Whenever I come across the name Sadio Mane, his pensive smile comes to my mind. Followed by his first goal in LFC colours. Mane anticipated a ball from the midfield, got past two Arsenal defenders before galvanizing the whole Emirates stadium. That goal had everything: pace, power, and precision. But for me, the goal and the official arrival of Mane signaled something else. It was the beginning of something. It was the beginning of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
Over the course of time, Sadio would become a fan favourite and eventually an Anfield legend. Mo Salah’s arrival in the following season would mean a redistribution of goals but Mane never failed to perform.
Sadio Mane’s numbers for The Reds are staggering, to say the least. Liverpool have never lost when Sadio has scored in Anfield. That is 56 games. He has found the back of the net in PL (for both LFC and Southampton) 111 times. That is 9 less than Steven Gerrard and 7 more than Didier Drogba. He even won the golden boot in 18-19 when LFC came 1 point short of the title (just like this 21-22 season).
Even after all this stat, Sadio meant something different. He was the start of something beautiful. He was the beginning of the Klopp era. Even the Arsenal match that I have posted above, that was the “Heavymetal” Klopp football. Liverpool would go up 4-1 with that Mane’s goal but bottle the lead to end the game 4-3.
Liverpool had Salah with him, one of the greatest goalscorers of this generation. But even when Salah failed to provide the relief, the Red faithful would seek a helping hand from the Senegalese international. The UCL final of 2018. The last-minute goal vs Aston Villa in 2019. Or even the late winner vs Everton in 2016 (without Salah). The list is just endless when Mane rose to the occasion.
His departure is not merely the departure of a world-class footballer but it is also a new beginning, just like his arrival was. It is the beginning of the end. The end of the core that Klopp had built in his initial years. The bunch that was instrumental in winning the CL and PL (and every other trophy). Origi and Gini have already left. Next year Firmino is leaving for sure. Salah’s situation is also dicey. It will be interesting to see how Klopp rebuilds his side as he will be here for 4 more years. One thing is for sure though, he won’t have another Sadio Mane.