Nothing lasts forever, not in football or life. It feels facile to say, but time passes, players come and go, styles and tactics shift. Each new season, no matter how good the one before was, brings change. Each goal or assist could be the last you see from a player.
Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush had their last goals. They had a final time they linked up. There was a last time fans saw John Barnes beat a man on the wing. A last Robbie Fowler poached goal. A last Steven Gerrard thunderbolt from distance.
Add to that list Sadio Mané. A last goal, a last game, a last time Mané played together with Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah as part of the front three that has so defined the Jürgen Klopp era and Liverpool’s return to the top of the football world.
“One of Liverpool’s greatest ever players is leaving and we must acknowledge how significant this is,” Klopp said, reflecting on the departure of a new Liverpool legend. “He leaves with our gratitude and our love. He leaves with his status among the greats guaranteed.
“He leaves in a moment where he is one of the best players in world football. But we must not dwell on what we now lose, instead celebrate what we were privileged to have. The goals he scored, the trophies he won. A legend for sure. A modern day Liverpool icon.”
His 269 appearances rank Mané 78th in the all time list. His 269 goals rank him 14th in that category. His 30 goal combinations with Salah make for the fifth most productive goal scoring partnership in Liverpool history. His 23 goal combinations with Firmino rank tenth.
He leaves having won the Super Cup, Club World Cup, League Cup, FA Cup, Champions League, and Premier League. In his time as a Red he also won the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal, was named to the Premier League’s team of the year four times, won a golden boot, and was named Africa’s player of the year.
“Since he first stepped through the door, he made us better,” Klopp added. “If someone had told us in that moment what he would go on to contribute and achieve for this club, I’m not sure it would have been possible to comprehend in that moment. Not the scale of it at least. Sadio made it all possible.
“I respect completely his decision and I’m sure our supporters do also. If you love LFC, you have to love Sadio—non-negotiable. It is possible to do this while accepting our loss is Bayern’s gain.
“We wish him nothing but success in every match he plays in, unless, of course, it’s against us. His star will continue to rise, I have no doubts.”