Jurgen Klopp may not have wanted to address the transfer rumors in his press conference before the Champions League final, but questions about Sadio Mane’s future, though conflicted, have been answered at length and praise.
Mane was described as “in the shape of his life” before the final, with Klopp adding that he “doesn’t care much” about stories linking him to Bayern Munich. “It is a pleasure to see him at the moment in training and in matches,” the Liverpool coach said.
Klopp already knew at that point that the meeting with Real Madrid was likely to be Mane’s last game for Liverpool. His desire for a new challenge became public within days of the defeat at the Stade de France, and a month later, the move to Bayern Munich was completed.
However, surprisingly, Klopp was lavish in his praise of the 30-year-old until the very last. Liverpool hate losing but there are no hard feelings. Not after all he did for them.
Mane’s future was, until the final weeks of the season, a sideshow for Salah’s future – although he was also entering the final year of his contract at Anfield.
It’s a familiar dynamic. Although Mane is cherished by those associated with Liverpool, he receives only a fraction of the attention and praise that his teammate receives. It’s been like that ever since Al-Masry came, a year after he came, in 2017.
However, he is gone after playing a similarly crucial role in the club’s transformation during Klopp’s tenure, leaving an indelible mark on Liverpool and the Premier League as a whole.
His arrival from Southampton in 2016 heralded the start of the glorious chapter that followed. Mane was, after all, Klopp’s first major signature. Quick, fiercely aggressive and ruthlessly efficient, he came to embody a Klopp-led Liverpool perhaps better than anyone else.
Together with Salah, he helped redefine the expectations of attackers on a large scale, reaching double figures for goals in six consecutive seasons and scoring at least 20 out of four of them. His 120 goals total puts him 14th in Liverpool’s all-time scoring charts.
The numbers reinforce his legacy with Liverpool while the consistency of his production, combined with the pivotal role he played in the club’s first title win in 30 years in 2020, ensure the greatness of the Premier League as well.
Only three players have scored more Premier League goals than Mane during his time at Liverpool alone OneHarry Kane of Tottenham scored more goals, which were decisive.
In fact, one of Mane’s greatest strengths, which separates him from his peers, is his ability to deliver in crucial moments, when pressure is at its greatest and dangers are at their height.
He’s the clutch player for Liverpool, to use a common term in American sports, and the numbers prove it. According to Opta, Jurgen Klopp’s side have won their overall goals with 63 points in the Premier League, averaging more than 10 points per season.
He has been similarly decisive in cup competitions, the most recent example being in last season’s FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City at Wembley, when his double secured Liverpool’s place in the final they would go on to win.
In the Champions League, preliminary statistics show that Salah outperformed him by 33 goals against 24 during his time at Liverpool, but it is worth noting that Mane’s total includes 15 goals in the knockout stages – by 63 percent – compared to 11 goals for Salah – or 33 in cent.
In fact, since 2016, only Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski have scored more goals in the Champions League knockout stages. It’s another statistic that confirms Mane’s appetite for big occasions.
His contribution to Liverpool’s success under Klopp is all the more impressive given the adjustments he’s had to make along the way, moving from right to left to accommodate Salah in 2017, then moving to center forward to make way for Luis Diaz last season.
Each role came with a different set of tactical requirements, but Mane moved smoothly each time, displaying a level of intelligence that matched his physical and technical attributes.
Klopp’s referee “in every position is world class”.
He added, “He always moves on for someone else, but his performance never goes down.” Sky Sports Critic Jamie Carragher. “It doesn’t seem to matter where Mane plays, you get exactly the same from him. The same cannot be said for the rest of Liverpool’s attack.”
In fact, the same cannot be said for many players.
Mane has not always received the recognition he deserves for his role in Liverpool’s recent successes, but his importance cannot be overstated. When it comes to big moments and big occasions, his passing will leave a void that even Darwin Nunez may find difficult to fill.
Liverpool matches: The Reds start at Fulham
Liverpool kicks off their 2022/23 Premier League campaign with a lunch trip to newly promoted Fulham on Saturday 6 August.
This will be the fourth consecutive season that Liverpool begin a new campaign against the Premier League’s newcomer.
But after facing Crystal Palace, Jurgen Klopp’s side will face Manchester United at Old Trafford on August 20.
September will see away trips to both Everton and Chelsea in September, and Liverpool will also face back-to-back matches against champions Arsenal and Man City on October 8 and 15, respectively.
Liverpool’s last game before the season was paused for the Winter World Cup will be against Southampton at Anfield on 12 November before returning to action at Aston Villa on Boxing Day.
The Reds then host arch-rivals United on March 4, before tough-looking clashes on back-to-back weekends at City (April 1) and against Arsenal at Anfield (April 8), before ending the season in Southampton.
Follow the summer transfer window with Sky Sports
Who will be on the move this summer when the transfer window opens June 10 and closes in 11 p.m. on September 1st?
Stay up-to-date with the latest transfer news and rumors in the dedicated Transfer Center blog at Sky Sports digital platforms. You can also keep up with additional details and analysis on Sky Sports News.