By dint of repeating that a player is under-rated, we tend to oversell him. Sadio Mané is undoubtedly the exception that proves the rule. Underrated, it is. Because his game lends itself less to Youtube compilations than others, because his pure stats are not worth those of other cyborgs today and because the Senegalese has never made waves but a lot of differences. He is not oversold either: if Bayern agreed to pay nearly 40 million for a player who only had a one-year contract left, it is because the game was worth the candle.
No doubt is allowed: the big winner of the case is the Bavarian club. At 30, Sadio Mané is undoubtedly at the zenith of his career, in a form of fulfillment that his past season has only accentuated. Him the tightrope walker on the left side has turned into an unprecedented playmaker: technique in movement, intensity at all times, lethal passes in the direction of the dragsters Salah and Luis Diaz and leadership at all times. Something to inspire a new song on the side of Anfield, after the box of the one sung in 2019. Here are the words of the new opus, to the tune of Money, Money, Money by Abba.
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“Mane, Mane, Mane, Sadio Mane, he plays Mane, Mane, Mane, Sadio Mane, he plays for Liverpool. Ah ha aaa, all the things he can do. We have Sadio Mane Mane, he plays for Liverpool”
“All the things he can do…“. These are the words that best sum up Mané. And it’s almost a surprise. When the Senegalese arrives at Anfield from Southampton for 41.20 million euros, he is a spectacular player, with blows of “frequent bursts but the regularity still uncertain. Above all, it comes after the XXL failures Christian Benteke and Andy Carroll. So, inevitably, the fear of the flop awaits the fans of the Reds.
Carragher’s tweet, Mané’s regularity
“When Mané signed, I gave my opinion on this deal on social networksadmitted Jamie Carragher last May to the Telegraph. ‘I find that 41 million is expensive’: that’s what I wrote. This tweet has aged badly, as have all the replies approving this observation. There was a consensus that he was overpaid“Six years later, of course…”Whatever the price paid, it was a bargain“.
During these six years, Mané will have become a total player, with equal performance whatever his position. Apart from his first season, he will have systematically played more than 45 matches per season. In Klopp’s heavy-metal football, with a game that lends itself to beatings and therefore injury, it’s a performance to highlight. He will never be reluctant to defend and if Robertson appears stronger than Alexander-Arnold defensively, it is also because the Senegalese will have made the necessary efforts. The icing on the cake, the timing of his pawns will often have weighed heavily: since 2016, only CR7, Benzema and Lewandowski have scored more than him in the final phase of C1.
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Collective, it will have been. Undoubtedly one of the reasons which explains the current situation. His mirror on the right, Mohamed Salah, ended up embodying these Reds for a long time. At a time when a strategic shift was made at the Mersey club, at a time when it was necessary to give way to a new generation, it was the Senegalese who was sacrificed. His initial desires played, of course. But while he had the 12th salary in the locker room (!), he never received the sign of affection expected from his management for a contract extension. Quickly, the divorce became obvious. Whereas, for Salah, the discussions were open. Difficult to fire the main headliner. A little less to release his best lieutenant.
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
Credit: Getty Images
Salah rather than Mané… even for the Ballon d’Or
A shining symbol of the lack of economic, political and media recognition from which it suffers. This season, when it came to drawing up their favorites for the Ballon d’Or, the English bookmakers had systematically placed Mo Salah ahead of Sadio Mané. Proof that football often stops at the borders in England and that the CAN and the qualification for the World Cup obtained by the Lions of Teranga did not ultimately weigh heavily against the exploits of Pharaoh Salah in the Premier League, yet disgusted twice in selection.
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In the Ballon d’Or ranking, Salah has become a habit, the kind of player who inevitably squats the Top 10 with his delirious stats and who goes up or down depending on the performance of the Reds (6th, 5th, 7th). Mané, he only beat him once, in 2019, after having carried Liverpool to the heights in C1, having finished co-top scorer in the Premier League and having been a CAN finalist. But, in 2019, it was Virgil van Dijk who received the most votes at Liverpool in the golden ballot. Like what, a defender can be sexier than an attacker.
Basically, Mané does not stick to the needs of the time. But that’s also why it has made a special place for itself in the European landscape in recent years. His doctrine is simple:Me, I am Sadio Mané and I do Sadio Mané, that is to say that I am indeed more erased“, he advanced last March to France Football. Simple but terribly effective. It would be a question of not forgetting it…
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