Senegal’s highly rated star and Captain Sadio Mane had a big announcement to make after the 2022 Champions League Final Game against Real Madrid. Win or lose, he was going to make a big announcement directly connected to his future at Liverpool; the subject he touched on but not the main announcement in the lead up to the game.
Fast forward mere hours after missing out on another Champions League title on the back of a 0-1 loss to Real Madrid largely thanks to the utter worldly exploits of Thibaut Courtois, Mane has announced his decision to exit Liverpool. Unlike teammate Mohammed Salah, Mane’s potential contract extension hasn’t been a matter of extensive discussion in the media.
The Senegalese international is set to leave The Reds this offseason with a year remaining on his contract or reverse course and play out the final year of his deal then leave as a free agent. While the latter prospect is unlikely to play out, what is certain is that Mane will leave Liverpool soon. Thus far, Liverpool has demonstrated the true mark of an elite team competing at the top level while making moves to avoid a sharp drop once its vaunted front three is out of the picture.
Diogo Jota is a long-term replacement for Roberto Firmino, Luis Diaz is a long-term replacement for Mo Salah while the recently signed Fabio Carvalho from Fulham is bound to replace Mane. There are a handful of reasons behind Mane’s departure and surely money has something if not everything to do with it. As impactful as he has been, Mane’s weekly salary is 100, 000 Pound Sterling according to Spotrac which ranks 11th on the Liverpool wage bill.
For the record, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ranks as Liverpool’s 10th highest-paid player and the outlook is even worse for Liverpool comparing Mane’s wages to players with far less impact and production but have higher wages. Manchester United backup goalkeeper, Dean Henderson, has the same wage bill as Mane and the average Victor Lindelof takes home 120,000 Pound Sterling. At a club like Bayern Munich that has reportedly shown interest to sign Mane, the Senegal Captain is sure to command more than what he gets from Liverpool.
Beyond money, it has been clear over the years, a tense relationship between Sadio and Salah and Sadio and Liverpool Head Coach Jurgen Klopp. With Salah, there is a clear battle for who scores the more goals and this plays into Mane’s stern reactions whenever he gets substituted off irrespective of Salah’s performance in games. In the aftermath of a win over Man United in the 2020-2021 season, Mane snubbed Klopp’s attempted handshake after he got subbed off in the 74th minute for Jota.
Salah gets all the headlines, he is the one who has songs sang about him wherever Liverpool fans are and it is overtly clear he is Klopp’s favourite among the two; surely something must give at some point after four years with Klopp and Salah. Mane’s reported decision to leave Liverpool because he desires a new challenge ought to be taken with a pinch of salt but not having the kind of ‘Salah’ adulation from fans and to an extent Executives of the team and Head Coach is what has led to this decision.
After winning the Champions League, Premier League, Carabao Cup, FA Cup, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup, Mane’s legacy is made at Liverpool and will go down as one of its best players and an important member of one of the best Liverpool teams of all time. Bayern Munich is an attractive club but the Bundesliga isn’t but a move to the Serie A is, considering the league’s improved ratings in the eyes of Pundits and the average fan in recent years. The final day drama that ensued in determining the league winner between AC Milan and Inter Milan helped to raise the profile of Serie A.
A Mane move to Juventus looks like the best option for the 2021 AFCON winner since the team lost Paulo Dybala on a free transfer and needs a replacement in the Winger/Support Striker role Mane has excelled at. The Bianconeri has been heavily linked with Angel Di Maria who has run down his PSG contract and will leave the French Club as a free agent with the French side aiming to restructure its playing unit and payroll in light of Kylian Mbappe’s massive contract renewal. Mane is still very quick, strong and an effective finisher and dribbler with a high possibility of making a seamless transition to the Serie A.
AC Milan needs an upgrade on Alexis Saelemakers down its right flank and Sadio Mane is a top candidate for that role same way Inter Milan would need him to take up a vacant spot in its attacking unit. Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal are very much leaving Inter while Ivan Perisic is being courted by Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspurs and could leave. Having Sadio Mane as a replacement isn’t bad at all.
In Italy, Mane gets the chance to return Juventus to the top after ceding the title to the Milan clubs for two straight years or aid Inter win back the title or perhaps front AC Milan’s march back to the elite as he did with Liverpool and get the kind of respect he deserves.
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