A day after word leaked out that Liverpool were preparing to make a push to land Southampton attacker Sadio Mane, a flurry of reports this evening confirm that Liverpool’s interest in the 24-year-old is very serious and that negotiations with the player’s current club are at an advanced stage.
From Paul Joyce at the Express to Chris Bascombe at the Telegraph to Dominic King at the Mail, every big name journalist with connections at Liverpool this evening is claiming a £30M deal—presumed to be £25M up front along with £5M in add-ons—is in the works and that Southampton has been receptive.
Liverpool have yet to enter into contract negotiations with the player, but reports suggest they believe they will be given permission to do so shortly, and that Mane is eager to move to Liverpool in order to work with Jürgen Klopp, who has been tracking the player since his days at Red Bull Salzburg.
Mane made his breakthrough with the Austrian Bundesliga side as a 21- and 22-year-old, playing two seasons for Salzburg and making claim to being one of the most promising young attacking talents on the continent in the process and catching the eye of all of Europe’s biggest clubs.
In just over two seasons, Mane scored 45 goals and 33 assists in 87 appearances across all competitions for Salzburg, a jaw-dropping return of a goal or assist every 92 minutes for a player in a supporting role. He mainly played on the right, but showed the flexibility to contribute from anywhere behind the striker.
Liverpool at the time were watching, and Mane’s name was put to Brendan Rodgers in the summer of 2014 as a potential transfer target only for the manager to pass on him. In Germany, Dortmund and Klopp similarly weren’t ready to take the gamble on him. Southampton were, capturing him for £12M.
In the two seasons since, he has scored 25 goals and 13 assists in 75 appearances across all competitions, good for a goal or assist for every 138 minutes he’s been on the pitch. For a 24-year-old with that kind of a return who has now proven himself in one of Europe’s big leagues, £30M seems a more than fair price.
Given the small avalanche of reports this evening claiming a deal at or around that price isn’t far off being completed, Liverpool appear on the verge of signing themselves a top quality attacker who, no matter how and where he slots in, will instantly improve the starting eleven.