MUNICH (AP) — Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp described Sadio Mané as a “modern-day icon” of the English club after the Senegal forward's move to Bayern Munich for 32 million euros ($33.5 million) was finalized on Wednesday.
“It’s a big moment — there is no point in anyone trying to pretend otherwise," Klopp said. “One of Liverpool’s greatest ever players is leaving and we must acknowledge how significant this is."
The 30-year-old Mané has signed a contract with Bayern through June 2025 in a deal that could end up being worth 41 million euros ($42.9 million) depending on future achievements at the Bavarian powerhouse.
“There are very few players like him in the world,” Bayern chief executive Oliver Kahn said. “We’re sure that Sadio Mané will delight our fans in the coming years with his spectacular style of play. He’s ambitious and eager to win more titles. This package is very strong.”
Klopp's sentiments were similar.
“He leaves with our gratitude and our love," the Liverpool manager said of Mané. "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."
Mané just completed what was arguably the best season of his career, converting the clinching penalty in a shootout to win the African Cup of Nations for Senegal, helping his country qualify for the World Cup, and starring for Liverpool in a campaign where the club nearly achieved an unprecedented quadruple of major trophies.
He won every major honor with Liverpool — the Champions League and Club World Cup in 2019, the Premier League in 2020 and both the FA Cup and League Cup in 2022. He has also scored 31 goals in 89 appearances for Senegal and was named African Footballer of the Year in 2019.
Liverpool has already signed a replacement for Mané in Darwin Núñez, the Uruguay striker who has joined from Benfica.
As for Bayern, Mané’s arrival will fuel speculation that Poland star Robert Lewandowski is set to leave. Lewandowski, who has scored 312 goals in 384 Bundesliga games for Bayern and former club Borussia Dortmund, has been pushing for a departure since last season ended.
Lewandowski tallied 35 goals in 34 appearances last season to become the Bundesliga’s leading scorer for the fifth straight season, and the seventh time overall. He also broke the old record for Bundesliga goals in a season with 41 last year.
Mané finished last season playing as Liverpool's central striker, and scored 120 goals in 269 competitive appearances for the club after joining from Southampton in 2016. He previously played for Salzburg, where he won the Austrian title, and French club Metz, which he joined as a 19-year-old from Génération Foot in Senegal.
“Everyone knows his outstanding technical qualities as well as his incredible mentality,” Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić said. “He will contribute a lot and help to lead our team, which has a great structure.”
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The Associated Press