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Sadio Mane will leave Liverpool for Bayern Munich after playing a crucial role in the club’s transformation under Jurgen Klopp | Soccer News

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Jurgen Klopp probably didn’t want to address the transfer rumors in his press conference ahead of the Champions League final, but questions about Sadio Mane’s future, however incongruous, were met with lengthy answers and glowing praise.

Mane was described as being “in the shape of his life” ahead of the final, with Klopp adding he “couldn’t care less” about stories linking him with Bayern Munich. “It’s a joy to see him in training and in games at the moment,” the Liverpool manager said.

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Klopp already knew then that the meeting with Real Madrid would probably be Mane’s last game for Liverpool. His desire for a new challenge became public days after the Stade de France defeat and, a month later, a move to Bayern looks imminent.

It’s telling, however, that Klopp praised the 30-year-old to the last. Liverpool hate losing him but there are no hard feelings. Not after all he’s done for them.

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Watch Sadio Mane’s finest Premier League goals

Mane’s future had, until the final weeks of the season, been something of a sideshow to Salah’s – even though he too was entering the final year of his contract at Anfield.

It’s a familiar dynamic. Mane, though cherished by those associated with Liverpool, tends to receive only a fraction of the attention and praise given to his team-mate. It has been so since the arrival of the Egyptian, a year after his, in 2017.

He is leaving, however, having played an equally crucial role in transforming the club during Klopp’s tenure, leaving an indelible mark on Liverpool and indeed the Premier League as a whole.

His arrival from Southampton in 2016 marked the beginning of the glorious chapter that followed. Mane was, after all, Klopp’s first major signing. Fast, fiercely aggressive and ruthlessly efficient, he came to embody Klopp’s Liverpool perhaps better than anyone.

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With Salah, he helped redefine the expectations of wide strikers, hitting double the goals in six consecutive seasons and scoring at least 20 goals in four of them. His overall tally of 120 puts him 14th in Liverpool’s all-time scoring charts.

The numbers cement his legacy at Liverpool while his consistency in output, as well as the pivotal role he played in the club’s first triumph in 30 years in 2020, also guarantees Premier League greatness.

Only three players have racked up more Premier League goals than Mane during his time at Liverpool while only aTottenham’s Harry Kane scored more which proved decisive.

Indeed, one of Mane’s greatest strengths, and the one that separates him from his peers, is his ability to deliver at key moments, when the pressure is most intense and the stakes are highest.

He’s Liverpool’s clutch performer, to use a popular term in American sports, and the numbers back it up. According to Opta, his goals earned Jurgen Klopp’s side a total of 63 Premier League points at an average of more than 10 per season.

He has also been decisive in cup competitions, the most recent example being last season’s FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City at Wembley, when his brace secured Liverpool’s place in a final that they were going to win.

In the Champions League, raw stats show Salah trailing him 33 goals to 24 during his time at Liverpool, but it’s worth noting that Mane’s tally includes 15 in the Round of 16 – a percentage of 63 per cent – against 11 for Salah – or 33 percent.

Indeed, since 2016, only Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Robert Lewandowski have scored the most goals in the Champions League Round of 16. It’s another stat that underlines Mane’s appetite for the really big occasions.

His contribution to Liverpool’s success under Klopp is even more impressive given the adaptations he had to make along the way, moving from right to left to welcome Salah in 2017, then moving to centre-forward to make way for Luis Diaz last season.

Each role had a different set of tactical requirements, but Mane transitioned seamlessly each time, displaying a level of intelligence to match his physical and technical qualities.

“In every position he is world class,” was Klopp’s verdict.

Sadio Mane advances against Wolves
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Sadio Mane has scored 120 goals in 269 games for Liverpool

β€œHe always moves for someone else but his performance never goes down,” added sky sports expert Jamie Carragher. “No matter where Mane plays, you get exactly the same from him. The same can’t be said for the rest of Liverpool’s attack.”

In truth, the same cannot be said for many players.

Mane hasn’t always received the recognition he deserves for his role in Liverpool’s recent successes, but his importance can hardly be overstated. When it comes to big moments and big occasions, his departure will leave a void that even Darwin Nunez may struggle to fill.

Liverpool fixtures: Reds start at Fulham

The first round of 22/23 Premier League games
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The first round of 22/23 Premier League games

Liverpool begin the 2022/23 Premier League campaign with a lunchtime trip to newly-promoted Fulham on Saturday August 6.

This will be the fourth season in a row that Liverpool have started a new campaign against a newcomer to the Premier League.

But having next faced Crystal Palace, Jurgen Klopp’s side will face Man Utd at Old Trafford on August 20.

September will include away trips to Everton and Chelsea in September and Liverpool will also face back-to-back clashes against Arsenal and champions Man City on October 8 and 15 respectively.

Liverpool’s last game before the season’s temporary halt for the Winter World Cup will be against Southampton at Anfield on November 12 before returning to action at Aston Villa on Boxing Day.

The Reds then host rivals United on March 4, before awkward clashes on back-to-back weekends at City (April 1) and against Arsenal at Anfield (April 8), before ending the season at Southampton.

Follow the summer transfer window with Sky Sports

Who will be on the move this summer when the transfer window opens on June 10 and closes at 11 p.m. on September 1?

Keep up to date with all the latest transfer news and rumors in our dedicated Transfer Hub blog at Sky Sports’ digital platforms. You can also catch up on the ins, outs and analysis at Sky Sports News.

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