Manchester City forward Leroy Sane is the shock omission from Germany’s 23-man squad for the World Cup, announced by coach Joachim Low at a news conference on Monday.
Sane, the Premier League Young Player of the Year, was expected to made the final squad but was left out. While Low initially did not explain his decision, he later told reporters that Leverkusen forward Julian Brandt edged the winger.
“We have good players on the wing in Thomas Muller and Marco Reus. Julian Draxler played a good Confed Cup, and made progress there,” Low said. “It was a tight race between Leroy Sane and Julian Brandt. Both have big qualities, both are good in the one-on-one duels.
“Julian Brandt was at the Confed Cup, had some strong games there, and put in good shifts in the training camp too. Leroy Sane is a huge talent, no doubt, and he will be back with the team in September.”
Sane has so far won 12 caps for Germany, but he has yet to find the back of the net for his national team. He has also only set up one goal. And Low said: “Maybe he has not fully arrived in the national team games. Maybe that tipped the balance.
“He did a good job against Austria, tried to work in defence, went into the transition play. No blame here. And his behaviour off the pitch was good as well.”
Hertha Berlin left-back Marvin Plattenhardt made the cut, despite being one of the candidates to be dropped by Low, but the Germany coach explained: “We had to make a call between the two [Brandt and Sane], because we must have a balanced squad. We could not drop one more defender to have an additional player in attack.”
Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is included after making his long-awaited comeback from injury in Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Austria, his first game since September having been ruled out for eight months with Bayern Munich due to metatarsal injuries.
The Germany captain is now set to lead out the holders in their first match against Mexico in Moscow on June 17. Before the game against Austria, he last featured for the national team in a 2-0 defeat of Northern Ireland on Oct. 11, 2016.
“There are better days in the life of a Bundestrainer,” Low told the news conference. “The disappointment [for the players left out] was big, you could expect that.
“It was like not being allowed onto the plane at the check-in for Moscow. It wasn’t an easy decision for us at all. We looked at everything again. Looked at the data, looked at the big picture. We wanted to be prepared for all eventualities during the tournament.
“It was a photo finish in the end. I first of all want to thank those players for their great contribution over the past two weeks. They fought for their place.”
Bayer Leverkusen keeper Bernd Leno has already left the training camp while Barcelona keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Paris-Saint Germain’s Kevin Trapp will travel to Russia as backups for Neuer.
“It was a very long, a very difficult time for me,” Neuer said. “But also sometimes a nice time. I remained positive throughout that period, always had my sight set on my big goal. I knew that I could make it and I would make it.
“I am convinced that I will cope with every test. And play as many games as possible. I never lost my trust. Ter Stegen played a very good season at Barcelona, and he is an important part of our team.”
Low added: “It was good we played the Austria match despite the rain. Neuer was able to show he’s already at a very good level.