Pep Guardiola Tells Referees to 'Protect the Artists' After Leroy Sane Injury

Pep Guardiola is calling on referees to help "protect" players after Leroy Sane was injured in a horror challenge during Manchester City's fourth-round FA Cup win on Sunday (28 January).

Sane was scythed down by Cardiff City's Joe Bennett moments before half-time in City's 2-0 victory, with early assessments expecting the Germany forward to be sidelined for around a month.

Guardiola, whose team is still competing on four fronts, insisted his call to action was not just for his players—but the league as a whole.

"For football in general, players are the artists. The only thing they [referees] can do is protect them," Guardiola said.

"Referees have to protect—not just mine, all players. Sane will be out for a while. Maybe two or three weeks, or a month, we will see tomorrow. It's his ankle.

"I know my players, because it's not just one, there was many. They decided to play in that way. There is one man who has to decide what is correct and what is incorrect. If he doesn't, anything can happen."

Leroy Sane
Leroy Sane at Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom, January 28. Sane will be out for up to a month after being injured against Cardiff City. Harry Trump/Getty

Bennett issued an apology to Sane via Twitter on Sunday night, insisting he never intended to injure the 19-year-old Germany international.

"Just want to apologise to Leroy Sane for my tackle today," he wrote. "I tried to stop the counter-attack and completely mistimed my attempt.

"I didn't mean to catch him like I did. I hope it's nothing serious and he recovers quickly."

City look to be without Sane for the visit of West Brom to the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, as well as games in February against Burnley, Leicester, FC Basel in the Champions League and Arsenal in the League Cup final.

Guardiola's team have retained their dominant form, despite losing a first game of the season to Liverpool earlier this month and deing without Gabriel Jesus. The Brazilian has not featured for City this calendar year after getting injured against Crystal Palace on December 31.

City, meanwhile, look set to make a record-signing this week as Aymeric Laporte edges closer to a £57m move from Athletic Bilbao. The 23-year-old center-back is highly regarded in La Liga but is yet to make an international debut for France.

City's current transfer record stands at £55m, the amount they paid Wolfsburg for Kevin de Bruyne in 2015. The deal would take Guardiola's spending on defenders to almost £200m in 18 months.

Pep Guardiola
Pep Guardiola at the Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, January 28. Guardiola has called for more protection from referees for players. GEOFF CADDICK/AFP/Getty