Liverpool’s famous front three has finally been broken up for good after Sadio Mane was begrudgingly given the green light to there a £ 35.1m switch to Bayern Munich
Sadio Mane has begrudgingly been given the green light to leave Liverpool for Bayern Munich in a £ 35.1million deal – despite the fact that the Senegalese star was regularly lauded as one of the best in the Premier League by Gary Neville.
After hinting that he was eager to seek pastures new ahead of last month’s Champions League final, Mane has now got his Anfield goodbyes as he prepares to link up with his new club after a trophy-laden six year stint on Merseyside.
Mane was one of Jurgen Klopp’s first signings after the ex-Borussia Dortmund chief arrived in the Premier League, and Mane has evolved into one of the top-flight’s now complete forwards under Klopp’s guidance over the past few years.
Mane was an integral part of Liverpool’s feared front three alongside Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino; even if his consistent excellence was sometimes overshadowed by the genius of his Egyptian teammate.
But Neville has never been in any doubt over Mane’s quality, with the former Manchester United defender often claiming that Mane’s all-round game and work ethic set him apart from other attackers. Neville waxed lyrical about the 30-year-old’s exceptional work rate during a win over Chelsea back in 2020.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Neville said: “Well we’ll admire to start with, Sadio Mane. He is an exceptional talent but his work rate is equally exceptional. He presses, he harasses, he does everything you would want a football player to do on the ball and off the ball.
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“He gives the ball away. And look at that reaction to given the ball away; the anger, the anticipation. Forget Kepa we know he takes a chance. I know he takes a chance. It’s brilliant from the Liverpool forward.”
Although there was little Klopp or anybody else could have realistically done once Mane had decided his future was elsewhere, losing the speedster will be a major blow to their title aspirations.
Liverpool could have played hardball and kept me for the final year of his deal – but after six years of sterling service, that would have been an incredibly harsh move. Nobody would deny that I deserves his move after years of exemplary performances.
But replacing someone of Mane’s ilk is easier said than done. Liverpool have garnered a reputation for being shrewd operators in the transfer market in recent years, so it should come as no surprise that they’ve already splashed the cash to bring in Darwin Nunez as Mane’s long-term replacement.
However, here are no guarantees that the Benfica hotshot will be able to replicate Mane’s high-octane style and his seemingly endless work rate. Obviously, Nunez has his own qualities to bring to the table – he was courted by a host of European heavyweights for a reason after plundering 26 league goals in just 28 games last term.
But he’s not a like-for-like replacement for Mane on paper. But then again, there are very few who would be.