Sadio Mane has well and truly become one of football’s global superstars since his move from Southampton to Liverpool in 2016, with the £34m paid by the Merseyside club now looking like a bargain from their perspective, but an awful deal from the Saints’ point of view.
Southampton originally signed the Senegalese winger from RB Salzburg in 2014 in a £10m deal, before selling him to Liverpool for £34m just two years later. Whilst that £24m profit might have seemed like a good deal at the time, his superb performances for the Reds in the five years since suggest that the Saints may well have been sold short.
During his time on the south coast, Mane contributed an impressive 25 goals and 14 assists in 75 appearances in all competitions, including the Premier League’s fastest ever hat-trick thanks to his treble in just two minutes and 56 seconds against Aston Villa – a record which is unlikely to be beaten.
However, his form has exploded since making the move to Anfield in the summer of 2016, as he has registered 93 goals and 41 assists in 211 appearances for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Success in the Champions League and the Premier League has also played a huge part in Mane’s value going through the roof, with Transfermarkt currently valuing the 29-year-old at £90m, a 265% increase on the £34m Liverpool paid for him.
Southampton are perhaps fortunate that Mane’s form this season has dwindled slightly, as he was valued at a remarkable £135m back in December 2019, before a drop in form and the financial impact of the current viral outbreak saw his value decrease.
Despite his, and Liverpool’s, poor run of form in the league since the turn of the year, there is no doubt that Mane is still one of the best players in the English top flight, so it is a shame that Southampton couldn’t keep hold of him for longer.
Speaking last season, Klopp suggested that he always knew Mane would prove to be worth the fee Liverpool paid, saying: “Maybe people thought ‘I am not sure he is worth it’, but we were 100% sure about him. Consistency was the key and absolutely now what he is doing and how he performs is consistent.
“The level he performs at is unbelievable. He helps us massively. He is a complete player, offensively and defensively he works hard, he is really quick.”
Perhaps that lack of consistency in his earlier Premier League career was why Liverpool were able to get him for a relatively low fee but, either way, you could definitely argue that the Saints were robbed in their negotiations for Mane when you consider his incredible rise since leaving the south coast in 2016.