Maybe if we'd picked him for the Champions league squad he may have stayed.
Can't fault him for going and our own fault for letting him go.
The beginning of the end IMO. Particularly as the salt in the wound was that it was Degen who got the final place. Yes, Philip fucking Degen.
Recall reading (possibly Gedo) that the exclusion was the final straw and that Sami burst (sure he would have knocked) into Rafa's office demanding (asking politely) what the fuck was going on (I'm certain he said 'fuck' though) and where he stood. Given this is a player who was a shining example of class and humility throughout his career (Gerrard being given the captaincy for example), it was a crazy decision to leave him out.
As for his leaving, don't know where people get this 'demand' for first team football from - he hadn't demanded it in the previous 2 seasons or so so why now? Think it's far more likely he was seeking more than a 1 year PAYP extension (with some vague mumblings about coaching in the future) under a manager that clearly thought it was time to move him on. Ignoring the fact that Sami was immense at the start of last season and came in fresh as a daisy and gave a masterclass in the United game. Ignoring the fact that said manager had another similarly old and slow CB as a starter who offered much less apart from berating teammates and being, you know, a Scouser, but was untouchable. Still is apparently.
And so, with a fat 2-year contract from Leverkusen on the table and a verbal commitment that they felt the big Finn had a lot to give still, which echoed with his own thoughts, then who could blame him. But let's not kid ourselves that it was anything other than a monumental mistake from Rafa, both in terms of judgment and man-management. Whilst I'm having a dig at Rafa re. Sami, I'll also mention I thought giving him a cursory few mins against Spurs was a bit fucking disrespectful. The game was won, should have given him the opportunity for every header, every block to be cheered from the rafters. Not one for sentiment is Rafa though, although Fowler the Sequel was pretty bizarre to explain otherwise.
I said it at the time before our shambles this season, but our loss (and it was a captain's loss regardless of who wears the armband at present) was Leverkusen's gain. Best of luck to him. I am so incredibly happy for him that he's doing well, even if it is painful to see him going before his time.