Pep Guardiola admits he would not be able to stop Leroy Sane from leaving should the German winger decide to pursue a move away from Manchester City.
Sane’s future was the subject of much speculation last summer, with Bayern Munich reportedly interested in taking him back to the Bundesliga.
That conjecture ended in August when Sane suffered a serious knee injury in his first appearance of the season – the Community Shield against Liverpool at Wembley.
The 23-year-old, who was the PFA Young Player of the Year in 2018, has only recently returned to training and is not likely to be back in action for a few more weeks yet.
That is likely to rule out any January bids but, with just one more year remaining on Sane’s contract, reports are suggesting he will be in demand again come this summer.
City boss Guardiola, who arrived at the club in the same summer as Sane, in 2016, said: “It’s a question for Leroy, his agents and the club. I’m not involved in that.
“What’s important now is that he has to recover well and after that he knows what we think of him, that we believe in him.
“It’s (only) awkward because I cannot see him on the pitch. He’s a nice person, I know him quite well. I was the guy who pushed the club and convinced him to come here even though he didn’t play regularly for Schalke.
“I have no doubts about him and his quality but what I’ve said many times is each one has his own family, desires, dreams and, above that, I cannot do anything else.
“Three years ago is different to right now. I’m not the same guy I was when I arrived here and the players are the same.
“They have their dreams and after the dreams are accomplished it needs another thing. I don’t know.
“What I want is for him to come back fit. His knee looks really good and after that, honestly, it’s not of my business. It’s not in my hands.”
Sane has spent most of the season on the sidelines with another serious knee injury victim, Aymeric Laporte.
The defender has not played since the 4-0 victory over Brighton on August 31. He returned to training earlier this month and is steadily building towards a comeback but Guardiola says it will not come in Sunday’s Premier League clash at Aston Villa.
Guardiola said: “Not yet. He’s training every day and he finished training good, with good feeling. He feels no pain and that’s good news.
“I don’t know when he’ll be ready to start to play some minutes but it’s closer than last month. I wait to see what the doctor says.”
Laporte has been sorely missed as champions City have fallen 14 points behind leaders Liverpool but Guardiola will not be tempted to rush him back.
He said: “I want all the players back so I have alternatives, for their specific qualities.
“When we need to make movements in behind, Leroy is the best and Aymer for his left foot, playing the left side.
“But we have to respect the process and when both are ready they’ll be in contention. We use them when we believe they must be used.”