Sadio Mané arrived over the summer and quickly went about making his £34M price tag seem something of a bargain in the current transfer market. His play, for some Liverpool fans, were revelatory. It wasn’t for Jürgen Klopp, who had wanted to bring Mané to Germany from Red Bull Salzburg a few years earlier.
Meanwhile, for Mané, playing under Klopp had been something of a goal since he had first learned of that interest while he was playing in Austria and Klopp was managing Borussia Dortmund. It may not have been clear to everyone on the outside, but for player and manager, it was a move both had wanted for some time.
“I was so excited,” said Mané, reflecting on the first time he learned Klopp wanted to sign him. “I couldn’t believe that he wanted to meet and thought I could help his team, who were so good. Things didn’t work out back then and it was frustrating, but that’s life—nothing just comes easy.
“I told myself to carry on working hard, push myself, and something big would come. I went to Southampton, played well, and then Klopp wanted me again. Now I’m lucky enough to be working with one of the best managers in football. It was meant to happen and I am very happy to be learning all the time from him.”
Mané’s impact at Liverpool has been instant, and together with Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho he has helped to make theirs the most dangerous attacking unit in England—all three have scored six goals in all competitions so far and have combined for 18 goals and 16 assists.
As with the other two—and supporting midfielder Adam Lallana, who often joins in with the front three—it hasn’t just been the goals and assists. It’s been the work rate, the intelligent pressing, the movement off the ball. It may have taken a few extra years for Mané to join a Klopp side, but he’s quickly proven to be the perfect fit.
“I knew I was coming to a team that wanted me, to a manager who knew me well, and I was coming to work hard and to help,” he added. “That is all I focused on, not how things would go or what could happen—good or bad. I left my mind open and was ready for anything.
“I’m very happy to be part of a team with big, big talent with everyone working for each other. It makes it easy for a player when you’ve got really good teammates and when everyone wants the same thing.”