It’s no surprise a manager wanted to talk up a current player, but Jurgen Klopp had some strong words about one of his most in-form attackers.
Following the 0-0 draw with Southampton, the Liverpool manager began to glow about winger Sadio Mane, whom he admitted to having met with while at Borussia Dortmund. Klopp decided to pass on the budding young Red Bull Salzburg, who eventually signed with Southampton in the summer of 2014.
The decision to let Mane go haunted the German, Klopp admitted. So much so, that it made him want to “punch myself.”
“With Sadio it was pretty simple because I made the mistake at Dortmund where I didn’t take him,” Klopp said. “We talked. I think everyone knows we met each other and by the end I didn’t feel [claps hands] this. Around about three months later I would have punched myself so I knew already that the next chance I had I would take it. So it was not difficult to take this decision, it was very easy.”
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Mane exploded at Southampton, needing no time at all to adjust to the Premier League style as he scored 25 goals and assisted 14 more in 75 appearances for the Saints. Ultimately, not signing Mane at Dortmund would ultimately benefit Klopp down the road.
“I think he would have been more expensive if we had taken him to Dortmund and then he had been sold to Liverpool, so all good for Liverpool!” Klopp admitted with a laugh. “My first Liverpool decision, the more I think about it, nice!”
Mane himself has previously authenticated this story, admitting back in October that he met with Dortmund ahead of his eventual move to Southampton. “Before I came here, I had the chance to meet him when he was at Borussia Dortmund,” the 24-year-old Senegal native told BBC Sport. “I was at Red Bull Salzburg and he tried to sign me – but it didn’t happen and that is football.”
This season has been a smashing success at Liverpool this season. In 11 Premier League matches, Mane has bagged six goals and two assists. According to Squawka statistics, he has completed 33 take-ons, good for eighth in the league, and he is the fourth-most fouled player in the Premier League thus far.
We’re just thankful this all worked out and Klopp didn’t end up ruining that beautiful mug of his.