Sadio Mane has revealed he turned down the opportunity to sign for Manchester United in the summer of 2015 when Louis van Gaal was manager.
The Senegalese flyer was the subject of an approach from United in August 2015 – but he opted to stay at Southampton for one more season, citing the timing as not being right.
The extra year spent at Southampton provided 15 goals in 44 appearances at the south coast club before Liverpool came calling this summer.
And Mane has quickly established himself as one of Liverpool’s leading marksmen with three goals in six Premier League appearances.
The Senegal international was flattered by the interest from other clubs last summer but believes he made the right decision in waiting until Liverpool came calling this season.
“In honesty, there were some clubs interested at that time but I never made any choices then,” he told the Telegraph.
“I did not say I thought of any club and I wanted to play there. That kind of interest gave me a lot confidence on the pitch and made me believe in myself, but I knew this was because of my hard work and I was in a good way.
“In my head I thought I would be there a couple more years and prove something. I was convinced I still had to prove something, improve more and learn more before I moved to a bigger club.
“But then I knew when the right time was for me. The extra year helped me get better, and it is important for every player to go step by step.
“It was only when Liverpool came in [last summer] that I never had a second thought and knew I wanted to join. It was different because then was the right moment for me. I finally came to Liverpool and I was happy with that, and now I’m happy I am playing against Manchester United.”
Mane’s Klopp revelation
“Before I came here, I had the chance to meet him when he was at Borussia Dortmund,” he told BBC Sport.
“I was at Red Bull Salzburg and he tried to sign me – but it didn’t happen and that is football. He is a good manager and he is someone who likes his players.
“At the end of last season, he called me and told me he wanted me to come to Liverpool.
“I said straightaway that I want to come. It was the right time and right coach for me. I am very happy to be here.”