Sadio Mane to Bayern: How Pep fell in love with Senegal star in 2014
Mane joined Liverpool in 2016 and has been a crucial part of their success, scoring 120 goals in 269 appearances over the last six years and becoming one of Jurgen Klopp’s most trusted players.
Now, though, it’s all change as Bayern are planning for life with Mane.
And they know better than most of the threat he brings, having experienced it first-hand on more than one occasion.
Remembering Mane's starring role against Bayern in 2014
The Champions League tie between Bayern and Liverpool in 2019 showed Mane’s best qualities, as he scored a superb goal, but he showed his class even before that, when he played at Red Bull Salzburg.
Salzburg, at the time, were Austrian champions and had a fine group of young players including Peter Gulasci, Martin Hinteregger, Kevin Kampl and Jonathan Soriano, along with Mane.
In a friendly between the two teams in January 2014 at the Red Bull Arena in Salzburg, Mane was a star as the Austrian side ran out as 3-0 winners over a Bayern side then coached by Pep Guardiola.
Right from the off, Mane was a danger, as he pressed down the left wing, troubling Bayern’s right-back that evening, Javi Martinez, as the winger’s speed and energy proved to be a handful.
It didn’t take long for Mane to make a big impact too: in the 12th minute, he had a strong penalty claim turned down by the referee; a minute later, he was sent through on goal by Kampl and finished past Manuel Neuer.
In under a quarter of an hour, Bayern realized what they were dealing with and while this was supposed to be a mid-season friendly, Mane still brought out his famous fiery competitiveness.
He continued to trouble, as his pace was able to get the better of Bayern’s defence, and by the 18th minute, he made a run past Dante, forcing the Brazilian defender into a foul and winning Salzburg a penalty.
The spot-kick was converted, Salzburg were 2-0 up, but Mane’s work was not done: just before the end of the half, a dangerous run down the left by him ended with a pin-point cross to Robert Zulj, who made it 3-0.
The Austrian champions were running riot, and Mane was the leader of the orchestra as his energy was unmatched: he knew this was his moment to shine and he took it well.
In the second-half, he continued with more of the same, with his dribbling proving hard to stop and unmatched energy giving the Bayern defence plenty of hard work at the back.
The match would finish 3-0, and Mane would be taken off in the 84th minute, but his performance got plaudits from both Austrian and German media and his stock would rise soon after.
Salzburg – then managed by Roger Schmidt with Ralf Rangnick acting as Sporting Director – were honing some of Europe’s finest talents, and Mane was one of their first success stories.
Soon after the friendly, it was said that Guardiola was an admirer and reportedly keen on bringing Mane to the Allianz Arena, but a move never materialized.
Mane's advisor Bjorn Bezemer revealed in 2022 that he was surprised Bayern never made a move for the player, despite a starring performance in that friendly: "Sadio played an outstanding game. I was certain that Bayern would get in touch. It was so obvious. But they didn't, I was really surprised"
That ended up being Southampton's gain as the south coast club ended up securing the Senegalese’s signature, and that was the start of a glorious Premier League career with both the Saints and then Liverpool.
Now, in 2022, Bayern have finally got their man and even though Guardiola is no longer the head coach, Mane will be just as impactful to Julian Nagelsmann as they look to get back to their best on the European scene.