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Sadio Mane created a revolution at Liverpool

Mane was a force and will create a huge challenge for Klopp to replace. He is also only the third African player to score more than 100 PL goals, while also winning domestic cups and ensuring his own country and village thrive
Thu, Jun 23, 2022

Sadio Mane and Jurgen Klopp. PHOTO: Klopp Twitter

A few days after suffering the blow of a Champions League final defeat, Liverpool suffered another one with the news that Sadio Mane wanted a move away. On 22 June he was officially unveiled as a Bayern Munich player. While no one at Liverpool will begrudge him of this, he leaves the team with massive shoes to fill.

His record of 120 goals and 38 assists in 269 games for Liverpool will be hard to match. A belter of a debut goal against Arsenal in 2016 would prove just how important he would go on to be for Klopp and Liverpool. Running down the right wing at full pace and beating two defenders before cutting inside and curling a stunner into the top corner.

A year later Salah would arrive from Roma and Mane would demonstrate his versatility by moving out to the left side of the attack. Forming an iconic front three alongside Salah and Roberto Firmino, Mane pressed from the front. It was Mane who was the start of the revolution at Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp, and he has proved all his doubters wrong.

Last season, he again demonstrated this by converting to a central striker after the arrival of Luis Diaz from Porto.

It wasn’t only his attacking threat that was crucial, his pressing from the front meant that Liverpool often won the ball back high up the pitch and were able to score quickly after getting the ball back. He also tracked back, helping the defenders when the opposition were attacking.

Mane was instrumental in Liverpool’s success in the Champions League in 2019 and Premier League win in 2020. Among Sadio Mane’s list of achievements is the Golden Boot award for top score of the 2018/19 season. An award that he shared with his teammate Salah after scoring 22 goals each. He is also only the third African player to score more than 100 goals in the Premier League, with only Didier Drogba and Salah ahead of him.

His impact in the Premier League and legacy at Liverpool is undeniable. After a victory over Aston Villa earlier this year, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson made it clear how valuable he is to the team. “Sadio Mane’s performances have always been incredible. The amount of work he does for the team off the ball, defending at the end and he has the quality in and around the box. It was an incredible finish and he gets us the three points.”

Klopp shared similar sentiments. “He’s a machine. Massive player. His physicality is brutal, this mix of technique, desire and physicality in this moment when everybody has a few yards in the legs… you can see it with him to be honest. Top goal, just fantastic, a world-class player.”

The Senegalese superstar leaves having played a crucial role in Liverpool winning a domestic cup double this season. He also helped his country to win the African Cup of Nations and also led them to qualify for the World Cup later this year, beating Egypt. He leaves Liverpool as a bona fide legend.

With contract negotiations also stalling on Salah’s new contract. This could be the beginning of the end for Liverpool’s famed front three and Klopp will have some rebuilding to do. Salah, unlike Mane, has said he would remain at Liverpool next season though and see out the remaining year of his contract. Liverpool have softened the blow of Mane’s departure by bringing in Darwin Nunez from Benfica. But losing a club legend will still be a big blow.

More than anything else Mane is just a genuinely good human being. Someone who has stayed humble and always puts the team first before individual glory. A supreme athlete who rarely misses a game.

He is an amazing person off the pitch too. Coming from the remote village of Bambali in Senegal, Mane is the sole funder of a new hospital and school in his home village, wanting to give hope to people. “I remember my sister was also born at home because there is no hospital in our village. It was a really, really sad situation for everyone. I wanted to build one to give people hope,” he said in the documentary Made in Senegal. His contribution to health and education has been immense, he also reportedly donated £40,000 to the government to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic.

As a South African Liverpool fan, it has been a joy to watch him play in this team. We now have Naby Keita, Joel Matip and Salah representing Africa at Liverpool.

His departure from Liverpool has been as classy as possible with minimal bitterness or drama. In a goodbye message to Liverpool fans Mane said: “Playing at Anfield always gives you so much power, because of the fans. So, for sure I’m going to miss you guys. Because for me, I’m going to be Liverpool’s number one fan - after the supporters.”

Mane has represented the club and the continent so well. It will be a sad day when he leaves the club but Liverpool fans will wish him nothing but the best for the future. Mane will go down as one of my favourite players to ever put on the famous red Liverpool shirt.