Sadio Mane joining Bayern Munich from Liverpool – African talent in Europe
Last week, Bayern Munich completed the signing of Sadio Mane from Liverpool in a £35 million deal.
The move finally recognizes his status as one of the best players in the world with a bumper payday; he is expected to earn in excess of £350,000 per week over the course of the three-year contract he signed with the Bavarian giants.
How will he fit in with his new team and what does the move mean for Liverpool and Bayern Munich?
Who will replace him at Liverpool?
When Liverpool signed Colombian winger, Luis Diaz last January, many fans wondered if that meant Mane was off. Mane eventually moved centrally, allowing the Colombian winger to show off his quality in the left-forward slot.
Mo Salah guarantees at least 35 G+A every season, he is expected to remain for at least another season. Diaz and new signing, Darwin Nunez who scored 26 goals and added 4 assists in 28 Portuguese league apps last season, will be expected to replace their former number 10’s output going forward.
How well that works for Liverpool remains to be seen.
How will he fit in at Bayern?
When Mane made his Liverpool debut against Arsenal in the 2016-17 season, he did so as a right winger and occupied that position for the rest of the season, scoring 13 goals and registering 8 assists over 29 appearances in all competitions.
The following season, Mane was moved to the left flank to accommodate new signing, Mo Salah. The decision proved to be an inspired one as the Egyptian put up a staggering 60 G+A in 52 appearances that season. Despite the position change, Mane acquitted himself well and recorded 29 G+A in 44 appearances across all competitions.
In the just-concluded 2021-22 season, he scored 7 goals in 10 appearances as a central striker.
His defining quality as a player is the ability to fit seamlessly in whatever position his team needs him in. He can play alongside Lewandowski, replace the Pole upfront and form a fluid, interchangeable frontline along with Thomas Muller and Serge Gnabry/Leroy Sane. That will make him an invaluable addition for Bayern Munich.
The PR machine is invariably employed by the three parties involved whenever transfers of this magnitude happen; both clubs and the player’s camp. While it was not surprising to hear Bayern play up the importance of their new signing, it was a surprise to hear media outfits friendly to Liverpool imply that Mane’s departure was due to the player’s greed.
Since Sadio Mane became a professional footballer, a large part of his wages have regularly gone toward helping the needy, especially in his hometown of Bambali. That philanthropy is expected to continue and even increase now that his wages have almost tripled.
We’re inclined to believe that, just like he said, he wanted a new challenge and moved to a club that suited his ambitions and paid him what he deserved.
Expected impact at the world cup
This year has been especially good to Sadio Mane. First, he led his country to continental glory, securing victory with the winning spot kick. Then he repeated the same trick in the World Cup qualifiers to send Senegal to this year’s World Cup at Egypt’s expense.
At club level, he won two trophies with Liverpool last season and was a hair’s breadth away from winning a quadruple.
The Twitter jokes about how Liverpool coddled Salah’s feelings at Mane’s expense might have been exaggerated, but there was still a clear disparity in how both players were treated. Getting his dream move to Bayern and getting a chance to be the main man at his club team will be a breath of fresh air for Mane.
As the best player on Africa’s best team, he will be a pivotal figure heading into Qatar 2020.
With the pressure on Senegal now dissipated, would you really bet against him doing exactly that?
There are several reasons why the biggest clubs in Europe absolutely detest selling their best players.
One reason is that the cost of replacing a truly world-class player is astronomical and it’s almost always easier to just pay the wantaway player their desired wages.
Another reason is the uncertainty of knowing if their replacement could replicate the departing player’s impact or not. In the cutthroat world of professional football, talent often is not enough and even newly-signed stars can find it hard to settle.
Most importantly, the buying club is almost always a rival and the biggest clubs are always loath to strengthen a rival that could directly challenge them for the biggest trophies.
Unfortunately for Liverpool, they will now have to replace Sadio Mane’s considerable impact, hope his replacement can come up with the goods and hope Bayern don’t knock them out of a Champions League campaign anytime soon.