Jurgen Klopp pays tribute to 'one of Liverpool's greatest' as Sadio Mane leaves for Bayern Munich

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Sadio Mane was one of Jurgen Klopp's first signings as Liverpool manager and the pair are close - PA
Sadio Mane was one of Jurgen Klopp's first signings as Liverpool manager and the pair are close - PA

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has not hidden the sense of disappointment at Sadio Mane’s sale to Bayern Munich, describing it as a ‘loss’ and ‘big moment’ for his club.

Mane says he left Anfield for a new football challenge at Bayern and it is a tribute to the Senegal striker’s impact on Merseyside that confirmation of the £35.1 million exit was accompanied by an extended and emotional farewell interview on Liverpool’s club media channels.

Rarely, if ever, is a star player given such a send-off unless they are announcing their retirement.

“My life is always (about a) challenge and when it came I said to the club that I want to leave, I want to go somewhere else to see a new challenge,” said Mane. “It is not anything else. It is just a challenge because for me I want to always be challenging myself to get better and better.

“When both clubs agreed (the transfer), I sent a long text to say goodbye to everybody, which is normal. They were sad, as I was, but it is part of life. We just have to accept it.”

Klopp offered a personal tribute to the 30-year-old, recognising Mane as a ‘true club legend’.

“It’s a big moment. There is no point in anyone trying to pretend otherwise,” said Klopp.

Mane leaves Liverpool with a record of 90 goals in 198 matches - REUTERS
Mane leaves Liverpool with a record of 90 goals in 198 matches - REUTERS

“One of Liverpool’s greatest ever players is leaving and we must acknowledge how significant this is.

“He leaves with his status among the greats guaranteed. And, yes, he leaves in a moment where he is one of the best players in world football.

“But we must not dwell on what we now lose, instead celebrate what we were privileged to have.

“The goals he scored, the trophies he won; a legend, for sure, but also a modern-day Liverpool icon.

“Since he first stepped through the door, he made us better. If someone had told us in that moment what he would go on to contribute and achieve for this club, I’m not sure it would have been possible to comprehend in that moment. Not the scale of it at least. Sadio made it all possible.

“To be that good for such a sustained period and continuously improve season on season – no matter how high he set his own bar in the previous one – is an example to any player anywhere on the planet that professionalism and dedication leads to reward.

“I respect completely his decision and I’m sure our supporters do also. If you love LFC, you have to love Sadio – non-negotiable. It is possible to do this while accepting our loss is Bayern’s gain.”

Liverpool negotiated with Bayern when it became apparent they could not agree a new contract with Mane, whose deal was due to run until 2023.

The club reacted by securing Darwin Nunez from Benfica, although it could be argued Mane’s replacement is actually Luis Diaz, who joined from Porto last January.

Luis Diaz - GETTY IMAGES
Luis Diaz - GETTY IMAGES

Mane said the club’s future is in safe hands having witnessed Diaz’s potential over the last six months.

“You have now Diogo (Jota) and Diaz also – wow, what a player they have,” said Mane. “I wish them all the best. I think it will always work well for them.”

There may be echoes of Mane’s departure in the exit of Mohamed Salah in a year’s time if the Egyptian is unable to agree a new deal. Unlike Mane, Salah is prepared to bide his time in the knowledge he can sign a pre-contract agreement with overseas clubs in January and then leave on a free transfer in 2023.

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