Greek mythology tell us about King Sisyphus, who was punished by the gods for his hubris by being condemned to roll a boulder up a steep hill for perpetuity. FC Barcelona now seem determined to reenact this curious fate in the real world. Having failed spectacularly in their quest to nab Philippe Coutinho away from Liverpool this past summer, Barcelona are now - if reports are to be believed - switching gears and focusing on a different boulder on the same hill, namely Coutinho’s teammate, Sadio Mané.
According to the Mirror, Mané - who was just named the Premier League’s player of the month for August - is attracting at attention, not just from Barcelona, but also from their rivals Real Madrid. The Senegalese forward has been a revelation since his arrival from Southampton, and proving to be as important a player, if not more so, than Coutinho for this Liverpool side, so it’s difficult to see how a clear path for such a transfer, especially given Fenway Sports Group’s intransigence over Barcelona’s recent bids.
Still, a lot of these moves are driven by the player’s personal investment in making a transfer happen, and the topic of Mané’s eventual departure has not been one that’s come up in conversation. On the bright side for Liverpool supporters, there is not much substance in the Mirror’s report to suggest that the interest from the two Spanish giants is real. Coutinho will certainly hope there’s nothing behind the rumor, as it could have gloomy consequences for his own hopes of going to the Camp Nou.
If Barcelona are actually seriously harboring thoughts of pursuing Mané, it would be a fun exercise to theorize as to their actual motives for doing so. Is it aimed at continuing to rile up Liverpool out of sheer pettiness and spite? Confusion over whether they should be going after a Sané or a Mané? Anxiety over the possibility that Ousmane Dembélé will leave for PSG next summer? Only Barcelona know for sure.