Sadio Mane’s career could have taken a very different path had Louis van Gaal got his way in January 2016.
The Dutch coach raised eyebrows when it was revealed - per the Daily Mail and others - that he’d identified the Senegal international, who was with Southampton at the time, as his number one transfer target.
Although Mane had performed well for the Saints since arriving from Red Bull Salzburg in 2014, many Manchester United fans weren’t convinced he possessed the quality required to become a star at Old Trafford.
They were being linked with world-class players like Gareth Bale, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo in the media, so news of Mane’s potential arrival left some United supporters feeling rather underwhelmed.
The Daily Mail reported at the time that Mane “would jump” at the chance to sign for the Red Devils. However, the move failed to materialise because Southampton made it clear they were not prepared to lose the African forward before the end of the 2015-16 season.
Mane eventually ended up at Liverpool
Six months later and Van Gaal had been sacked as Man Utd manager and replaced by Jose Mourinho.
Mane, meanwhile, ended up signing for United’s fierce rivals Liverpool in a deal worth £34 million, a fee which looks a relative bargain in hindsight but seemed a lot of money at the time.
How Man Utd fans reacted on Twitter
But how did Man Utd fans react on social media to the news that Mane had signed for Liverpool?
Well, it turns out quite a few of them were pretty delighted actually.
But now that Mane is widely regarded as one of the Premier League’s best attacking players following an excellent start to his Liverpool career, these tweets now look daft…
However, a few United fans saw it as a great deal
However, other United fans, in fairness to them, said at the time that Mane was a good signing for the Reds despite the large transfer fee…
Even some Liverpool fans weren't convinced
In fact, even some Liverpool fans at the time weren’t convinced that Mane was a decent value-for-money signing for the Reds…
It just goes to show that sometimes - just sometimes - highly-paid football managers really do know better than us fans.