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Jurgen Klopp almost punched himself before apologizing to Sadio Mane in Liverpool transfer discussions

Jurgen Klopp almost punched himself before apologizing to Sadio Mane in Liverpool transfer discussions

Sadio Mane’s Liverpool career is coming to an end after the club reached a €41 million deal with Bayern Munich to sell the Senegalese earlier this week, with rumours in Germany stating he will have a medical on Tuesday.

Kopites will undoubtedly wave goodbye to the forward with a heavy heart, having seen him score 120 goals in six seasons on Merseyside, first propelling Liverpool back into the Champions League for the first time since 2009, before helping them win six trophies and be crowned champions of England, Europe, and the world.

With a year remaining on his contract and him being 30 years old, it was only a matter of time until the Reds had to face a future without the forward.

While he may have demonstrated in Bavaria that there was more juice to be squeezed from this famous union at Anfield, Liverpool executives will be consoled by the knowledge that they have enjoyed Mane’s peak years and are still selling him at a profit.

With Roberto Firmino already on their books, the Senegal international was the Reds’ second signing from Southampton in the summer of 2016. 

With the addition of Mohamed Salah the following year, Klopp assembled Europe’s strongest front line, which swept all before them.

Mane was Klopp’s first major signing at Anfield, brought in at the outset of the German’s first full season to convert doubters into believers.

And his desire to get the Senegalese from Southampton as he attempted to improve his attack stemmed from a prior transfer blunder that left the Liverpool manager confessing he could have punched himself.

Klopp has been following Mane’s career since his remarkable performance in the 2012 London Olympics.

As Borussia Dortmund manager, Klopp pondered signing Mane and even conducted negotiations with the then-RB Salzburg player about a possible move to the Westfalenstadion in 2014.

However, on this occasion, he concluded the player was not for him before quickly realising he had made a mistake.

“I made a mistake,” said Klopp. “We met each other, we talked but by the end I didn’t feel it. I like the player, it was more of a feeling.

“His baseball cap was askew, the blond streak he still has today. He looked like a rapper just starting out. I thought, ‘I don’t have time for this’. I’d say I have a pretty good feeling for people, but was I wrong!

“At Dortmund we could only get one player for this position, not two or three, so it needed to be exactly the right fit in this moment. About three months later I would have punched myself, so I already knew that the next chance I have, I would take it.

“It was a pretty simple decision with Sadio. When the club came this summer and Michael Edwards said we have an opportunity, there were no talks necessary any more. It was a case of ‘Let’s do it’.

“Since I came here I have spoken to the staff a lot about him and have always felt he could be a very good signing for us. 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. The more I think about it, that was my first Liverpool decision. Nice!”

Dortmund’s loss was Liverpool’s gain, as Klopp made certain he got his man in 2016, even stealing him from  the noses of  Manchester United. And when attempting to persuade the forward to join him at Anfield, the German would apologise to him in a private phone call.

“I have to say I was really close to going to Manchester United,” Mane admitted in an interview with the Telegraph last month when recalling his decision to join Liverpool. “I had the contract there. I had it all agreed. It was all ready.

“I still remember the first time I got the call from Klopp. I was watching TV. It was an action movie – because I love movies – and he said, ‘Sadio, listen, I want to explain to you what happened at Dortmund.’

“That was when he thought of signing me for Dortmund and for some reason it didn’t work out. He tried to explain and I said, “‘It’s okay, it happened.’ I forgave him. Then he said, ‘Now I want you at Liverpool.” And I said, “Okay, Dortmund is behind us, let’s focus on the future.’”

Eight years after his aborted trade to Dortmund, Mane is now getting a chance to play in the Bundesliga, but only after experiencing his prime years at Liverpool under Klopp.

And, while the German would undoubtedly like the forward to remain at Anfield this summer, he was able to rectify the wrong that had him wanting to punch himself all those years ago.


Jurgen Klopp almost punched himself before apologizing to Sadio Mane in Liverpool transfer discussions

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