It’s quite incredible to think that just four years ago Sadio Mane was plying his trade in the Austrian first division. He’s experienced a meteoric rise since.
The Senegalese forward didn’t take long to make an impression upon moving to Southampton, attracting the attention of some of the Premier League’s finest clubs.
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Upon Mane’s arrival to the south coast, the forward was practically unknown and consequently, the signing went largely under the radar.
However, he made an incredible impression over two seasons with the Saints in a manner than many others have failed to achieve. Besides, it’s saying something when United and Liverpool are tripping over themselves for you.
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In 75 appearances for Southamtpon, Mane garnered an impressive 25 goals considering his often wide position.
Moreover, May 2015 saw the 24-year-old score the Premier League’s fastest ever hat trick. In an astonishing two minutes and 56 seconds, Mane rattled three past Aston Villa to beat Robbie Fowler’s previous long-standing record.
The continuation of this electric form in his second season eventually saw Jurgen Klopp come calling. This summer saw Mane move to Merseyside for a hearty fee of £32.5 million.
Many pundits and supporters alike thought this was a questionable buy with an inflated price tag. However, the forward has silenced his doubters with a superb start to life at Anfield and three goals to boot.
It has emerged though that Mane could have left Southampton a year earlier if he wanted to. Even at that early stage, big clubs were interested in snatching him from Ronald Koeman’s grasp.
For the first time, the Senegal international has shed light on that hectic transfer window and just why he maintained his loyalty. After all, its rather astonishing considering Manchester United were sniffing around.
According to the Telegraph, the 24-year-old stated: “Ronald Koeman was not happy with all the rumours because he wanted me to stay, but it was not too complicated because for me, also, it was not time to go.
“When I spoke to him I told him, ‘No problem, I will stay’. It was my decision. I wanted to stay at Southampton.
“I was patient because I remember after the first year [in England] I knew it was better to focus on Southampton. In my head I thought I would be there a couple more years and prove something.
“I was convinced I still had to prove something, improve more and learn more before I moved to a bigger club. But then I knew when the right time was for me. The extra year helped me get better, and it is important for every player to go step by step.
“It was only when Liverpool came in [last summer] that I never had a second thought and knew I wanted to join. It was different because then was the right moment for me. I finally came to Liverpool and I was happy with that, and now I’m happy I am playing against Manchester United.”
So, there you have it, Liverpool in 2016 proved a far more appetising proposition than Manchester United in 2015 for Mane. Given his start to the season, it proves a rather shrewd decision too.
Despite the allure of money and prestige, the forward sensibly gave himself an extra and crucial year of development at Southampton. It looks to have paid off.
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