Jurgen Klopp has admitted that missing out on the World Cup through injury was ‘brutal’ for former Liverpool star Sadio Mane.
Mane had looked set to lead Senegal into the tournament having won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2022. However, injury meant that the Bayern Munich man had to sit it out.
The problem during the winter was the start of a series of events that look set to end with Mane leaving Bayern this summer. And with his former player on the verge of an exit from Liverpool’s friendly opponents tomorrow, Klopp was asked about Mane in his pre-match press conference today.
“I don’t know what went wrong to be honest,” admitted the manager. “I think when Sadio left us, he left us on a high, in really good shape, world-class player without a shadow of a doubt.
“I think you can ask anybody in the club they’d say exactly that. But, new environment, new situation, new expectations maybe, you don’t know.
MORE LIVERPOOL STORIES
“I didn’t speak to Sadio about it. We had contact, but not in this kind of manner. Sometimes how it is in football, to fulfil your full potential everything has to fall into place. A bit of luck is helpful as well and it was obviously not the case. A lot of offside goals, then a bad injury, horrible moment, World Cup was gone.
“We knew that would have an influence because Sadio is a very proud man. That he couldn’t lead his team, his country to the World Cup was brutal for him, definitely.”
Mane heading for Bayern exit
According to journalist Fabrizio Romano, Mane’s move from Bayern to Saudi side Al Nassr is all but done.
There, the 31-year-old would join a handful of his former Liverpool teammates in the Saudi Pro League.
Roberto Firmino, Fabinho and Jordan Henderson are all set to ply their trade in the Middle East next season. After struggling since his £35m move to Bayern, maybe Sadio will benefit from having some good friends close by.
It’s probably incorrect to pin Mane’s struggles in Germany on his failure to make the World Cup last year. In truth, it wasn’t exactly going brilliantly for him before that.
But with Senegal arguably in their best shape ever ahead of the tournament, not having the chance to play in Qatar would have hurt Mane deeply.
Had he been still in familiar surroundings at Liverpool, maybe this wouldn’t have affected him quite so much.
Without the help of Klopp and his long-time teammates at Anfield though, Mane was never able to bounce back.
Let’s hope he can get back on track next season.