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Sadio the main Mane

Sadio Mane is the most expensive African footballer in history. Thankfully, Mane is not one of the big stars from Francophone West Africa who have opted to play for their adopted European countries, mostly France. But in a few months’ time, Mane might be caught up in a familiar row that has often stalked top European-based African footballers, the club versus country debate.



Liverpool stayed joint-top of the English Premier League with a workmanlike 4-2 win away to Crystal Palace at the weekend.

This was despite that one of their most exciting signings of recent seasons, Senegalese international Sadio Mane, was not among the scorers.

But to score four goals and not having one of your best players of the season not being on the scoresheet is a positive headache for Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp. What it abundantly shows is a potent attack for the Reds, a well-balanced side that could well see the men from the Merseyside win their first league title in 26 years.

Mane on the money


Mane, signed from Southampton for a record fee of £34 million at the beginning of the season, has justified every cent spent on him so far this season. He is most expensive African player in history.

A tricky, slippery winger who plays among Liverpool’s four-pronged attack, Mane is supposed to be one of the club’s creative hubs, yet he also chips in with important goals. His four goals so far this season have been crucial ones, and oozed quality too.

The 24-year-old is a marvel to watch. He is direct, and goes forward with purpose. He is a typical modern-day winger who operates from out wide but then moves inside from seemingly difficult angles – a constant nightmare for defenders.

Heading to the Afcon

Thankfully, Senegal, who Mane has played for 32 times, has qualified for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations. It will be hosted by Gabon beginning early January.

2017 Africa Cup of Nations finals groups Photo: CAF

2017 Africa Cup of Nations finals groups Photo: CAF

It means African football fans will watch of the genuine starts of world football at the moment. It’s a big coupe for the tournament.

Senegal will be happy that unlike many footballers born in that country, Mane did not take the French route and represented the former world and European champions.

At the time of his Senegal debut in 2012, Mane was living in France and playing top-flight side Mertz – which presented a French national team opportunity.

After Metz, Mane played for Red Bull Salzburg in Australia before moving over to the UK to join Southampton.

Club-versus-country row

But Liverpool have spent a lot of money on the player, and they want him to play in every game in their quest for silverware.


Losing him at a critical time of the season, in January, will likely reignite the club-versus-country debate.

It’s a headache for African football that has refused to go away.

Liverpool will be obliged to release him, but likely towards the beginning of the tournament. Of course, this will affect Senegal’s preparation in terms of team unity, gelling and combinations.

It also sends a kind of wrong message to the other players in the squad, who would have spent a much longer period of time together training in preparation of the tournament,

Hopefully, Senegal will handle this potential tricky situation with the professionalism befitting a side containing some of the finest African talent in world football today.


Sadio the man

Mane is one of a recent crop of African footballers groomed at schools of excellence across Africa.

His rough edges were smoothened at the at the Académie Génération Foot academy in his homeland.

He was born in the town of Sedhiou, where he kicked balls around in the street with his friends.

Niasse and Mane both hail from Senegal Photo: ANP/EPA/Armando Babani

Niasse and Mane both hail from Senegal Photo: ANP/EPA/Armando Babani

Mane’s talents on the football pitch were not replicated in class, which he often bunked, presumably to play football on his own or with other fellow truants.

But as a professional footballer he has managed to stay away from controversy so far in his career.


He is a man who lets his football make the news headlines.

But at the beginning of the season, reporters got wind that the wife of Everton striker Oumar Niasse invited Mane for dinner at the couple’s house in Merseyside.

Niasse and Mane both hail from Senegal, but what caused slight discomfort was that neighbouring clubs Everton and Liverpool are such big local rivals, and here were two opposing players supposedly exchanging notes.

At the dinner, Niasse’s wife probably served cheb, a popular dish in their native Senegal.

Cheb is based on fish but also contains red rice mixed with chunks of okra, cassava and yam.

Couscous Senegalese thièré with chicken and sauce (thièré/chere) Photo: Wiki commons

Couscous Senegalese thièré with chicken and sauce (thièré/chere) Photo: Wiki commons

Senegalese meal, cheb, is based on fish. It also contains red rice mixed with chunks of okra, cassava, and yam

A happy man and happy footballer who always seem to be having fun on the pitch, Mane is known for a stunt that has become a hit with Liverpool fans – copying the goal celebrations of his teammates. A team man in every aspect!

At 24, Mane is still mummy’s boy. She was the first person she called to break the news of his record Liverpool deal.