Sadio Mane

Sadio Mane

Sadio Mane

Current Club: Al-Nassr FC.

Previous Clubs: Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Southampton, RB Salzburg, Metz, Generation Foot.

Loan Clubs: N/A.

International: Senegal 97caps 37goals.

Trophies Won: African Footballer of the Year 2019, 2022. English Premier League Golden Boot 2018/19. African Cup of Nations 2022. European Champions League 2018/19. FIFA Club World Cup 2019. German Bundesliga 2022/23. English Premier League 2019/20. UEFA Supercup 2019/20. English FA Cup 2022. English League Cup 2022. German Super Cup 2022/23. Austrian Bundesliga 2013/4, 2014/15. Austrian FA Cup 2013/14, 2014/15.

At his peak Mane was incredibly quick, particularly his acceleration from a standing start which almost no one could live with. He was strong, making him capable of holding onto the ball under incredible pressure from opponents, with the skill to get himself out of those tight spots and the technique to do make sure that his end product was almost always excellent. After an excellent start to his Liverpool career playing on the right wing, he stepped up a level when moved over to the left to make room for the arrival of Mohammed Salah.

Mane's intelligence to time his runs, breaking the offside trap with regularity, saw him cause no end of havoc for opponents. Added to that, he had a hard, almost nasty edge to his game, which made him capable of dishing out punishment in return to defenders who tried to bully him physically. That was probably one of his biggest strengths, though Mane was often harshly judged to be the offender when in a 50-50 tussle. Still, that ability to mix it with the toughest of them and give them as good as they gave him, to the point when they were usually taking it in turns to try and rough him up. And failing.

Sadly over the last three seasons or so, Mane has been a fading force despite only being 31 now. He was a half step off the pace at Liverpool on the left, leading to him being shifted central to fill a gap. While he did a job there, and always put himself about working hard as ever, the legs were clearly no longer up to the speed of his mind. He was late into challenges he normally would have won easily, he was being caught on the ball and was no longer getting in behind as easily.

A move to Bayern, to play in a weaker league, has not helped him, just further emphasised how far off his best he now is. His frustration, which had become clearly visible at Liverpool, grew until he was bickering and fighting with his own teammates, to the point where Bayern decided to offload him and were happy to take the offer from Al-Nassr for him. The attitude that saw him cause issues behind the scenes when he wanted something (usually a move), even going on strike more than once to get moves, became his normal demeanour at Bayern.

It is a sad fall from grace for a player who was quite simply breathtaking for a number of years at Liverpool until he almost fell off a cliff, performance-wise, in a surprisingly short period. I can only think that the toll of playing so much football for club and country, with little opportunity to rest, playing through minor injuries along the way, all contributed to him losing his way so young. There is certainly little doubt that, as they say, his legs have gone.

With all that he does for his hometown, Mane sends large amounts home to make it a better place for those who are living there, it is hard to begrudge him going to Saudi Arabia for the money. With the way he has been playing, it is probably best for all that he did make this move and can hopefully continue to put his money to good use improving the facilities and infrastructure back in Senegal. It also gives him a chance to take it a little bit easier in a lower stress environment and prolong his career.

It will also be nice for Cristiano Ronaldo to get the chance to play alongside Mane, though judging by the pictures of his children on social media, at least one daughter would have preferred it to be Salah he would be lining up alongside.

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