Pep Guardiola has told Manchester City star Leroy Sane he has a long way to go before he can be considered as great a player as Ryan Giggs.
Sane has been outstanding this season for a City side chasing Premier League leaders Liverpool, having recovered from the disappointment of missing out on Germany’s World Cup squad last year.
The 23-year-old winger’s total of 12 assists in all competitions for City this season is only one fewer than Lionel Messi has managed for Barcelona, while he has also scored 10 times for his club.
Sane, last season’s PFA Young Player of the Year, has invited comparisons with Manchester United legend Giggs because of his pace and skill when attacking down the left wing, a similarity that Guardiola has acknowledged in the past.
However, the City manager suggested that Sane will need to maintain his consistency before he can match Giggs, who had a 23-year first-team career with United before retiring in 2014.
“I think he’s becoming much more consistent but still he’s not Ryan Giggs,” Guardiola said.
“I don’t remember if Ryan Giggs was like Leroy when he was 21, 22 years old. I don’t know. That would be the comparison, you know?”
Giggs, now the Wales manager, won two Champions League and 13 Premier League titles as a United player.
He played in a further two Champions League finals, losing to Guardiola’s Barcelona in 2009 and 2011.
“I remember when Ryan Giggs played in the Champions League finals against us, that was after many seasons of games in the Premier League. But in the early stages, maybe it was quite similar,” he said.
“But I judge Leroy against the real Ryan Giggs from the later stages. And of course still, he’s not like him.”
Guardiola, meanwhile, has declared himself unconcerned by the possibility that City’s Premier League title chances could be damaged by both fixture congestion and Liverpool’s consistency.
City remain in pursuit of four trophies – the Champions League, Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup – with the possibility that a fifth competition could disrupt his plans to rest senior players.
The club’s Under-23 side are in the quarter-finals of the Checkatrade Trophy, a competition for professional teams in League One and League Two, plus invited academy teams run by Premier League and Championship clubs.
City’s academy side will visit Sunderland on January 22, the night before the senior team play the second leg of their League Cup semi-final against third tier Burton.
Having watched his side defeat Burton 9-0 in the first leg, Guardiola had hoped to rest senior players and field some of his academy products in that match, but the proximity of the Checkatrade Trophy game now makes that far more difficult to do.
Yet even so, Guardiola is happy with the idea of playing lots of matches if it brings plenty of trophies, and is not worried that Premier League leaders Liverpool might benefit from a lighter schedule.
“Of course, if they are fresh mentally and in the legs over the latter stages of the season, it is much better, but really I don’t know if it’s an advantage,” he said.
“Maybe if they play every three days, everybody is in a rhythm, everybody is focused. Sometimes when we have one week or 10 days off, that’s wrong for the rhythm.
“If you win games and go through to the quarter-finals and semi-finals of competitions, that’s a huge excitement to be focused and for everybody to be involved in.
“So when I go out of a cup, it’s because the other team are better. We don’t go out to drop any competition.”