After a pair of impressive seasons with RB Salzburg that set Sadio Mané out as being the most talented young player in Austria, Jürgen Klopp, then manager of Borussia Dortmund, came calling. He was interested in the young attacker and thought he saw a future for him in the Bundesliga. In the end, a move never happened.
Klopp has since admitted he made a mistake not pushing harder to sign Mané, who was also being scouted by Liverpool at the time and, when the two bigger clubs passed on him, the Senegalese star ended up moving to Southampton. For Mané, though, what came afterwards was never been about trying to prove anyone wrong.
“I remember everything about it,” said Mané. “It was a meeting to talk about football and how he wanted to play and how he wanted me to be part of his team. I think it’s part of football, that these things can happen. After that I never stopped working like I did before. I gave my best all the time and finally, we work together.”
From being the best young player in Austria, Mané headed to Southampton and quickly established himself as one of the best young talents in England. Then it all lined up. Liverpool had been interested in him before but not everyone at the club had been convinced he was ready. It had been the same for Klopp at Dortmund.
Now, though, Klopp was at Liverpool and Mané had proven he could cope with the demands of one of Europe’s top leagues. At the second time of asking, for Mané and Klopp and Liverpool, all were determined to get a deal done. The results have been more than anyone could have hoped for, and Mané says it was worth waiting for.
“We didn’t speak about what happened because we know it’s part of football and it can happen,” he added. “It wasn’t his fault, or my fault, or the clubs’ fault. When he called me to come here, it was the right time, the right coach, and the right time to come to Liverpool. Now I’m here I’m very happy to be part of this amazing club.”