Sadio Mane Wins Another Title But Bayern Munich Just Raised Liverpool Transfer Question

Sadio Mane wins title with Bayern Munich but Ryan Gravenberch plot thickens amid Liverpool transfer interest

When Sadio Mane left Liverpool for Bayern Munich last summer, he would have been dreaming of winning further league titles in Bavaria. But not like this.

The Senegalese nearly helped fire the Reds to an unprecedented quadruple last season, with a domestic cup double at least ensuring he had won every major honour on offer to him before calling time on his Anfield career. Boasting 120 goals from 269 appearances, he is an undisputed Liverpool legend.

With Bayern Munich waving off a club legend of their own in Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona, the Bavarians wanted a marquee signing to replace the prolific Pole. Mane was that man.

The forward would start well at least, scoring on his debut in the DFL-Super Cup win over RB Leipzig before netting on his maiden Bundesliga outing against Eintracht Frankfurt. He would boast five goals from his first six appearances for Bayern, and 11 from his first 20 outings

Yet as the World Cup came into sight, he was already starting to find himself withdrawn early and in-and-out of the Bayern starting XI as they struggled to fit him into their side.

While he had predominantly been an electric left-winger for Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp had re-invented him as a central forward during his final months at Anfield, only for him to look like a square peg in a round hole when utilised in either role in Bavaria.

A leg injury would then rule Mane out of the World Cup as the forward required surgery, with the 31-year-old out of action until the end of February.

He has scored just once since his return, starting just six of Bayern’s 15 games during this period, while he would come under the spotlight further for an ugly dressing room confrontation with team-mate Leroy Sane last month following a 3-0 Champions League defeat at the hands of Manchester City.

Suspended for a Bundesliga clash with Hoffenheim after allegedly punching the German in the dressing room, it has since been reported that Mane has no future with Bayern.

Sky Germany report that new manager Thomas Tuchel wants to offload the forward, with a return to the Premier League, but not Liverpool, most likely due to his annual £17.4m salary.

Since that altercation, he has made six appearances. But he found himself discarded further for the decisive games in a nail-biting Bundesliga title-race.

Benched for a 6-0 victory over Schalke, only coming on in the 85th minute, he was then only brought on after Bayern found themselves 3-1 down at home to RB Leipzig in the 86th minute in the penultimate game of the season. Such a loss saw the Bavarians concede top spot to Borussia Dortmund, trailing their rivals by two points going into the final day.

As the footballing world watched on with interest, everybody wanted Dortmund to end Bayern’s decade-long dominance, having won the Bundesliga every season since 2012/13.

“Yeah – I’m not dead! I’m alive, of course [I’m following it],” Liverpool boss Klopp said on Friday when asked about his former side’s title-hopes. “I’m a bit nervous as well to be honest.

“I can say in this case that I would be happy if Dortmund wins against Mainz for once, no problem. It would have been a bit more tricky if Mainz had won their last game, then I think they would have had a chance to qualify for Europe but I think that’s off the table.

“Yes, I hope Dortmund will win. I think it’s been long enough. I know (manager) Edin (Terzic) very well, I know a lot of people very well at Dortmund. We were always in contact and we are now in contact.

“I know what it would mean to the city, and in general. I can imagine Bayern sees it differently, but it’s not fun if the same team always becomes the champion. And we all know Bayern will strike back next year anyway, so if there’s a gap they [Dortmund] have to run through it.

“I really hope [they do it]. There were ups and downs, but it looks like they can do it. But nobody thinks they did it already there.

“If I was in the chair it would be the most intense period of your life, the day before a game like this when everybody is planning the party and stuff like this, and you have to say, “Yeah, but don’t bother me with this”. It’s really tricky.

“So it’s a big one and I just hope they can get through it. It would be massive.”

Alas, on a rollercoaster final day, Klopp was left disappointed as his former side choked. And with the Bundesliga title up for grabs, Mane was left on the Bayern bench.

With Bayern needing to win away at Koln and hoping Dortmund dropped points to Mainz, Kingsley Coman fired them into an early lead. Meanwhile, BVB trailed 2-0 after just 24 minutes, and had even missed a penalty.

A late Dejan Ljubicic penalty for Koln offered Dortmund a reprieve, who had at least halved their own deficit. But Tuchel turned to his bench for a hero, for a player to score a goal that could win Bayern the league.

In the 85th minute he made what would prove to be a decisive change. Leaving Mane unused on the bench, the former Chelsea boss instead sent on fellow forward Jamal Musiala. A minute later, the youngster scored a Bundesliga-winning goal.

BVB would score a last-minute equaliser against Mainz, but it wasn’t enough. As another former Red, Emre Can, was left disappointed with Dortmund, Mane was celebrating with his own team-mates in Cologne.

The Koln supporters booed the Bayern players as they went up to receive their medals. Their feelings will be shared right across Germany. Meanwhile, despite his bit-part role, Mane led the celebrations once they got hold of the Bundesliga trophy, holding aloft the shield and leading his team-mates as he raced across to the celebrating away fans. Making the most of the experience ahead of moving on this summer, perhaps?

Scoring just seven goals from 25 Bundesliga appearances, they are the lowest returns of his career since his breakthrough campaign with Metz in 2011/12. Meanwhile, once a player who scored so many decisive goals for Liverpool on their way to Premier League glory in 2019/20, not one of Mane’s own strikes made any difference to Bayern’s results.

Facing an uncertain future in Munich, ultimately likely to move on, a penny for the 31-year-old’s thoughts after his first-season post-Liverpool.

Of course, the forward isn’t the only player in Germany facing an uncertain future. He wasn’t even the only star man left on the bench in a decisive final day in the Bundesliga.

Having missed Borussia Dortmund’s 3-0 win over FC Augsburg last weekend, which had put them in the driving seat for the title, with a knee injury, long-standing Liverpool target Jude Bellingham was left unused for BVB’s heartbreaking day. With the England international remaining unused despite his side’s need for the comeback of all comebacks, you can speculate whether he was actually fit enough to play.

It has been an incredible season for the 19-year-old though, despite this final day despair. Scoring 14 goals and registering seven assists from 42 appearances, he also shone for England at the World Cup. And he’s now reportedly set to leave Dortmund behind.

After Liverpool withdrew from the race to sign Bellingham last month, he is expected to sign for Real Madrid this summer. Reports claim personal terms have even already been agreed.

Yet could there be a twist in the midfielder’s future? Fans seemed to think he said ‘F**k the talk, I’m staying’ when celebrating scoring in a 6-0 victory over VfL Wolfsburg earlier this month. Meanwhile, who is to say what impact the final day of the Bundesliga could have on his decision.

On one hand, Dortmund’s loss makes an exit make even more sense, pushing Bellingham to leave in search of the silverware that is so hard to obtain in Germany with Bayern around. But having come so close to title glory, only for it to be snatched away in the final minutes of the season, will the teenager want to depart like this? Or will we be determined to put things right next season?

Liverpool might not be in the race anymore, but take nothing for granted. Kylian Mbappe had looked certain to sign for Real Madrid last season after all, only to agree an 11th hour contract extension.

The Reds’ decision to step back from pursuing Bellingham has seen them switch attentions to other targets, including Brighton & Hove Albion’s Alexis Mac Allister and Chelsea’s Mason Mount. Yet, this week we have seen Man City emerge as contenders for the Argentine, and Manchester United declared as the England international’s preferred destination.

But Liverpool remain interested in one of Mane’s team-mates, also, having failed to sign Ryan Gravenberch last summer.

Signing from Ajax in a £20m deal, the 21-year-old started for Bayern on the final day of the season against Koln. Yet he was withdrawn after 71 minutes. Making just his third Bundesliga start, you wonder whether Tuchel’s selection of the Dutchman was an effort to persuade him to stay put. It is a transfer question Liverpool may be left pondering.

Making 32 appearances in his first season in Germany, Gravenberch has started just six times and reportedly wants to leave the club as a result. It has been claimed that he has even asked to leave this summer, though Bayern are said to be insistent that he is not for sale.

But since when did we take Liverpool and Bayern Munich transfer speculation at face value? After all, in the case of both Thiago Alcantara in 2020 and Mane last summer, there were indications from club sources that those transfers would be difficult. Sure enough, both players eventually got their move.

The Reds might as well have Bayern on speed-dial at this rate if they do indeed look to make Gravenberch part of their midfield revamp this summer. Only time will tell if ‘not for sale’ really means not for sale.

So, now that the Bundesliga season has come to an end, Mane, Bellingham, and Gravenberch all face big summers and can start to address their futures. Uncertainty surrounds them for very different reasons with that final day perhaps hinting what lies in store for the trio.

Set to dominate the upcoming close-season transfer speculation, while not as dramatic as those final day title-winning scenes in Germany, those of a Liverpool persuasion will still be watching on with great interest to see what happens next to the trio.

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