Liverpool fans should treat claims that Sadio Mane has a sour relationship with Jurgen Klopp after it was alleged the Senegal forward was left seething by his manager’s voting at the Ballon d’Or.
Mane has become one of European football’s deadliest forwards since moving to Anfield, including his contributions this season which have included numerous winning goals among his tally of 18.
A stunning 2019 saw him help Liverpool to a club-record haul of 97 Premier League points, their sixth Champions League crown and he featured in Senegal’s run to the Africa Cup of Nations final.
As such, he was named African Player of the Year and finished fourth in the running for the Ballon d’Or, behind Cristiano Ronaldo, Reds teammate Virgil van Dijk and Lionel Messi.
However, it was claimed by France Football that Klopp’s decision to publicly back Van Dijk for the award left Mane with a bitter taste and, as a result, has been looking to leave ever since.
And amid rumours he could be targeted by Real Madrid for a blockbuster summer move, former Senegal striker Diomansy Kamara claimed that Mane may only achieve one of football’s crowning achievements if he moves elsewhere.
“If Mane, one day wants to win the Ballon d’Or, he may have to leave Liverpool as the club are maybe not the best advocates for him, despite their outstanding performances,” Kamara told ESPN.
“He needs to continue on the road he’s going down, as he wasn’t too far from finishing on the podium, and even for me he maybe deserved to win it this year.
“Now he needs to continue to work, and maybe even change clubs, because we’ve seen that Liverpool don’t really play to Mane’s strengths and people gave their votes to Virgil van Dijk even though Mane and to a lesser extent Mohamed Salah were equally in the running.”
However, Mane just last month insisted he had a good relationship with Klopp and, speaking in the Liverpool FC magazine said he considers the German to be firm but fair.
“He is somebody that is full of life, he is somebody who makes us all responsible as players, which is very important for a player on the field,” said Mane.
“He is a coach who knows how to handle you off the field, too. Sometimes he can be hard with his players, but it’s for positive reasons and that’s helped us a lot on the field. It is quite impressive, in fact, if you got to know him to understand all of that.”
Naby Keita added: “Yes, and he will always defend his players because for him all the players are the same. There is no difference to him.
“He’s always there to explain things to you, such as if you haven’t played the best in a game, which is hard for coaches to do.
“But that’s a choice he has to make and it helps us fight harder on the training field to push hard so you can be playing at the weekend.
“He communicates with us all equally and that’s what I really like about him. During training he will stop you and give you advice and explanations.”
Mane to Real Madrid rumours
Rumours that Mane could look to leave Liverpool and join Real Madrid have been exasperated lately by claims made by one of his close friends in the game, Keita Balde, who reckons a switch to the Bernabeu would seriously tempt him.
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.