SOCCER

Analysis: What Sadio Mané brings to the table for Bayern Munich

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It’s been almost two weeks since Bayern Munich signed Sadio Mané, and I still haven’t recovered from this transfer. Mané is an elite player and would greatly improve our chances of winning just about anything. I could hear the disappointed sighs of all the top clubs in Europe.

The departure of Robert Lewandowski (whenever that materializes) will leave a huge void behind him, as you would expect with the loss of the best player in the world. Adding Sadio Mane to the roster, although not a similar option, gives a lot of relief as the man is a proven game-changer. He’s definitely one of those players who has the “X factor” about him and is all about the clutch.

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Many (including me) want to see Bayern bring a good no. 9 in addition to Mané, but the Senegal striker is also capable of playing as a quick target, something similar to Jamie Vardy at Leicester City, Son Heung-Min at Tottenham and Kylian Mbappé at PSG. The player is also a superb winger, and one need look no further than his tenure at Liverpool to come to that conclusion. What’s more, he can also play as a playmaker in half-space, something we’ve seen him do occasionally at Southampton and Liverpool.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at the different roles Mane could play in the roster and how they could benefit the team.

Sadio Ma9?

Mane is deadly in front of goal.
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Mané himself firmly believes he can excel as a no. 9, and there is no doubt that he would be excellent at the job. Sure, he’s not a conventional 9, isn’t good in the air, and might not be the best at holding the ball to get his teammates into a game, but he sure as hell is fast, an excellent finisher, and is feared for his ability in 1v1 situations. A through ball would be all it takes for a Sadigoal. Alright, I have to stop (but will I?).

Nagelsmann’s high pressure is bound to create turnovers and ill-timed passes from the opposition that could be exploited. The manager is also aiming to create numerical advantages in the final third which could also help distract Mane, who can make opposing defenses pay. Yes, Mané is not Lewandowski, but he can give us a different dynamic, simplifying the overall game.

Of course, the best-case scenario is for Lewandowski to stay, as Bayern usually thrive on a big physical no. 9 who is competent to score with all Part of the body. However, if we don’t retain Lewandowski and sign a proper no. 9 in replacement (Scamacca, Tel, Kane, Kalajdžić, etc.), Mané in 9 is a very solid option. Of course, the air baggage has to be collected by players like Müller, Goretzka and De Ligt (????), but I think it could work very well.

The no. 9 looks like the obvious void Mane should fill as Lewandowski most likely leaves, and Bayern don’t appear to have a replacement waiting. At least not yet.

hot wings

FC Bayern Muenchen v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: second leg

Sadio Mane was brilliant as a winger against Bayern in 2019 (the trauma!).
Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Bayern have one of the best wing depths in Europe. Leroy Sané, Serge Gnabry, Kingsley Coman and Jamal Musiala… now it’s simply overwhelming and would make for the best winger group in the world if not for injuries and a high degree of inconsistency. Gnabry in particular has been super inconsistent lately to the point where the club are actually considering a sale (they’re not exceeding the reported offer of 19m), while Sané has received criticism for his work ethic and nonchalant attitude which sometimes raises its ugly face on the ground.

It basically means Coman and Musiala would get more minutes, and that could actually be great for the club, because Musiala is a beast on the wing, and Coman is great at putting defenders into a trance. That being said, Nagelsmann has always been very willing to rotate players on the wing which means Sané and Gnabry continue to enjoy a significant portion of wing minutes. The entry of Sadio Mané, however, could change everything.

If Bayern keep Lewandowski or sign a true 9, Mane would most likely play as a winger, which is arguably his most natural position. Given that all of Bayern’s wingers except Musiala are terrible at the crossover, Mane would be an instant upgrade. He would also easily bench Gnabry and Sané in their current form. I mean, it looks like Davies and Mané are already gearing up to form a lethal partnership, and I totally agree.

Gnabry is highly likely to leave the club this window, which would further strengthen the case for a winger role for Mane. However, as things stand, it looks like Bayern are well covered in that department, and Mane might need to put up a solid and consistent fight to move other players around.

The Mandalorian

Monterrey v Liverpool FC - FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019

Mane is also a very good playmaker.
Photo by Marcio Machado/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

It’s certainly the dark horse of the 3 roles, but the one where Mané could thrive just as well – the playmaking role. Well, hear me out first. Thomas Müller cannot and will never be benched. However, Mané could play as a winger-playmaker hybrid alongside Thomas Müller, swapping positions often and creating havoc in the opposing third.

In essence, he could play the role of Leroy Sané, but in a way that compliments rather than diminishes Müller’s abilities. Mané’s spatial awareness is fantastic and he reads the game very well. like Muller. So in essence it would be something like what we saw at times with James and Müller under Jupp in 2018.

In this case, Mané would be James if the Colombian was faster, a better shooter, more clutch and far more weatherproof. Two playmakers in an attacking setup certainly sound enticing, and even more so when you realize that in such a setup Davies would function as a pseudo winger (when doesn’t he?!!!), bombarding from the left flank and sending to the cross.

Liverpool v FC Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First leg

One of those players is currently a Bayern winger. The other is a temperature dealer.
Photo by TF-Images/TF-Images via Getty Images

And finally, Mané could be a false 9 at times, taking Müller’s AM role higher up the pitch. He would function like a German Götze of 2014, drifting between defenders and getting into goalscoring situations. He would ideally be supported on the flanks by Sané / Coman and Musiala, and Müller at 10.

Ideally, he would often switch positions with the rest of the front line. Fluid attacks are often much harder to defend against, which is why it could do wonders for formation and tactics. It also seems right in the middle of Nagelsmann’s territory, which is why I think it could work very well.

To sum up, we have in our hands the ingredients for a superb transfer. Let’s hope Nagelsmann makes full use of Mane’s abilities and finds the best way to use him, while combining his abilities with those of his teammates for an even better product.

Now watch Nags introduce a major storyline and cast Mané at LWB.

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