Sadio Mane: African Speed, Dribbling, and Passion
Sadio Mane is undoubtedly one of the best footballers in African history, who became an inevitable part of the powerful Liverpool built by Jurgen Klopp. The brightest periods of the Reds in modern history are tightly related to the discipline on the pitch, while the attacking line is usually unpredictable and extremely passionate. In this regard, the Senegalese footballer is a perfect representative of such a philosophy, which helped him to be one of the contenders for the Ballon d’Or.
The future talent was born in the Senegalese town of Bambali, in the middle of spring 1992, on April 10th. His father had a specific position (Imam) in the Islamic society and so forbade a young Sadio to participate in any sports activity. However, Mane senior died when Sadio was seven, and the rest of the family supported the boy and his desire to play football. It led Mane to Dakar in 2007, where the guy entered a local club, Generation Foot, in two years and even helped them to promotion to a higher division in 2011.
As the Dakar’s club had good relations with a French club Metz, Sadio was sent to Europe to try his forces in Ligue 2. With 22 appearances for the French club and two league goals, Sadio was bought by RB Salzburg for a pretty crucial sum of 4 million euros. The project led by Red Bull management is famous for its scouting accuracy, and the Senegalese player became one of the brilliants in its collection. In two seasons in the Austrian Bundesliga, Mane played 63 games and scored 31 goals from the left-winger position. At the same time, he showed his potential as the right-winger and even central striker, who was also rather disciplined and could be effective in pressing and helping his defenders.
Such a portfolio attracted the attention of the English club Southampton, which was playing in the English Premier League. The Saints are also regarded as the club with a great scouting department, and their bid of 15 million euros was a profitable step in 2014. However, before the next transfer, Sadio played 63 games for Southampton and scored 21 goals. One of the most effective of his achievements became the fastest hat-trick in the EPL as it took only 176 seconds to score three goals against Aston Villa in the next year after his arrival to Albion.
In 2016, the ambitious project in Liverpool under the coaching of Jurgen Klopp saw in Mane one of the attacking options they lacked. 40+ million euros has looked like a great deal for Southampton, while the Reds have also been happy now that they could pay such a small sum for one of their leaders on the attacking side. At that time, it was the biggest bid for the African footballer. Although Sadio played only 27 games in the EPL in his first season in Liverpool, he scored 13 goals and was named in the League’s team of the season while also being noted as the best player of the year in his club.
However, that was only the beginning of the fairytale for Mane in the Merseyside club. The arrival of the Egyptian star in 2017, Mohamed Salah, formed a super productive attacking trio with a Brazilian Firmino as a central striker while the Africans played on the wings. The team reached the Champions League final that season but lost to Real Madrid. That year, even Josep Guardiola couldn’t understand how Liverpool’s trio was playing in attack and how to cope with them – they were incredibly creative and unpredictable close to the opponents’ nets.
Although Sadio scored only ten goals in the league in his second season, he flourished in the season 2018-2019. Along with Salah and Aubameyoung, they all scored 22 goals in the EPL and received Golden Boots of the season, while Liverpool also won the Champions League, beating Tottenham in the decisive game. The Reds were also pretty close to winning the Premier League but arrived second with crucial 97 points, while Manchester City earned 98. That year, Mane was regarded as even a more influential player than Salah and finished fourth in the Ballon d’Or voting after Messi, Van Dijk, and Ronaldo.
While a lot of experts predicted a failure for Liverpool the next year, Sadio and his teammates earned 99 points in the EPL and won the long-awaited league title for the Reds but failed in the UCL playoffs. The Senegalese made 44 club appearances and scored influential 20 goals, becoming one of the best in the team. To the moment, Mane plays his sixth season in the red jersey and has scored more than ten goals in each of them (88 in 192 league games). At the same time, the year 2022 became great for Sadio as he led Senegal as the captain to the maiden victory at the African Cup, beating Egypt (with Salah as an opposing captain) in the final. Overall, Mane played 89 games for his national team and scored 29 goals. The latter digits are the joint-first place in the list of national scorers, while 11 more caps will bring him to the leading position in terms of appearances.
As his contract ends in the summer of 2023, the sides are discussing a new deal, while the clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid, and PSG are attentively looking at how this process goes and are ready to come up with a transfer offer. The footballer himself once said that he would likely try his forces in another championship. Probably, he expects a better salary, as his recent one is only 100 000 per week or 6,5 million euros annually. The sources report that his net worth is at the level of 25 million dollars, while Mane is still actively involved in charity projects like building a school or hospital in Senegal, which is worth hundreds of thousand dollars.
The playstyle of Mane is really unique. Thus, Sadio has a great balance between his attacking and defensive skills to be both at the top level. With a height of 1.75 metres, he is great at playing with his head while also having great speed and dribbling. At the same time, the Senegalese attacker is a rather active and aggressive player, which is likely pressing opponents and helping his defence. Such a work rate helped him to be ranked higher than many other wingers and strikers, who are great only at attacking. Mane also has great passing ability and shoots from both legs, which allows him to be effective on both flanks and in the centre of the attack. It’s hard to call Sadio the best African player ever, having competitors like Weah, Drogba, Toure, Eto’o, and Salah, but Mane pretends to be the best Senegalese footballer in history and among the elite ones on the whole continent.