Liverpool today officially completed the signing of 24-year-old Senegalese international Sadio Mané from Southampton, bringing in a player that both club and manager Jürgen Klopp have been watching closely since he broke through at RB Salzburg as a 21-year-old with a pair of dominant attacking seasons in the Austrian Bundesliga.
And as with any new signing, one of the first questions many fans have is what number he will be wearing. Yesterday, when leaving his medical, Mané appeared to be wearing a pair of shorts with the number 29 on them, leading many to assume that would be his Liverpool number. Turns out that was half right. He won’t be wearing the 29; he’ll be wearing the 19.
Mané had worm the 10 at both Southampton and in his second season at RB Salzburg. He started out in Austria with the number 50, and has at times been handed the eight for Senegal—though he most often wears the 10 for his country as well. All three numbers seemed unlikely choices for any number of obvious reasons—at least if he didn’t want to try taking on Steven Gerrard’s shirt number.
Either he didn’t, or the club wasn’t prepared to hand it to him. Either way, 19 will give Mané a shirt number he can make some history in if he does well, though it might carry its own weight of expectation just as a lower number like 10 or eight would have. It’s just in this case, those expectations are that Mané, as a £30M signing, will do better than his predecessors.
The last man to wear the 19 for Liverpool was Steven Caulker. Before him, Javier Manquillo. Before him, Stewart Downing and Ryan Babel and Fernando Morientes and Pegguy Arphexad. It is, to say the least, not a shirt of historical significance at the club. Mané will be seeking, then, to bring a little bit of success to the number 19 at the club.