My Football FactsArticles

By Jonathan Lewis | 4th Aug 2023

Before Sadio Mane’s stint as a Bayern Munich player began to spectacularly unravel, the feeling in England was that Liverpool had made a grave error by agreeing to sell the forward to the German champions. Mane had, after all, scored 11 goals in the Bundesliga by the last week of October 2022 while Liverpool had suffered back-to-back league defeats against Nottingham Forest and Leeds United during the same time.

An unexpected end

Few, however, could have predicted just how quickly the narrative around Mane would change and that Bayern would happily sell the player to Al Nassr just ten months later. The 31-year-old joins the Saudi Arabian club having admitted that he would have preferred to prove his critics wrong by staying at Bayern and making a success of his time in Germany.


While Bayern may return to a familiar rhythm of Bundesliga dominance, the future for Mane in Saudi Arabia is less certain.

Mane needs to feel the love 

One of the reasons why Mane wasn’t able to rekindle his best form for Bayern after suffering an injury that ruled him out of the World Cup was that when he endured a slow start in front of goal following his comeback, he understandably lost his confidence.

Crucially, the man management of then Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann was different from that of Mane’s former manager Jurgen Klopp which meant that Mane didn’t get the arm around his shoulder that he had become used to.

Instead, Nagelsmann kept his distance which the Senegalese forward was not accustomed to in times of difficulty. By the time Nagelsmann was sacked and Thomas Tuchel appointed, the pressure on Mane had grown to an unbearable degree which ultimately led to the well-documented altercation with Leroy Sane following a 3-0 defeat against Manchester City in the Champions League.

From then on, Mane became increasingly isolated at the club and a move in the summer seemed unavoidable.

A prolific striker and complex character 

. At the same time, this episode also shows that Mane needs to feel appreciated and supported in order to perform.

While this might be true for most players, we’ve seen that Mane needs significantly more affirmation than the average professional to be at his best. This is something that Klopp knew and did so well; when Mane left Liverpool he had been the driving force behind the Reds winning six major trophies during his time at Anfield. Time and time again, Klopp expertly dealt with the squad dynamics that could have negatively affected Mane’s on-field performances.

How then, will Mane now fare in a complex dressing room that has Cristiano Ronaldo in it?


Jonathan Lewis is an MFF sports writer

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