CONFIDENT: Leroy Sane
MANCHESTER CITY will look to become the first team to retain the Premier League title in more than a decade says Leroy Sane.
Fresh from last season’s record points and goal haul, Sane accepts that winning back to back Premier League titles will be a tough ask, but under Pep Guardiola, he and City are improving, and determined to continue their extraordinary level.
“Last season was fantastic! But I always look to improve every season and so do the team.It is an important year for both me and the club as retaining the title will be difficult.
“The other teams around us have strengthened in all areas of the pitch and that will make the challenge even greater this time. We will have to be at our best to make sure we reach the same levels.
“I think last year was my best season so far. Pep is an incredible manager both on and off the pitch and has helped me take my game to another level.
“He has worked with me in many areas of the pitch and just wants to make things simple for his players. He gives us the freedom to express ourselves on the pitch and that makes us more positive on the ball,” said the German who was controversially left out his country’s 2018 World Cup squad.
The rest will have done Sane no harm, and Sane is relishing the upcoming Premier League challenge where all to top sides have strengthened.
“The Premier League is always difficult and the teams are very strong. In most leagues there are one or two teams who are better than the others, but in England there are five or six who could reasonably win the title.
“Last year was an amazing year for City, but the other teams have all strengthened and they will be confident going into the new season. I feel that we have the players and the quality to retain the title this year though.”
City begin their title defence away at the Emirates, where Arsenal begin the post Arsene Wenger era under Spanish coach Unai Emery. Sane acknowledges that the teams fighting for their title will be many with one side in particular meriting attention.
“Liverpool are a very good team who play at high tempo and like to keep possession – they are definitely a side to look out for this season. But there isn’t just one team. United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Tottenham will also be strong in the new season.
“They have all made signings that will add to the competition and in Unai Emery and Maurizio Sarri there are two new fantastic managers who have been successful in other leagues – who will bring their ideas to the Premier League.
“The Premier League is tough no matter who you are playing. One week you can beat one of your title rivals and the next you can lose to a team fighting against relegation.
Focussing on Sunday’s opener in north London, Sane has warned that City will be confident of getting a result.
“I think Arsenal will be a very tough team to beat at the start of the season, especially at the Emirates and wit their new manager.
“Unai Emery has achieved so much already in Spain and France and he will want to start well in England. The club have also made some great signings, but I believe that we have the quality to beat Arsenal and make a strong start to the season which is our aim.”
City will be strengthened by the £60m capture of Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City, who Sane describes as “ a fantastic player who has already won the Premier League.”
And the 22 year old German who netted 14 goals and had 19 assists last season concludes with a warning shot across the bows of their title rivals.
“No team has retained the title in more than a decade, but we are confident we can meet that challenge.”