Sadio Mane made the dream start to his Bayern Munich career, scoring less than five minutes into his debut with the German giants.
The Senegal international made the move to the Allianz Arena after making it clear to Liverpool bosses he had no intention of extending his contract at Anfield. Had Mane remained on Merseyside he would have been going into the final year of his deal, with the risk he would leave on a free.
That eventuality never came to pass with Kop bosses agreeing a fee which will see them pocket an initial £27.1million, with add-ons to bring the total transfer to more than £35m.
And just weeks after Mane signed on the dotted line, his standing as Bayern’s leading man was confirmed after Robert Lewandowski got his wish and joined Barcelona. Prior to his Camp Nou switch, there had been a feeling that Mane would occupy a spot on either wing, as he had done to great effect during his six years at Liverpool.
But with Lewandowski out of the way, Mane was deployed as a central striker on his Bayern debut, as they took on Wayne Rooney ’s DC United in the American capital. Just four minutes into the encounter Bayern were awarded a penalty with the 30-year-old quickly asserting himself, picking the ball up and firing the resulting spot-kick into the top corner.
Julian Nagelsmann will have been delighted by the immediate impact of his summer signing, having praised his selfless playing style and versatility. “Very [excited by the arrival of Mane]; right from the first conversation, he made a very selfless impression, which is extraordinary for a player with such a big name,” Nagelsmann said at Mane’s unveiling.
“He said, quite modestly, he can imagine himself in any position. It’s rare to experience that in a first conversation, that a player puts themselves completely at the service of the club and the coach. That made our urge to get the signing over the line even greater.”
As for Mane, he was confident that the right challenge came at the perfect time in his career: “Like I always say, my life is always about a challenge and when it came I said to the club that I want to leave, I want to go somewhere else to see a new challenge.
“It is not anything else, it is just a challenge because for me I want to always be challenging myself to get better and better.”
Liverpool moved quickly to replace the former Southampton star, bringing in Darwin Nunez from Benfica in what could become a club record deal. But unlike the man he has stepped in for, Nunez has struggled in his early showings, with Jurgen Klopp forced to defend the Uruguayan striker.
“I’m not worried at all,” Klopp said on the criticism of his new forward. “The general judgement [on Nunez] is absolutely nil interest [to us]. It will be like this, and we all know it.
“It’s kind of a game or a joke for some people to pick out some situations where a player’s not doing well. That’s only a game from [fans of] other clubs, which is normal.”