Strong performances for Red Bull Salzburg earned Sadio Mané a move to England with Southampton, where he proved be had what it took to compete in one of Europe’s top leagues and, in turn, earned a move to Liverpool.
And each year, it seems, things have only gotten better for the 26-year-old Senegal star, culminating with his key role in last season’s run to the Champions League final as part of what was quite likely the game’s most exciting attack.
“It’s the most enjoyable season I’ve had,” Mané told Goal this week. “It wasn’t easy, but we tried to do our best. In the beginning, when we started the group stages, nobody expected us to go to the quarter-finals or the semi-finals.
“Last season was the first time I had ever played in the Champions League, and we made great memories which will stay in my mind forever. We played great, great, great teams and had some amazing results. We gave a lot to try to win.”
Mané and Liverpool couldn’t quite get across the line in the end, losing to Real Madrid in heartbreaking fashion, but in the process the players had proven—to themselves and those watching on—that they belonged there.
Having done that, Mané says the goal now is to win it. To win the Champions League and the Premier League and anything else that’s out there to win. Not, mind you, that he thinks it’s a given that Liverpool will be in the running to do that.
The star winger knows how hard it will be and how much work it will take, in large part thanks to last season’s efforts. But he believes that this group, and him amongst them, have the necessary talent and drive; that, at the very least, they can.
“We have tried to forget about that,” he added, “and we are doing our best this season to try to go to the final again—and why not win it? Of course, last season, nobody expected it from us, and maybe this year they do.
“But that’s not pressure. That’s motivation to do even better. You need that. We are on a good run, and we have started well this season. It’s too early to speak about the title, or winning trophies yet, but we can take it game by game.
“It’s not easy. There are so many great teams. Both the Manchester clubs, Chelsea as well. But we are Liverpool. We don’t concentrate on other teams; we are thinking about ourselves.”