like. There’s nothing they cannot have.

“So it’s about coming back to your roots, to feel something natural when you do this and it might be an experience you don’t like to have every day, but afterwards that you felt it. It depends on the group.

“You start to come back and feel humble, how small you are. Everyone has to take out of it what they like to.”

Wagner, who watched Guardiola closely in Germany, can relate to the City manager’s transition to a new league.

One of Guardiola’s chief irks during his short time in England is the constant question of whether he has been surprised by the intensity of the game on these shores.

His irritation is understandable, given his success in Spain with Barcelona and the Bundesliga with Bayern.

The intimation being that his success is somehow tainted by the quality of the competition in those countries.

But Wagner does believe it is harder to succeed in England than in any other league.

“It is not harder because of the intensity in England in my opinion – and to be fair I am a Championship manager and not a Premier League manager – but it is harder because you have such a competitive top five or six,” he said.

“I don’t know any top division in Europe where before the season starts you already have six candidates who can really win the title.

“And this is why it is the biggest competition and why the Premier League is the most attractive League in the world.

“I don’t like to say the best League in the world, but the most attractive League in the world because of this competition between the teams who can win the title.”

His views on what makes English football so intense are fascinating – and also explain Guardiola’s growing frustration with match officials.

The Catalan increasingly points to a need to understand the rules of the English game and what he perceives to be the inconsistency of referees.

Wagner, too, has noticed a key difference.klopp-and-guardiola

“It (English football) is more intense for sure in my opinion,” he said. “But – and I think this is where people think in the wrong direction – it is not more intense because the players are fitter.

“It is because the referees do not whistle so often so there are less interruptions in the game and this is why it is more intense.

“It means you are not able to get organised so well because if the referee whistles there is a short break you can get organised and you have to beat an opponent who is also organised again.

“But if the referee doesn’t whistle as often then there are more situations where you don’t get the chance to organise yourself organised.

“And this is why it is more intense than in Europe in my opinion, especially in the Championship where there are so many games, it is very important to have a big squad or to rotate if possible.”

Should Wagner inspire what he describes as a ‘totally unrealistic’ victory on Saturday, will we see a repeat of the Leeds celebration?

“No I won’t – never again,” he says with a smile. “Hopefully I’ve learned my lessons.”

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