What must change for Sadio Mane to be a success at Bayern Munich has been detailed amid the signs pointing towards a potential early exit.
Mane left Liverpool in the summer after six sparkling years at Anfield. The Senegalese forward was an integral part of everything the Reds had done well in the Jurgen Klopp era.
However, it always appeared unlikely both he and Mohamed Salah would be offered bumper contract extensions.
Liverpool’s owners, FSG, operate with one eye on their wallets and giving lengthy extensions that included pay-rises to two forwards the wrong side of 30 was never going to happen.
Given left winger Luis Diaz arrived in January, the writing was on the wall for Mane. He ultimately joined Bayern for a fee potentiality rising to £35m on June 22.
Mane started brightly in Bavaria, notching three goals in his first three Bundealiga matches. However, his drop off in form has also coincided with Bayern’s since the hot start.
Mane has not scored or assisted in any of his last six. Over that span, Bayern have won twice in the Champions League, though picked up just three points from a possible 12 in the league.
Mane has operated primarily out of position at centre forward, though has played on the left wing too.
Manager Julian Nagelsmann appears unsure as to the make-up of his best front line and according to club legend Philipp Lahm, it is that uncertainty that is hampering Mane.
Speaking to Bild TV, Lahm insisted Mane’s qualities are not in doubt. However, unless the attacking roles are more clearly defined, Bayern run the risk of Mane being a flop.
Lahm on Bayern’s Sadio Mane problem
“His qualities are out of question,” said Lahm. “But it’s crucial that roles must be clearly assigned.
“I don’t see that at the moment. I currently don’t understand how the roles are defined.
“Everyone has to know what they have to do on the pitch.”
Lahm isn’t the only German observer to question what’s going on with Sadio Mane at Bayern.
Former Liverpool midfielder, Dietmar Hamann, said last week: “He is not integrated. I saw him at Liverpool where he played through the middle. That is not his position.
“Now he’s taking that position at Bayern as well. He is at his best when he comes from the outside. He doesn’t look happy to me.
“Other players like Leroy Sane, Jamal Musiala or, in defence, Lucas Hernandez, who is injured at the moment, are putting in outstanding performances.
“Nobody is talking about Mane at the moment. He seems isolated and hardly takes part in the game. FC Bayern has to get a grip on that.”
Bayern hunting a new centre forward
Players are never more vulnerable to being axed than when they’re aging. A poor run of form for someone in their early 20s is never treated in the same way as from someone the wrong side of 30.
Mane has played up front in all but one of his Bayern appearances thus far. The common consensus – despite encouraging displays there for Liverpool last season – is that position is a waste of his talents.
Mane was even benched for their Bundesliga clash against Stuttgart earlier in September. What’s more, transfer guru Fabrizio Romano recently insisted Bayern will sign a new striker in 2023.
When speaking about Bayern’s alleged interest in Harry Kane, Romano stated: “There have also been many rumours about Bayern. ”
“It’s true that in 2023 that they will go for a striker to replace Robert Lewandowski.”
The centre-forward position is currently Mane’s and if a high profile striker is brought in, he may no longer be assured of starts.
Bayern also have Leroy Sane, Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry for the wide berths. If they require a major name to move on to make way for a new striker, the signs are starting to point to it being Mane.