As pessimistic as you are, you can’t deny that Bayern Munich bought a blockbuster this summer. With Liverpool winger Sadio Mane, the club have acquired a world-class striker who has consistently performed at the highest level for years. After winning the Premier League, Champions League and the Africa Cup of Nations, Sadio Mane arrives in Munich with possibly the strongest resume of all our recent signings.
Now, as Bayern fans, most of us don’t follow LFC regularly, so we’re not exactly qualified to talk about what this transfer brings to the table. Lucky Noel Chomyn from Offside from Liverpool was there to answer some questions for us. Here’s what he had to say…
Jurgen Klopp apparently used Sadio Mane as a False-9 for most of last season. Can you explain how he functioned in that role?
Mane started last season on the left wing, where he spent most of his six seasons at Liverpool, but after the Africa Cup of Nations with the arrival of Luis Diaz, Roberto Firmino injured and Diogo Jota’s link-up game not quite up to par. Mane almost accidentally ended up with the striker. At least that’s how it felt, a shrug and a gamble from Jürgen Klopp to try something different. And it worked.
Mane has always been an underrated playmaker and even before moving to center he had the best reach of Liverpool’s forwards. There are plenty of examples of him switching with his left back, sinking deep on his right foot and switching games or sending balls through the channels, not like Thiago. It also has great first touch and close control.
In the final few months of his final season at Anfield, Mane also showed that he could drop into the busy mid-field areas and connect the game almost as well as Firmino has in the past, which was a pleasant surprise and a lot of people thought he had a future in the position with us.
Of course, that turned out not to be the case and instead we hired a player who is a bit more like, well, Lewandowski in Darwin Núñez.
I have no idea which direction Bayern might go tactically, but while few would have previously picked him as a false nine to play, in retrospect it seems clear that the years of working with Firmino in matches and training has led Mane to internalize how he play that role at a high level.
Why did Liverpool not renew Sadio Mane’s contract? Was it his wage demands, his age or something else?
It is impossible to answer authoritatively from the outside.
What is known is that every other major Liverpool player has been re-signed or negotiated in the last two years, but in that time we have never heard anything about Mane. I suspect if there had been a desire to deal on the part of the player, it wouldn’t have been the case.
Can you give us an idea of Mane’s form and trajectory over the years?
Up until the Africa Cup of Nations, the story was that Mane’s form had declined somewhat in recent seasons, perhaps due to a loss of the explosive first step seen in every highlight role from his first few seasons with the club.
Whether that story was correct or the result of opponents getting deeper and deeper and leaving Liverpool less room to argue, I’ll leave it up to others to discuss it, but it existed.
What does Sadio Mane’s fitness record usually look like? Has he had any major problems in the past?
He does not get hurt and does not stop working. Until that post-AFCoN move to center there was certainly talk of perceived waning effectiveness on the left wing, but I’m not sure I can really remember him missing a game due to injury.
What do you think of the reported transfer fee? Are Liverpool fans happy? What does this departure mean for LFC?
The fee is fine for a 30-year-old entering the last year of his contract and looking to leave, although what Lewandowski – a player who would choose Mane most in recent seasons, but someone who is also three years older – will go for will add color to it. As for how most fans feel there is certainly a sense of sadness but also an awareness that everything comes to an end in football and we’ll probably be a year or two past when one of the famous front three would have been sold as it hadn’t happened for Covid affecting football finances.
It is sad to see one of the club’s greatest strikers ever leave. can’t afford. A refresh has been on the cards for a while, and adding Núñez and Diaz to the mix as Mané departs is just good squad building, even if it’s emotionally off-putting to see Sadio leave.
Huge thanks to Noel for taking the time to do this QandA with us! So, what about? Do you like what you see, or are you worried about the transfer? Leave your comment below!