The omission of Leroy Sane came as a major surprise when Joachim Low announced his final Germany squad for the World Cup on Monday.
The Manchester City winger was one of four names to be cut from the provisional group, along with Bernd Leno, Jonathan Tah and Nils Petersen.
Low explained it was a “very close decision” between Sane and Bayer Leverkusen’s Julian Brant, who ultimately got the nod, adding that Sane, “has not arrived in international matches yet”.
The question of poor form on the part of the 22-year-old seems at odds with his performances in the Premier League, with Sane having won the PFA Young Player of the Year award for 2017-18 due to his form for champions Manchester City.
So, is Low’s decision justified? With the help of Opta, we crunch the numbers to find out…
SANE SUPREME IN LEAGUE FORM
If you look simply at the data from the 2017-18 season, Brandt’s inclusion over Sane just seems downright peculiar.
The City man registered 10 goals and 15 assists in 32 league matches, meaning he was involved in more than twice as many goals as Brandt, who managed nine goals and three assists in two games more.
Not only did Sane score one more and assist five times as many as Brandt, his average of one goal involvement per 97 minutes is also far better than the Bayer Leverkusen man on 195 minutes.
In fact, Sane directly contributed to more goals than any other German player in Europe’s top-five leagues in the past season. The nearest to his tally of 25 are Mark Uth and Thomas Muller (22), Timo Werner (20) and Niclas Fullkrug (17).
FOR GERMANY, BRANDT HAS LEFT A MARK
He might have shone at club level, but Low’s view that Sane has yet to make a real impact on the international stage is not without merit.
In his 12 appearances for Germany, six of which have come as a starter, he has managed only one assist and is yet to score a goal. He has also created little more than one chance per 90 minutes on average.
By contrast, Brandt has a slight edge in chances created, has two assists and one solitary strike to his name in his seven starts (15 appearances overall) for the national team.
Given Sane has played in six of Germany’s last seven games, it is also fair to say he has been given enough chances to stake a claim.
LOW BLOW COMES FROM LACK OF VERSATILITY
There is also an argument that Sane suffers from being unable to play as many different roles as Brandt.
The Leverkusen star has played on either flank in attack – he started on the right in the 2-1 loss to Austria on Saturday – and even filled in as a wing-back for his national team.
Speaking on Monday, Low underlined the importance of multi-functional players in a squad for a major tournament. For instance, his final 23 contains only two out-and-out strikers: Mario Gomez and Timo Werner.
The wide role Sane has in Pep Guardiola’s City is also not quite the same as the one he is given for Germany, with Low favouring wingers who have more variety in their play and who are less likely to stay close to the touchline.