By Spy Uganda
Sadio Mané’s transfer from Liverpool to Bayern Munich was confirmed on Friday. It will see the winger move from the English Premier League to the German Bundesliga for a fee of up to $41 million.
The 30-year-old scored 120 goals in 269 appearances for Liverpool and leaves as one of the greatest players in the club’s illustrious history.
There was a time, not so long ago when Liverpool would lose its best players in far from ideal circumstances, at least in terms of the timing. As Mané departs for Munich, that’s no longer the case.
One of Liverpool’s best players of the not-too-distant pre-Jürgen Klopp era, Luis Suarez, left for Barcelona having been the Fenway Sports Group (FSG) owned club’s top scorer for three seasons between 2012 and 2014
Liverpool received $110 million for the Uruguayan striker. It was the start of the club developing potential world-class players into bona fide world-class players, and getting a big reward for doing so.
In that case, the return came in the form of a big transfer fee, but in Mané’s case it came in the form of a Champions League title, a Club World Cup, a Premier League title (the club’s first in 30 years, no less), an EFL Cup, an FA Cup, and a part in one of the best sides Liverpool fans have seen in the club’s long history.
Between Suarez and Mané there was Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian caught the end of the Suarez era and the beginning of the Mané and Mohamed Salah era, playing with all three at Liverpool before being sold to Barcelona for $170 million.
It was a huge fee that funded many of the best players in Liverpool’s current squad, including Virgil van Dijk and Alisson, but Mané was already there. The Senegalese was one of the first arrivals to this legendary squad, and he leaves with such legendary status as an individual.
In the grand scheme of things, a footballer’s peak is relatively short. As all of these players inevitably depart, and Klopp attempts to build his third version of this great team, how good, and important, these players were may become even more apparent.
Mané departs towards the end of his peak as a Liverpool player. Though there was talk of his form dropping off at the start of the most recent season, by the end of it he had arguably been Liverpool’s best player.
He had also gained further international status thanks to his exploits with Senegal, winning the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in the West African nation’s history, and defeating Salah’s Egypt in a playoff to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.
With a year left on his Liverpool contract, meaning he would be available for foreign clubs to sign on a pre-contract for no transfer fee come January 2023, he would still have been good enough to give Liverpool a few more years of service. But the club decided to refresh their front line while also taking a fee for Mané and giving him the chance to continue at the highest level on what’s likely to be an improved wage. Everyone wins, especially, they hope, Bayern.
Mané is the first of Klopp’s Liverpool legends to leave, with all due respect to Georginio Wijnaldum and Divock Origi, the latter of whom left as a legend of a different sort—a cult hero.
Those two players could be upgraded upon on leaving the club, but that’s not the case with Mané. Liverpool can, though, look to maintain its current level, making the usual savvy moves in the market and adding new qualities to the team while also attempting to replace old ones.
It’s something they are trying to do with Darwin Núñez, who comes in as somewhat of a replacement for both Origi and Mané, with January 2022 signing Luis Diaz offering verve from the flanks as Mané once did.
During his time at Anfield, Mané developed into one of the best players in the world and one of the best African footballers to grace the European leagues.
His ability to propel the Liverpool to titles as part of one of its best-ever teams means he leaves as one of its best-ever players. And that’s some achievement at such a storied club.