Liverpool forward Sadio Mane has recalled how he nearly joined Manchester United from Southampton in 2016, before the Reds swooped in and secured his signature after a phone call with Jurgen Klopp.
The Senegalese attacker was hot property following two highly-succesful seasons at St Mary’s, garnering attention from some of the Premier League’s leading teams, not least Manchester United and Liverpool, both of whom were vying for his services.
Liverpool ultimately won the tug-of-war and Mane has since gone on to establish himself as one of the game’s most prolific inside forwards, starring this season as Klopp’s side secured two domestic cups and prepare for Saturday’s Champions League final against Real Madrid.
Since moving to Anfield, the 30-year-old has bagged 120 goals in 268 games across all competitions, contributing immensely to one of the most glittering eras in Liverpool’s history, which could culminate in a second Champions League win in just three seasons.
He has been the envy of the Premier League, but all eyes could have been on Old Trafford were it not for a career-defining call from Klopp that convinced the 89-capped Senegal international to snub the Red Devils in favour of moving to Merseyside.
Speaking to Jamie Carragher for The Telegraph, Mane said: “I have to say, I was really close to going to Manchester United. I had the contract there. I had it all agreed.
Liverpool vs Real Madrid betting tips from Squawka Bet
- Fabinho and Casemiro to make 8+ tackles between them @7/2 with Sky Bet
- Mohamed Salah to have 3 or more left footed shots on target @17/2 with Paddy Power
- Salah and Benzema to have 5+ shots on target between them @5/1 with Sky Bet
- Mohamed Salah to be named UEFA Man of the Match @7/2 with William Hill
- Vinicius Junior to provide an assist @21/5 with Bet UK
- Alexander-Arnold to assist 1 or more goals & have 1 or more shots on target from outside the box @11/1 with Betfair
18+ only. Please gamble responsibly. For more information, visit begambleaware.org. All odds and offers in this article are valid at time of publication.
“It was all ready, but instead I thought, ‘No, I want to go to Liverpool’. I was convinced to go with Klopp’s project. I still remember the first time I got the call from Klopp.
“I was watching TV. It was an action movie – because I love movies – and he said, ‘Sadio, listen, I want to explain to you what happened at Dortmund’.
“That was when he thought of signing me for Dortmund and for some reason it didn’t work out. He tried to explain and I said, ‘it’s okay, it happened’. I forgave him.
“Then he said, ‘now I want you at Liverpool’. And I said, ‘Okay, Dortmund is behind us, let’s focus on the future’.
“He said, ‘We have a big project at Liverpool and I want you to be part of it’. Then he asked what position I wanted, because he could see at Southampton I played on the right side and I used to play on the left.
“I said I prefer left, and then he said, ‘but Coutinho is on the left!’ So I said, never mind, I will play on the right. I could see myself in all the positions.”
As it transpired, Mane initially started out on the right for Liverpool in a terrifying trident that included Coutinho on the left and Roberto Firmino through the middle, before Mohamed Salah joined the following campaign and a frontline reshuffle took shape.
More Champions League content (18+ only, Ts&Cs apply):
- Champions League final betting offers: Latest free bets, price boosts & bonuses
- FansBet Champions League final offer (Bet £10 pre-match and get a free £5 in play)
- Liverpool v Real Madrid live streaming
- 888sport Champions League final offer (Get 10/1 on Liverpool or 20/1 on Real Madrid)
- Sky Bet Champions League final offer (Place any bet stake 5p or above, and get £30 in free bets)