When the books and documentaries about Liverpool’s dynasty of the late 2010s and early 2020s are eventually released, a lot of the attention will go towards Klopp, Salah and van Dijk. Rightfully so for the most part, as those three played a massive role in Liverpool’s dominance. However, lost in those names will be the one player who gelled everything together, Sadio Mané.

With Mané’s impending transfer to Bayern on the horizon, fans of the Prem will hang on to their memories of the mercurial Senegalese talent. A relatively unknown player when he arrived at Liverpool now leaves as a club great.

Mané’s rise from the Austrian top flight to Champions League finals is really a remarkable tale that isn’t widely told. He became the perfect balance to Salah and created one of the best duos that the Prem had seen in a while. And while he may have only won one league title and Champions League, he will forever be tied with Liverpool’s resurgence to greatness.

Photo: Sadio Mane

It would have always been difficult for Liverpool to replace Mané as he was such an integral part of every aspect of the side’s play. While Luis Díaz and Darwin Núñez are both excellent players, they bring different styles of play than Mané. On the other side, Bayern is getting a player that will help replace Lewandowski and sets the club up for great success. 

Liverpool, and Prem, fans will likely never forget the Senegalese forward tearing apart defenses with ease. Mané’s legacy is secured and he now belongs amongst the greatest forwards of the Prem in the past decade.

When he arrived at Liverpool in 2016, Mané was a relatively unknown player who had some interesting seasons with Southampton but nothing spectacular. Six years later, he leaves the club a legend, helping them secure their first Premier League title. 

Mané’s soccer journey begins in his native Senegal where the youngster developed his game at Génération Foot, a club dedicated to producing the best African talents. While he was a shy player, his technical abilities clearly showed that he had the potential to be a top talent. In 2011,  Europe came calling in the form of Metz where he would spend one season.  

As controversial as the Red Bull rebrandings have been, it’s hard to deny that Red Bull Salzburg has been a great producer of talent with Erling Haaland as their prime example and Mané is up there too. At Salzburg, Mané became an elite scorer whose prowess drew the eye of Klopp while he was still at Dortmund. With over 40 goals scored and an Austrian title under his belt, Mané had proven to be an excellent talent that could lead any offense. 

After three and a half seasons in Austria, England came calling in the form of Southampton where he would spend two seasons. Like the majority of Southampton’s seasons since they returned to the Prem, they were unremarkable with Mané, but the player scored in bunches.

Photo: Getty

Liverpool’s “feeder club” sold Mané to Liverpool for the largest fee for an African player at the time and the rest is history. While he did have some excellent first few seasons with the side as they began their resurgence, it was in the 2018/19 season where he broke out. A 26 goal season and Champions League medal cemented him as one of the world’s best forwards. 

By the end of his tenure in England, Mané had scored over 100 goals and won numerous titles with his partnership with Salah producing legendary moments. Both a play finisher and creator, he could exchange roles with Salah at any time, allowing for the offense to be truly fluid. This forced opponents into twists as it was an impossible task to keep up with both forwards. 

Mané’s legacy in the Prem will be one of a player that came out of obscurity to lead his club back to relevancy, becoming a hero to many across the globe along the way. Fans will be left wishing that Mané could have stayed in the Prem, tearing apart defenses and winning titles.

With a club icon leaving this summer, Liverpool has conducted some great deals to reduce the impact of Mané’s departure. In Bavaria, Mané will have to replace modern great Lewandowski, as Bayern retools for the future.

Díaz and Núñez are excellent pieces of business that should help Liverpool put on a fight for both English and European dominance. Out of the two players, Díaz seems the more appropriate Mané replacement, as he is a winger that can score bangers. In addition, by the end of this past season, he had already shown that he deserved to be an everyday starter for any top side.

Núñez, on the other hand, seems to be a replacement for Firmino, as he is a more traditional striker than winger. He will greatly help carry the offensive load with Salah just as Mané did, but he is much more of a play finisher than Mané was. In summation, Núñez will be the striker that Liverpool hasn’t had since Luis Suárez rather than a mercurial winger like Mané. 

Now for Mané, as he’s joining a Bayern side that is both trying to continue its dominance and retool for another run at the Champions League. To ask one player to replace the output of Lewandowski would be tremendously unfair, but the hope for Bayern fans is that Mané could attempt to replicate it. Bayern is spoiled with talent so he will have help at every level and this could unlock a version of Mané that Liverpool never really saw, as he will be the star of this Bayern side.

Photo: Lukasz Laskowski/Getty Images

In a way, this feels like the natural end for both sides, as Liverpool feels the need to rebuild around Salah to win another Champions League and Mané will get the chance to be the star he is. Both Liverpool and Bayern will like their chances to win the Champions League, meaning that it is written in the stars that the two sides will face each other in the knockouts. The two parties will also get a chance to write their own legacies and create their own mythos.

Both parties end their relationships in better places than when they started with Liverpool back amongst Europe’s elites and Mané a genuine star of the game. Now, as their time together dwindles down, all they will have left are memories.

When Mané arrived in Liverpool in the summer of 2016, most thought that he would be a good player, but no one could have expected him to become a club icon. In his six years, the Senegalese talent has become a serial winner and overall incredible talent who helped bring Liverpool back to the top. A good player became a great and a fallen giant became a force of domination in this six year long relationship.


Featured image: Getty Images

Comments are closed.

Check Also

A Project In Collapse

Almost ten years ago, Southampton became the darling of every Premier League neutral. A fu…