Liverpool have been given new reason to fear Sadio Mane will leave for Real Madrid after a worrying claim made by his Senegal teammate Keita Balde.
Mane has been strongly linked with a summer switch to the Bernabeu after a superb season for the Reds, scoring 16 goals and adding eight assists in all competitions this season.
And with Liverpool continuing to be linked with moves for Germany forward Timo Werner and Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey, it would appear that they are preparing for the prospect that Real could come calling for Mane.
Now Balde, who plays with Mane in attack for Senegal and is good friends with the forward, believes Mane would be severely tempted by a move to the Bernabeu if Zinedine Zidane – a confirmed admirer of the Liverpool man – makes a concrete bid.
He told Spanish outlet AS: “It depends on many things. I don’t know what his decision is. In a year or two, you may want to change.
“I don’t think he wants to be there forever. He is a smart boy and he knows what is good for him and what he has to do. But in Madrid they are giving out many names.
“The coach loves him very much. He has given a lot to Liverpool and Liverpool to him.
“Something very attractive has to come for him to leave Liverpool. A big team would have to come and promise him many things to think about it.
“He’s a great boy. He deserves the best. He is humble and nobody has given him anything. He deserves to be where he is today.”
Mane, who signed a new deal at Liverpool worth £150,000 a week in November 2018, is thought to be happy at Liverpool and not seeking a transfer, though a hard pursuit from Real would give him something to seriously think about.
However, despite reports Real have already made a tentative approach, officials at Liverpool are reported to be nonplussed and not too alarmed by claims he could leave.
Hislop backs Mane sale
Former West Ham goalkeeper Shaka Hislop has explained why it would be a good deal for everyone if Mane was sold for a fee of £140m.
“I think you take [£140m],” Hislop told ESPN FC.
“And listen, if you pay £140m for Sadio Mane, I think it’s good business.
“I think he’s an incredible footballer and you understand why clubs like Real Madrid are interested and you understand why Liverpool continue to be linked with Timo Werner, given all of that.
Hislop also commented on the rumours of Mane not getting along with fellow Reds forward Mo Salah, adding: “Listen, strikers not seeing eye to eye, not being friendly off the pitch, is nothing new. Just look at Andy Cole and Teddy Sheringham.
“As long as they continue to produce on the park, that’s all that should matter to Jurgen Klopp and to Liverpool and they continue to do that.
“But if a bid that big comes in, yeah it makes it interesting.”
Hislop added: “I still feel that playing for Real Madrid, Real Madrid is still the biggest name in terms of who players want to play for in world football.
“I know this Real Madrid isn’t the Real Madrid of even two or three years ago, but I still feel it has that attraction.
“And if you’re Sadio Mane, as good as it’s been with Liverpool, they’ve won the Champions League, still don’t know what’s going to happen this season but let’s say you win the Premier League, and at your age late 20s Real Madrid comes calling, you understand why you’re prepared to walk away from Anfield.”