Sadio Mane’s exit was down to Jurgen Klopp, says former Liverpool midfielder

Bayern Munich forward Sadio Mane

Former Liverpool midfielder Salif Diao says Jurgen Klopp was a big factor in Sadio Mane’s decision to leave Anfield.

Mane left Merseyside for Bavaria in the summer in a £35m move, signing a three-year contract. The Senegal winger, who developed into a world-class talent at Liverpool, left with Premier League and Champions League medals.

In fact Mane was Jurgen Klopp’s first major signing from Southampton in 2016 and he went on to score 120 goals in 269 games.

The Reds tried to keep the player, who had one year left on his contract. But Mane opted to look for a “new challenge”. And Liverpool were left to try and fill the goalscoring void left behind.

But Diao feels Klopp played a part in Mane’s decision to leave a club where he was lauded for the last six years.

“I think he has been here for a couple of years and I think at some point he thought he did not have the love that he needed really, here at Anfield,” Diao told the Liverpool Echo.

“I’m not talking about the fans, for him I think it was more with the manager.

“Things weren’t really going on as they should be so that’s why he decided to go for a new challenge.

“I think as a top player, every time you stay four, five years at a top club, sometimes it’s good to go for a new challenge.”

Klopp has always insisted Mane’s departure was done respectfully.

Mane work-rate 

“Sadio told me and his agent told me that he was looking for a new challenge,” Klopp told Viaplay Football in July. “And if that happens early enough, like it was in this case, and if that happens in the right way and the player and the agent are working, and the new club where they want to go is ready for negotiations, then it should be like it was now.

“Then you say ‘thank you’ with the biggest respect ever…”

The German coach had already moved to replace Mane with the club-record signing of Uruguay striker Darwin Nunez from Benfica.

And Diao says Nunez needs time to adjust.

“Everyone knew it would be hard,” Diao said. “For any player coming in, it would be hard to take his place. I think people didn’t realise the hard work he has been doing here at Liverpool.

“It’s normal, he’s a top player. He’s been one of the best top three players. If not the best, over the past four years in the world. He’s proven on all levels. Of course it would be hard for any player to come in and fill his space. It’s going to take time.”