LFC NEWS

Why signing Mane from Liverpool is such a statement of intent from Bayern Munich

the Athletic - Thu, 06/23/2022 - 05:15

The new man will not kick a ball in earnest for another six weeks but his arrival in Bavaria is already being debated as epoch-defining.

“Is Sadio Mane the biggest star to come to the Bundesliga in history?” asked Sky Germany.

You would expect the national TV rights holders for Germany’s top flight to serve up exactly that sort of breathless spin. Hyperbole aside, though, it’s impossible to overlook the momentous importance of Mane’s transfer from Liverpool for Bayern Munich’s self-esteem and sense of place.

You could see it in the giddy excitement on the faces of sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic, executive chair Oliver Kahn and president Herbert Hainer. You could feel it at any given moment during the one-hour press conference on Wednesday when the festive and immensely self-satisfied atmosphere was more reminiscent of a trophy presentation than the unveiling of a new player.

As far as the German champions were concerned, they had just won the next best thing to the Champions League: the signature of a superstar forward.

Bayern Munich (Left-right) Kahn, Mane, Hainer and Salihamidzic were all smiles at the Allianz Arena (Photo: S. Mellar/FC Bayern via Getty Images)

Mane will not just positively impact the goals and assists tallies but will strengthen the team’s mental fortitude and togetherness. He will also improve the public standing of the club hierarchy, enhance Julian Nagelsmann’s tactical options, provide restorative comfort against fears of a sustained sporting decline and amplify the league’s international visibility.

Anything else? No wonder Bayern think this guy can win the Ballon d’Or three times in a row.

“Sadio Mane is a world-class player who underlines FC Bayern’s gravitational pull and the appeal of the entire Bundesliga,” Hainer said jubilantly, spelling out a big chunk of the 30-year-old’s multi-faceted usefulness.

The cumulative effect of the Premier League’s dominance combined with the Bundesliga’s limited marketability, state-funded clubs, COVID-19 losses and a Bayern transfer strategy that has delivered a few too many misses in recent years had some worried the club might be forced to adopt the Borussia Dortmund strategy of buying future stars rather than top-shelf reinforcements.

Wednesday, by contrast, was “a show me the money” moment; a €41 million or £35 million (with add-ons) sign that spells out the club’s motto “Mia san Mia”/”we are who we are”.

By capturing one of the Premier League’s best-performing players, Bayern have convinced themselves — and, they hope, a few others — that they continue to be relevant. “We are proud to have signed him,” Salihamidzic said.

Mane, Bayern Munich Bayern thanked Mane for making his mind up quickly (Photo: S. Mellar/FC Bayern via Getty Images)

There are more practical considerations, too. The sporting director, and to a lesser extent his superior Kahn as well, were under intense pressure to reshape a side plagued by too much mediocrity beyond the starting XI. Mane, the first marquee signing of the post-Uli Hoeness/Karl-Heinz Rummenigge era, makes them both look a lot better than they did a few weeks ago, having presided over a demoralising Champions League quarter-final exit against Villarreal.

Salihamidzic pointedly thanked the player for making up his mind early on — “I could straight away see myself in that team and decided (to join them) straight away,” Mane said — and his agent Bjorn Bezemer for concluding business swiftly. Negotiations with Liverpool sporting director Julian Ward were described as “hard but fair”.

Having been booed by sections of the fans who blamed him for the awful denouement to the season a couple of weeks ago, Salihamidzic suddenly appears a lot more secure in his post. He has pulled off the triple haul of Ryan Gravenberch, Noussair Mazraoui (both from Ajax) and Mane for a very reasonable €60 million (£52 million), all in a very quick and relatively pain-free manner.

And there’s probably a bit of room on the balance sheet yet for one more midfield addition after the departure of Marc Roca (Leeds United) and Corentin Tolisso (end of contract). Nagelsmann would very much like to re-acquaint himself with RB Leipzig’s Konrad Laimer, for example.

Apart from the need to add depth, the bosses’ post-season analysis also unearthed attitudinal defects. “I said at the end of last season that we needed fresh blood and changes,” Kahn told reporters. “After a long run of success (and 10 championships in a row), some players relaxed. We needed to change the situation. That’s what we’ve achieved by signing Sadio Mane.

“I know what this kind of transfer does to a team, it lifts the level and the quality of everybody else. That’s why it’s so important to have such top players.”

Mane, the “mentality monster” as Salihamidzic called him, will put pressure on the somewhat inconsistent triumvirate of Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane and Kingsley Coman to up their game, while instantaneously furnishing Nagelsmann with possibilities for a more unpredictable set-up that breaks with the 4-2-3-1 of the last decade. Internally, there is talk of a shift to a Liverpool-inspired 4-3-3 as well as the manager’s preferred 3-4-3 formation coming to the fore.

Most intriguingly, Mane’s ability to play through the centre has made Bayern a lot more relaxed about the possibility of Robert Lewandowski upping sticks for Barcelona.

Officially, the Poland striker is still not for sale. Kahn emphasised the 33-year-old was under contract for another season and the club expected him to “turn up on the first day of training”.

The former Germany goalkeeper was not minded to repeat his more definitive mantra from May (“he has a contract and will fulfil it”) and instead claimed that Bayern were “currently not even thinking about” a future without Lewandowski.

Lewandowski Lewandowski’s future remains up in the air (Photo: Ronny Hartmann/AFP via Getty Images)

It is a somewhat implausible approach, though, given the centre-forward’s wantaway stance has been the No 1 talking point inside the dressing room for a couple of months. A source close to a veteran player told The Athletic the team expect Lewandowski to move on. Quite a few have grown a little tired of his public posturing, to say nothing of the return of his egotistical streak on the pitch.

Mane, by contrast, could not have been more humble on his second day in the Bavarian capital. Asked about his preferred position, he jokingly pointed at his new coach sitting in the auditorium: “This needs to be answered by the boss!” He declined to voice any preference for a particular shirt number (“not important to me”) and added that he would be happy to play “anywhere apart from goalkeeper or defence”, as long as it helped the team.

Mane, Bayern Munich Mane’s arrival makes Bayern relevant again (Photo: S. Mellar/FC Bayern via Getty Images)

In a meeting with Salihamidzic and technical director Marco Neppe at the player’s house, Nagelsmann had detailed his many possible roles in a variety of formations, which further suggests that Lewandowski is more likely to go than not. You do not really plan too much for contingencies when the most reliable goal-machine since Gerd Muller is around.

Losing Lewandowski will probably hurt the Bundesliga more than Bayern, especially after Erling Harland’s departure to Manchester City. Then again, big names leaving is something that the league has become accustomed to and, for once, the familiar pain will be offset by the novel sensation of a world-class performer coming in.

Only Bayern are strong enough to break the mould at that exalted level, which just goes to show the league’s enduring challenges. But a little bit of hype is surely better than none at all.

 (Design: Sam Richardson)

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Categories: LFC NEWS

Premier League five-a-side teams: who would you pick for your club?

the Athletic - Thu, 06/23/2022 - 05:10

Which players will “the streets never forget”?

Emile Smith Rowe?

Thiago?

Dan Burn?

We tasked our Premier League reporters with picking a five-a-side team from the club that they cover. There are some obvious picks — and some less obvious ones.

The rules

  • The ball is not allowed over head height
  • Slide tackles are forbidden
  • Each team must have a goalkeeper and they can’t come out of the area
  • Outfield players are not allowed in the area
  • They can score from anywhere outside the area

Here we go then. Please feel free to disagree wholeheartedly with their picks in the comments section…

Arsenal

Even though goalkeepers can’t come out of their box, their ability to distribute the ball effectively in tight spaces will be of crucial importance. With that in mind, Aaron Ramsdale makes for the obvious choice between the sticks for Arsenal.

The first outfield name on the teamsheet has to be Bukayo Saka. He is the ideal five-a-side player: two-footed, athletic, and brilliant when operating in tight spaces. If you’re going to include Saka, it’s tempting to put Emile Smith Rowe alongside him — having come through the academy together, they have a fantastic understanding. Both players bring creativity, work ethic and goals. They’re natural choices to storm up and down the flanks for our five-a-side team.

Smith Rowe, Arsenal Emile Smith Rowe should link up well with Bukayo Saka in Arsenal’s five-a-side team (Photo: David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

At the base, I’ll go for Thomas Partey. It’s tempting to include a defender like Ben White or Takehiro Tomiyasu, but Partey has ball-winning abilities as well as the ability to dribble through the most congested parts of any pitch. All those rondos during his football education in Spain will come in very handy here.

Then the team needs a spearhead — someone who can finish chances, but also tirelessly close down the opposition. I’ll go for Gabriel Martinelli — a tigerish predator who could seize on any loose ball.

James McNicholas

Aston Villa

The best five-a-side teams are fun, fluid and full of goals. It’s all about outscoring the opponents and Villa have four outfield players who could cause some serious damage in this format.

But I’m bottling it and instead of playing four forwards and a goalkeeper, I guessed this group will need Tyrone Mings somewhere along the way. So, for his blocks and speed over a short distance (plus he’s a handy dribbler when he gets going) he’ll sit in front of Emi Martinez. Pepe Reina would have got in if it was 2020.

Creating all the damage with their silky skills and quick feet will be Emi Buendia and Philippe Coutinho. Who cares if they can’t play together in 11-a-side? This is different. The South Americans will occupy so many opponents and it will be brilliant to watch. 

Philippe Coutinho is a tricky opponent for any side (Photo: Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images)

With space, freedom and endless goalscoring opportunities, Danny Ings is my man up top as he’s still a better finisher than Ollie Watkins.

Gregg Evans

Bournemouth

It would be difficult to look past Mark ‘El Pulpo’ Travers in goal. While ball-playing isn’t one of his strengths, he should still get by — especially if his cat-like reflexes keep the team out of trouble as they did last season.

For a defender, Lloyd Kelly looks more comfortable on the ball than some midfielders. His athleticism means he can cover the space to man the defence on his own and his knack for coolly winning the ball by brushing opponents off is even more of an asset in this format.

Lewis Cook is the perfect player to patrol the middle of the pitch. He plays like he has eyes on the back of his head, loves a tackle and his eye for a pass is unlike any other Bournemouth player. That kind of awareness is so valuable in the confines of a five-a-side cage. Combative, creative and has an eye for a screamer too. What’s not to like?

As the most skilful player in the team, Siriki Dembele gives the side its X factor. Stepovers, rabonas, nutmegs — he’s got it all and can use any wiggle of the right analog stick to bend markers to his will. Just pure “HOW HAS HE STILL GOT THE BALL?!” energy.

Finally, every team needs a marksman and Bournemouth don’t have to look very far to find theirs. Left foot, right foot, long-range finishes, solo goals, tapping home lovely passing moves, Dominic Solanke can do it all. The only slight trouble is where the rest of the goals will come from.

Ahmed Shooble

Brentford

David Raya is potentially the best-suited goalkeeper in the Premier League to five-a-side football. The Spain international is quick, extremely nimble and grew up playing futsal so passing the ball under pressure and through the lines comes naturally. 

We need to make some sacrifices to squeeze our best attacking talents into the side. Pontus Jansson or Rico Henry would have been reliable options at the back, but instead, Christian Norgaard, who normally plays in midfield, starts in defence. He attempted the most tackles and completed the fifth-highest amount of interceptions in the top-flight last season so should excel in his new role.

Christian Eriksen is our playmaker, because this fictional tournament takes place before his contract expires, and he will combine with Ivan Toney to devastating effect. As an added bonus, Toney is unafraid to throw his weight around which will be helpful on a tight pitch and deter opposition players from being too clever with their tricks.

CHRISTIAN-ERIKSEN-BRENTFORD-2 Christian Eriksen will add creativity to Brentford’s five-a-side team (Photo: Federico Maranesi/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The final spot comes down to the flip of a coin between Yoane Wissa and Bryan Mbeumo. They are both agile, tricky forwards who can wriggle between tight spaces and provide a special spark. Mbeumo’s work rate is superior, but Wissa is more efficient in front of goal so he gets the nod.

Jay Harris

Brighton

Unsurprisingly, I’ll start my five-a-side team with Robert Sanchez in goal. A commanding figure who wears the badge on his sleeve. It’s almost a shame he isn’t allowed outside the box or to slide tackle because he would definitely volunteer himself for a last-ditch-dodgy-slide attempt to stop the opposition scoring — his sending off against Newcastle comes to mind.

Choosing a defender is the hardest part considering the amount of talent Brighton have at the back. Difficult. But I’m going for perhaps the wildcard option of Joel Veltman. He can defend like a centre-back and run with the ball like a wing-back… and he scores goals. So I reckon he’s a good shout. 

No Brighton team is complete without the intelligence of Alexis Mac Allister, he’ll be the general playmaker of the team with secret weapon Moises Caicedo sitting behind the Argentinian.

Finally, the cherry on the top of the Brighton cake, Leandro Trossard will be up front. With his swift turns and long-range shots, he will be perfect for shooting along the ground outside the D. 

Dayna Richman

Chelsea 

This was harder than I thought. For starters, I’ve left out Chelsea’s first-choice goalkeeper Edouard Mendy! But I went for Kepa because as this is five-a-side, the keeper will see a lot of the ball and that is probably Mendy’s biggest weakness.

Thiago Silva was in to begin with and then I realised I had to find room for Reece James. He’s so strong, fast and comfortable in possession, he can be in charge at the back instead. 

You need two confident guys who are combative in the tackle close by to help out. That’s where Mateo Kovacic and Mason Mount come in. They’re faster than the ageing pair of Jorginho and N’Golo Kante and have more of an understanding with each other than Chelsea’s other attacking midfielders. Both can dribble and do fancy flicks going forward.

Kai Havertz doesn’t have much competition for the striker role. But his silky touch and movement is just what you want to outwit opposition defenders.   

Simon Johnson

Crystal Palace

Judging by how poor I’ve always been at it, five-a-side football is all about speed across short distances, skill and energy. With a dose of sound technique, close control and power thrown in.

So Wilfried Zaha walks into the Palace team, with Michael Olise and Eberechi Eze — both better at tracking back and contributing defensively than they once were, for all that I’m already pining for Conor Gallagher in this selection — flitting around the Ivorian.

Marc Guehi can be the defensive organiser, not least because he is so comfortable in possession.

I could have picked any of Palace’s three senior goalkeepers, but let’s go with young Joe Whitworth, usually with the under-23s, not least because he has already demonstrated how comfortable he is with the ball at his feet.

Dominic Fifield

Everton

Word doesn’t seem to have travelled much further than Goodison, but Jordan Pickford arguably had his best season yet in goal for Everton. I’m backing him to shine in this five-a-side team thanks to his quick reflexes and ability to build attacks.  

In front of him, I’ll go for Yerry Mina. The Colombian is Everton’s best defender when available; so commanding that he calms down everyone else around him. If only he could string a regular run of games together…  

This feels like an ideal environment for Alex Iwobi to showcase his skills. As a child, he grew up playing on the caged pitches of east London, looking to emulate his uncle Jay-Jay Okocha. His industry, quick footwork and ability to manipulate the ball in tight spaces would be invaluable here. 

Alex Iwobi and Dominic Calvert-Lewin would be surefire picks (Photo: Richard Sellers/PA Images via Getty Images)

Up front, I’ve paired Richarlison’s goalscoring instinct and grit with Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s hold-up play and ability to sniff out chances close to the area. A formidable duo, but can Everton keep hold of them this summer? 

I’m confident this side would improve on Everton’s 16th-place finish in the league last season. With Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole, Leighton Baines and Duncan Ferguson in the ranks, the coaching staff would field a decent team too. 

In fact, can I pick them instead?

Paddy Boyland

Fulham

If you’re not comfortable in possession, you aren’t getting in Marco Silva’s all-conquering Fulham side — you’re certainly not earning a spot in this five-man joga bonito extravaganza either.

Marek Rodak, a pillar of Fulham’s last two promotion-winning campaigns, gets the nod in goal. With his imposing frame, the Slovakian is capable of stunning reaction saves and is comfortable with the ball at his feet, not that it matters too much in this instance — all he will be doing is passing to Tosin Adarabioyo.

The towering centre-back carries out his defensive duties aggressively, as Silva demands of his defenders, and is capable of getting his side up the field quickly with his penchant for a marauding run — echoes of Joel Matip, perhaps.

Captain Tom Cairney may not be a permanent fixture in Fulham’s starting line-up anymore, but his composure, passing range and devilish left foot makes him a sure-fire figure in this side.

Welsh playmaker extraordinaire Harry Wilson takes up one of the two attacking berths. Like Cairney, his left foot is a thing of beauty, making him a goal threat from pretty much anywhere, while his intelligent movement and weight of pass are bound to bamboozle opponents.

Finally, Aleksandar Mitrovic will hopefully have the time to give Neeskens Kebano a lift to the cauldron that is this hypothetical 3G pitch. As dominant as the Serbian was last season, the ball not being allowed over head height takes away a key facet of his skill set and, while his link-up play improved significantly in Silva’s first season, what “Mitro” has in brutish brilliance, he lacks in agility and fluidity. Step forward Kebano, fresh off the back of his best season at Craven Cottage, to be the resident skillsman (not a word, but should be) of this side. Agile, pacy and direct — a nightmare for any defender hot-tailing after a long day at the office.

Rhodri Cannon

Leeds United

Illan Meslier is a big, big fella and five-a-side goals were not made for him but there’s no other goalkeeper you’re picking at Leeds United so the gloves are his.

We’ll have Kalvin Phillips for the defensive duties, which he can easily do on his own — assuming he has not left Elland Road by the time we kick off. Smash everyone, that sort of thing, and keep it simple.

We’ll want Raphinha (also transfer dependent) for his tricks and the ability to embarrass people, not to mention his quality in tight spaces. And speaking of quality in tight spaces, Joe Gelhardt gets the nod with instructions to serve up goals and assists like the one against Brighton last month. Gelhardt seems like the sort of player who scores about 10 in the average game of fives, a proper street footballer.

Sanchez Brighton Leeds Gelhardt gets a shot away against Brighton (Photo: Alex Dodd – CameraSport via Getty Images)

And last but not least, Mateusz Klich. Okay, we haven’t seen peak Klich for a good while now but short passes and quick interplay are his strengths and like Raphinha and Gelhardt, he can also cope without acres of room to work in — a handy trait in cage football.

Phil Hay

Leicester 

No head heights, so no set pieces — which means Leicester could excel at The Athletic’s five-a-side. 

The keeper would be a given for me. Kasper Schmeichel, for his shot-stopping abilities.

In front, I would go for athleticism and versatility, so James Justin gets the nod at the back, although Wesley Fofana and Ricardo Pereira would be good shouts as well. 

In midfield it would have to be the guile of James Maddison — City’s master of the nutmeg — teamed with the industry and power of Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall, and in attack the evergreen Jamie Vardy. Although he is a penalty-box striker, and he can’t go inside the box in our rules, his finishing is still so cool and clever. 

Rob Tanner

Liverpool

Alisson, who grew up playing futsal, is the goalkeeper. If he fancies a run outfield donning a slick hairstyle I’m letting him. He picks himself. So does Trent Alexander-Arnold. There’s no one quite like West Derby’s finest.

And who wouldn’t want Thiago in their five-a-side team? He would be doing some ridiculous flicks and tricks melting the heads of the opposition. Luis Diaz would be doing the same. He’s in the team because he likes to beat you and then go back and beat you again. He’s punishing and so is Mohamed Salah, cutting in on his left and curving his shot into the corner.

Thiago would be a joy to watch on any five-a-side pitch (Photo: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

Can we have substitutions please? Because Roberto Firmino is desperate to get off the bench and do some no-look genius.

Caoimhe O’Neill

Manchester City

You’d surely struggle to find a group of players better suited to five-a-side than Manchester City. Their players live in a rondo, and could ping it about in small spaces better than anybody. So the difficulty here became selecting the most suitable in a squad full of prime candidates.

Ederson is obvious in goal because he could easily score if he wanted to, and his passing is just about as good as anybody. In defence, you could have John Stones, Aymeric Laporte or Oleksandr Zinchenko but Rodri surely has enough defensive instincts to get by and his passing is truly top-tier.

With Bernardo Silva, you’ve then got a wonderfully gifted technician who can move the ball in tight spaces but also beat a man, cover lots of ground and score goals. It was very tempting to pair him with Phil Foden, who’s exactly the same, but what do you do about the rampaging brilliance of Kevin De Bruyne?

And let’s go with Erling Haaland because the idea is simply hilarious (we were also able to twist some arms at the Premier League to register him before July 1). Julian Alvarez could be a decent contender one day, as he’s more of a technician and he knows where the goal is, but you’ve got to go for Haaland. Imagine him banging the goals in.

Sam Lee

Manchester United

I’m writing this with the additional rule that this team is playing in a cage/enclosed pitch so you can kick the ball off the walls. 

David de Gea has weaknesses to his game that will thankfully be covered up with these mandates, so he gets the nod in goal here. Harry Maguire is a physical, ball-carrying centre-back who will do much of the talking for this team. You can practically hear him yell, “I’ve got two here!” as he retreats to deal with a counter. 

Last summer, Jadon Sancho said, “Street football is about the megs and all that, so you want to violate a couple man”, so he’s going straight into the team. Marcus Rashford was in the top five for nutmegs in Europe in 2020-21 along with Sancho, so in he goes too.

Up top is Cristiano Ronaldo. The directive for this team is “badding people up”, as Sancho once said. 

Carl Anka

Newcastle United

If Bruno Guimaraes and Allan Saint-Maximin are thrilling to watch in the 11-a-side format, imagine how exhilarating the pair of them would be on the smaller courts that shaped them as youngsters?

Guimaraes learned his craft playing futsal, which is where he developed his trademark flick control, while Saint-Maximin honed his stepovers and flamboyant skills in the caged courts of Meudon in Paris. In truth, across the entire Premier League, Newcastle probably possess two of the players most ideally suited to five-a-side football.

Saint-Maximin Newcastle puzzle Allan Saint-Maximin’s skills are perfectly suited for five-a-side (Photo: Getty Images)

To add end product to the beautiful and explosive build-up play, Callum Wilson, Newcastle’s top-scorer, is a shoo-in up top. Then, in goal, Martin Dubravka maintains his No 1 berth, mainly because of his consistency and the paucity of alternatives. I did consider fielding Jonjo Shelvey as a makeshift goalkeeper, just so he could display some of his magnificent passing range from inside his own D, but I don’t think he’d be best pleased with that suggestion…

For the final spot, I had to go for a defender. Kieran Trippier as captain was given serious consideration, but the head-height rule means he can’t whip crosses in and acted against him, and Fabian Schar’s footballing skills were close to getting him the nod. However, Big Dan Burn, who somewhat surprisingly won national futsal tournaments as a teenager, can use his enormous frame to stride up and down the pitch and lead this exciting side to Premier League five-a-side glory.

Chris Waugh

Nottingham Forest

Another reason to want the master of shithousery, Brice Samba, to remain at Nottingham Forest would be to have him in goal. A great shot-stopper but he would also talk the opposition into submission — or just a blind fury.

As a defender, let’s make a Steve Cooper-style big call and leave out Joe Worrall in favour of Scott McKenna who, while not quite yet the new Des Walker, has taken over his chant. It’s a long way round him and he can play.

Ryan Yates would launch you in the air, but be polite enough to pick you up and apologise. Before doing it again seconds later. More energy than a six-year-old full of cola. Cafu alongside him in midfield, just because his love for the game is so infectious. And his goal celebrations at Powerleague would be just as joyous as they were at Swansea.

Brennan Johnson would just be the so-and-so who everyone would try to kick, but would repeatedly stick it in the top corner, regardless.

Paul Taylor

Southampton

Fraser Forster would have been my first choice, given he has a tendency in certain matches (I’m looking at your turf, Arsenal) where he just seems to sprawl every flailing limb successfully. Alas, he isn’t here anymore so I’ll go with Gavin Bazunu, whose athleticism prevails over Alex McCarthy.

I need an all-encompassing defender capable of dealing with counters (yes, they do exist in five-a-side) and can play out under pressure. Mohammed Salisu, providing he’s at his best, gets the nod.

This may surprise you but Oriol Romeu will anchor my midfield. He’s been slowly improving his ball progression but he’s not here for that. Not only is he a very nice man, who will probably pay the subs, he’s more press resistant than James Ward-Prowse and when spaces on the pitch are small, he covers them excellently.

Southampton, West Ham Oriol Romeu will form part of Southampton’s midfield (Photo: JOHN SIBLEY/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Kyle Walker-Peters, the jinky, elusive dribbler, will work alongside Romeu. Ralph Hasenhuttl has used Walker-Peters in varying midfield roles intermittently, noting his inherent ability to work between opposition lines. This may be a slightly defensive lineup on paper, but Walker-Peters was arguably Southampton’s most incisive attacking outlet last season.

The shootaholic Adam Armstrong will lead the line. His first season at Southampton was lukewarm at best, but his shoot-on-sight style and quickened step pattern around the box — he does a little two-step shuffle if you watch closely — may work well.

Jacob Tanswell

Tottenham

Given goalkeepers can’t come out, I’ll avoid the temptation to select five outfielders. So, in goal it’s Hugo Lloris who, to be fair would be extremely useful in a cage with his laser-sharp reflexes. 

My defender would be Cristian Romero who, let’s face it, would be absolutely terrifying in that kind of confined environment. Can you imagine chasing a ball into a corner with him?! No chance he would respect the “unwritten rule” and allow you to back out if you got there first. 

Next up would be my wildcard pick Tanguy Ndombele. Yes, he might start flagging in the second half of games but his skill and close control in tight areas would be absolutely mesmerising. Having someone who can take out opposition players from a standing start is invaluable in fives, and so I’m giving a lifeline to the Spurs outcast. 

Tanguy Ndombele’s skill and close control in tight areas would be suited to the small-sided games (Photo: Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

My final two picks would be Harry Kane and Son Heung-min. Kane would be invaluable, not only because of his goals and assists, but the fact that if he wanted to he could play in pretty much every position. Even if Lloris gets injured, Kane has gone in goal for Tottenham before and you know would back himself to give it a go again. 

Then there’s Son, whose two-footedness and ability to whip a ball into the corner from outside the box (no going inside the area, remember) would give this team an even greater threat. 

I’ve talked myself into the idea that this team would be essentially unbeatable. Especially with Dejan Kulusevski as first reserve in case anyone’s running late after work and can’t make kick-off. 

Charlie Eccleshare 

West Ham

Alphonse Areola would have got the nod over Lukasz Fabianski had West Ham completed his signing before the deadline for this piece. Fabianski nonetheless is still a good option with reflexes one of his strengths. 

For a five-a-side game I need a defender who will have no issues tackling opposition players to throw them off their game. Kurt Zouma is perfect for this but honourable mention to Craig Dawson who narrowly misses out.

In colloquial terms, I need players who have “tekkers”. With it being a small-sided affair Declan Rice, Said Benrahma and Jarrod Bowen complete my team. Rice has the ability to dictate the tempo, Benrahma is capable of providing assists, scoring and humiliating the opposition, while in school terms Bowen is that kid on the playground who always gets picked first for games like these.

There is experience, flair and leadership in my team. We are massive, now can someone give us directions for where we collect our trophy? 

Roshane Thomas

Wolves

Given that Wolves have an international futsal player in their ranks, the first name on the teamsheet is clear. With apologies to Conor Coady, Max Kilman is in as captain, ball-playing defender and the voice of experience when it comes to competitive, small-sided football.

Jose Sa is the clear choice in goal where, with keepers banned from leaving their penalty areas, the game will be all about shot-stopping —  the area where last season’s player of the year is especially adept.

And then three attacking players are needed, two of whom are no-brainers.

Joao Moutinho and Ruben Neves are top-quality performers who could pass opponents off the pitch as well as chipping in with goals, and they are on the same wavelength too.

While it is tempting to add a No 9 as the attacking spearhead, physicality is less of an issue here so Pedro Neto gets the nod for his individual flair as his eye for goal.

Steve Madeley

Who do you think is winning the five-a-side Premier League then?

Let us know in the comments below…

(Photos: Getty Images; design: Sam Richardson)

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FSG can deploy Liverpool transfer trick again for ideal striker following Erling Haaland trend

Liverpool.com - Thu, 06/23/2022 - 03:00

Liverpool's relationship with Red Bull is now well-cemented and well-documented.

While two players who were developed in the Red Bull school are on their way out of Anfield this summer in Sadio Mané and Takumi Minamino, two still remain thanks to Naby Keïta and Ibrahima Konaté.

In total, Liverpool have conducted five transfer deals with Red Bull in the past decade — the most of any entity outside of England. Three of those deals have come in the last three seasons.

The relationship transcends transfer deals. Two seasons ago, Red Bull Salzburg welcomed Liverpool during pre-season. This summer it will be RB Leipzig's turn to host the Reds and highlight the mutual friendship between the two sides.

READ MORE: Raheem Sterling could lead Liverpool to next transfer as Jürgen Klopp has pick of £127.6m duo

READ MORE: Julian Ward continues Liverpool trend that could gain FSG millions after Calvin Ramsay transfer

There is a lot of synergy between the two sides in their style of play too, from the heavy metal gegenpressing football to their models off the pitch in terms of player recruitment. This is why it is no surprise Liverpool have enjoyed purchasing players from Leipzig and Salzburg so frequently in the past few years.

Even now, the club continue to monitor players such as Dominik Szoboszlai, Benjamin Šeško, Joško Gvardiol, Christopher Nkunku, Luka Sučić and Konrad Laimer, all of whom have been linked with a move to Anfield in the past few seasons.

But FSG and Julian Ward may add another name to that list next season following the arrival of an exciting forward at Salzburg: Karim Konaté.

The 18-year-old forward will join the club from Ivory Coast's renowned ASEC Mimosas after scoring 10 goals in 12 appearances for the club at CAF Confederation Cup and the CAF Champions League last season.

A quick and pacey forward with a potent finishing ability, Konaté also has five caps under his belt for Ivory Coast at senior level. He could be the finest player produced in the country since Yaya Touré, who also first started his career at ASEC Mimosas.

Known for his energy and work-rate, Konaté should have no problems settling into life at Salzburg. With the club possessing a track record of producing prolific and exciting forwards, from Erling Haaland to Patson Daka to Karim Adeyemi, Konaté could be the next in the production line for the Red Bull club.

If that is the case, Liverpool scouts should keep an eye on the exciting teenager, who will be one to watch in the coming season. He could well be the break-out forward at Salzburg alongside Benjamin Šeško next season given his exciting credentials at ASEC Mimosas. And at Anfield, maybe there could one day be a new chant: we all dream of a team of Konatés.

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Raheem Sterling could lead Liverpool to next transfer as Jürgen Klopp has pick of £127.6m duo

Liverpool.com - Thu, 06/23/2022 - 01:00

Jürgen Klopp knows that squad depth is a double-edged sword. It allowed Liverpool to compete on four fronts last season, winning two trophies. But it also proved impossible to keep everyone satisfied: the manager spoke of having to keep ‘Ferraris in the garage’. With Takumi Minamino joining Divock Origi in departing the club this summer, it is clear that this was not sustainable.

It was perhaps no coincidence that Liverpool faced off against Chelsea in both of those domestic cup final triumphs. Thomas Tuchel runs Klopp close when it comes to depth, particularly in attacking areas. And yet under new owner Todd Boehly, the London club reportedly want to swell the ranks further, with Raheem Sterling a major transfer target.

There are plenty of reasons that the deal would make sense. For Boehly, it would be a nice little coup as his first signing at the helm, lifting an elite player from a direct league rival. Sterling is also not only homegrown but a London native, adding to the appeal. With only a year left on his Manchester City contract, even the transfer fee should not prove to be too steep — the wages would more than likely preclude Liverpool from considering a shock reunion, but Chelsea routinely stomach such outlays.

But Sterling, who has struggled to become the main man at Man City, would be walking into a similar situation at Chelsea as things stand. The former Liverpool youngster would expect to start most weeks, but there would be no shortage of competition if he did go off the boil: the likes of Christian Pulisic and Timo Werner were both sizeable recent investments in their own right, and are fighting for spots on the wing.

READ MORE: Julian Ward continues Liverpool trend that could gain FSG millions after Calvin Ramsay transfer

READ MORE: Michael Edwards transfer plan is still paying huge dividends as Liverpool could net further £21m

Then there is Callum Hudson-Odoi, the academy prospect whose first-team status has waxed and waned over the past few seasons. Injuries have not been kind, but even since his latest return he has found himself more on the periphery than he would like. Nonetheless, his talent is indisputable.

Were Sterling to be added to the mix at Stamford Bridge, it seems clear that at least one of these attackers would have to go. Otherwise, Tuchel would not be able to balance the interests of the potential new signing with those of the existing crop, and Chelsea’s assets would simply depreciate until they were finally granted a cut-price move, or else ran down their contracts. For a club heavily reliant on player sales, this could not be allowed to happen.

This is where Klopp could come in. Werner has been of interest to Liverpool before, but the team has likely evolved beyond him. The addition of Darwin Núñez was the final nail in this coffin. However, while there may not be a gap for a striker-turned-winger, FSG could still do with another out-and-out wide player.

Like Werner, Pulisic is a player who has been on the Liverpool radar in the past. This is hardly surprising: the USA poster boy has obvious appeal to FSG (although by the same token, Boehly will want to hold onto him). Then there is the Klopp link — he left Borussia Dortmund shortly before the young winger arrived, but the manager will have kept a close eye on his progress at his former club.

Ultimately joining Chelsea for £57.6m in January 2019 (with a six-month loan back to Dortmund), Pulisic has blown hot and cold. But he has not exactly been given the environment in which to thrive. A tally of six Premier League goals and two assists last season looks poor, but Tuchel only gave him the equivalent of just under 13 full games in terms of minutes played.

Even as a squad player, he would probably get more time than that at Liverpool. Then there would be the prospect of eventually taking up a slot in the long-term front three, with an obvious gap set to open up should Mohamed Salah not renew his deal. Pulisic prefers the left flank, but has experience across the front line. Still just 23, he could be moulded into the role Klopp wants him to play.

Already, he has plenty of the right qualities. A voracious presser and not overly reliant on his stronger foot, it does not take a huge stretch of the imagination to see him slotting into the front line. If Sterling starts a domino effect, Pulisic could be a shrewd acquisition.

Then there is Hudson-Odoi. The only one of the Chelsea trio never to have been heavily linked to Liverpool, he is nonetheless an interesting prospect. There is a reason Bayern Munich lodged a £70m bid in 2020.

Of the £121.6m duo, Pulisic is perhaps the more obvious fit for Liverpool. And Hudson-Odoi’s price has undoubtedly come down a lot since that Bayern bid, with injuries and stop-start form significantly reducing his value. But he is still only 21 years old: the raw potential is clear, and Klopp could well be tempted to work with it.

The one major stumbling block is that Liverpool are supposedly done with their summer business. But FSG have always been open to an opportunistic move: if Chelsea pounce for Sterling, Klopp could in turn be treated to an extra exciting attacker. With Origi and Minamino gone and Salah’s future uncertain, another ‘Ferrari’ might not be the worst idea.

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Julian Ward continues Liverpool trend that could gain FSG millions after Calvin Ramsay transfer

Liverpool.com - Wed, 06/22/2022 - 22:00

One area where Liverpool have often lacked depth for many years is at right-back.

For years, Liverpool struggled to find an adequate right-back in the first team squad. But Trent Alexander-Arnold's breakthrough under Jürgen Klopp changed all of that. The Liverpool-born academy graduate has not only made the role his own, but he has also established himself as one of the best players in his position on the entire planet.

Now, Liverpool have gone one step further by securing the services of exciting Scottish youth international, Calvin Ramsay, who sees Alexander-Arnold as a role model. At 18 years of age, he will provide backup to the 23-year-old for the coming season.

Ramsay's arrival is another step in the right direction, and one that is once again building a team for the future at Anfield. In years to come, Ramsay could even potentially succeed Alexander-Arnold in the right-back position should his development continue on the same trajectory.

READ MORE: Michael Edwards transfer plan is still paying huge dividends as Liverpool could net further £21m

READ MORE: Liverpool have seen off Man City transfer threat for 12 months as Jürgen Klopp promise accepted

One person who has also felt the repercussions of Ramsay's deal at Liverpool will be Conor Bradley. The equally-talented Northern Irish international caught the eye in glimpses for the club's first team last season, even registering an assist in the FA Cup, as well as making 10 goal contributions in 20 Premier League 2 games from right-back.

Pacey and direct, Bradley is a player with a high ceiling, but Ramsay's arrival will have scuppered his progression at Liverpool. For now, the Reds regard Ramsay as the player who possesses slightly more potential.

As a result, Bradley has been sent out on loan to Bolton Wanderers in League One ahead of the new season, where he will continue his development and hopefully play regular football at senior level.

The move is a smart one for all parties involved. Bolton play exciting attacking football that could suit someone like Bradley who loves to bomb forward from right back. Meanwhile, in Bradley, Bolton will be getting a player who is already an international football and who was one of the best academy prospects at academy level for Liverpool last season.

This kind of loan deal was what Michael Edwards was renowned for during his time at Anfield. Edwards always seemed to have a knack for finding the right club for Liverpool's youngsters to develop and flourish at. Now, it seems like Ward could be continuing the trend — no real surprise, considering that this was initially his primary remit as the loan and pathways manager.

The upshot is that Bradley could very easily increase his price tag over the next season. Even if he does not make the grade at Liverpool, a scenario that looks likelier with Ramsay to compete with as well as Alexander-Arnold, he will add a few extra million pounds to his sale value for FSG. With Ward set to be broadly reliant on money from sales, just as his predecessor was, every little helps.

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Too good to be No. 2? – Caoimhin Kelleher faces a pivotal summer at Liverpool

ThisIsAnfield.com - Wed, 06/22/2022 - 18:00
After a milestone campaign for Caoimhin Kelleher for Liverpool, the competition he faces for both club and country puts him in a difficult position this summer, writes Kevin Coleman.

When you think of Liverpool’s transfer strategy, you think of a well-oiled machine that has been honed to precision after years of tinkering from Jurgen Klopp, Michael Edwards and their team of scouts and analysts.

Everything is methodical, targets are identified, departing players are placed delicately in shop windows and usually, before the dust has even settled on the prior season, business is done and boxed off just in time for a relaxing couple of weeks on the beach, with any anxiety over transfer windows and deadline days a non-factor.

When Liverpool wrapped up the additions of Darwin Nunez and Calvin Ramsay, there was a suggestion that that should be it for the club this summer, with any more movements going in the opposite direction with Sadio Mane to complete his move to Bayern Munich and the likes of Neco Williams and Takumi Minamino expected to leave.

 Liverpool's Director of Football Michael Edwards (R), Chief Scout Barry Hunter (M) and Sporting Director Julian Ward (L) during a training session at the AXA Training Centre ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final game between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid CF. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's Director of Football Michael Edwards (R), Chief Scout Barry Hunter (M) and Sporting Director Julian Ward (L) during a training session at the AXA Training Centre ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final game between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid CF. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This, clearly, doesn’t suit the transfer gossip column agenda, with Liverpool being an ultra-popular namecheck for any player on the market.

They do, after all, desire a central midfielder, and despite reports that Jude Bellingham is the aim for 12 months’ time, expect plenty of Twitter ITKs and gossip columns to dedicate inches to potential Liverpool additions.

Having said that, if you were to take the reports at face value and Liverpool are considering this business done for this summer, it does paint an interesting picture for the goalkeeping stable at the club.

In safe hands

 Liverpool’s goalkeeper Andy Lonergan, goalkeeper Adrián San Miguel del Castillo, goalkeeper Alisson Becker, goalkeeping coach John Achterberg and goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher celebrate with the Premier League trophy as the Reds are crowned Champions after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. Liverpool won 5-3. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool’s goalkeeper Andy Lonergan, goalkeeper Adrián San Miguel del Castillo, goalkeeper Alisson Becker, goalkeeping coach John Achterberg and goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher celebrate with the Premier League trophy as the Reds are crowned Champions after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. Liverpool won 5-3. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The goalkeeper position itself is in relatively rude health.

Alisson is in the top tier of goalkeepers in the world and isn’t going anywhere any time soon, coming off arguably his best season to date – or certainly on the shortlist for Liverpool’s best and most valuable performer over the course of the campaign.

Adrian is a respectable No. 3 and seems to be relishing the role as the glue-guy, keeping everybody together and offering friendship and advice to players around the camp.

Although his playing time has been curtailed, he’s often seen in the background with his arm around the shoulders of team-mates and whispering words of encouragement in their ears.

This is evident by his contract extensions and although his playing time is almost zero given the rise of Caoimhin Kelleher, his off-the-field intangibles seem to be offering plenty of positivity to the squad.

And that does take us to Kelleher, who is coming off an incredible season playing second fiddle to Alisson.

Kelleher’s rise and role

Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher was the hero (Nick Potts/PA)

Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher was the hero (Nick Potts/PA)

When it was mooted that Liverpool’s summer transfer business was complete, it put an interesting spin on Kelleher’s role looking ahead to next season, suggesting that he will continue as the backup to Alisson and won’t be positioned for a loan spell elsewhere, as had been proposed regularly over the last 18 months or so.

Perhaps Klopp and Co. see Adrian capable of slotting back into No. 2 in the pecking order and playing some League Cup minutes, or that perhaps Brazilian youngster Marcelo Pitaluga could step up and emulate Kelleher’s rise into the first-team ranks.

Loanees Vitezslav Jaros, Jakub Ojrzynski and Liam Hughes are now back at the club while there are high hopes for 18-year-old Harvey Davies, so there could be a succession plan in place.

But it’s very unlikely that the club will go into the coming season by loaning Kelleher out without strengthening the position should catastrophe strike and Alisson go down for any considerable period of time.

Kelleher is by far the most capable backup and given his performances thus far – not to mention his heroics in last season’s successful League Cup run – is one who would be coveted by a large cohort of clubs.

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher during a training session at the AXA Training Centre ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 3 game between Club Atlético de Madrid and Liverpool FC. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher during a training session at the AXA Training Centre ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 3 game between Club Atlético de Madrid and Liverpool FC. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

So, No. 2 it’s likely to be for the Corkman next season, offering a steady replacement for Alisson and allowing for another run in the domestic cup campaigns.

This poses an interesting conundrum for Kelleher who, at 23 years old, is still in the early reaches of his career, but still warrants as much playing time as possible to hone his craft.

Speaking on the subject himself this month, while on duty with the Republic of Ireland, the player said: “I’m not sure on what’s happening yet.

“I’m still finishing this season and then we will have conversations after that to see what happens.

“I’m not sure yet – obviously I need to play these few games and see what happens with these and maybe decide after that.”

The waiting game

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker applauds the supporters after the FA Cup Semi-Final game between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. Liverpool won 3-2. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson Becker applauds the supporters after the FA Cup Semi-Final game between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. Liverpool won 3-2. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Goalkeepers tend to get better with age and there is a waiting game to play at Liverpool, should the stars align.

Alisson is 30 in October. Who’s to say he could turn around in a couple of seasons and, like Mane did this summer, say that he’s achieved all his wishes in a red shirt and is ready to move on?

It’s not inconceivable, albeit unlikely right now, but it would pave a route for the Irishman to claim the No. 1 shirt for as long as he can perform.

In the immediate future, game time is paramount, and you’d have to wonder if Kelleher is best-placed finding a starting role elsewhere for the season ahead.

He is in an enviable position for a young ‘keeper at Liverpool.

He gets to train with Alisson and Adrian every day in a team perennially contending for trophies, under Klopp and some of the finest staff anywhere to be found, with even a World Cup-winning goalkeeper in Claudio Taffarel recently added to the concoction.

Kelleher, Bazanu and Travers

 Republic of Ireland's goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher during the pre-match warm-up before the UEFA Nations League Group Stage League B Group 4 match between Wales and Republic of Ireland at the Cardiff City Stadium. Wales won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Republic of Ireland's goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher during the pre-match warm-up before the UEFA Nations League Group Stage League B Group 4 match between Wales and Republic of Ireland at the Cardiff City Stadium. Wales won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

On the international front, Kelleher is in an equally sticky position.

Ireland boasts one of the finest young goalkeeping unions anywhere in Europe with the Liverpool man, 20-year-old Gavin Bazunu – who has now joined Southampton from Man City – and 23-year-old Mark Travers, who helped Bournemouth to Premier League promotion with an excellent season, topping the Championship clean sheet charts.

Kelleher earned four caps for the Republic in the post-season Nations League games, thanks in part to the absence of injured Bazunu.

That doubled his cap haul, but the main takeaway was that – with a single clean sheet from clashes with Armenia, Ukraine (twice) and Scotland – he hadn’t done enough to usurp Bazunu, who has been generally incredible for Ireland in his young career to date.

The fact that Kelleher beat out Travers to the No. 1 shirt is notable, given the latter had played a full competitive Championship season, and it was evident as to why pretty early on.

Kelleher is incredible and effortless with the ball at his feet, making every pass back look exceptionally easy.

 Republic of Ireland's goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher during the pre-match warm-up before the UEFA Nations League Group Stage League B Group 4 match between Republic of Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium. The game ended in a 0-0 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Republic of Ireland's goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher during the pre-match warm-up before the UEFA Nations League Group Stage League B Group 4 match between Republic of Ireland and Wales at the Aviva Stadium. The game ended in a 0-0 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s a fantastic safety blanket for a team that isn’t necessarily blessed with the best ball-playing centre-halves, so Kelleher does have plenty to offer Ireland.

But with Bazunu’s move to the Premier League, where he will compete for the Saints’ starting position, it’s very likely their roles will reverse in the next international break.

For Kelleher to expand on his eight caps, he’ll need to be playing football on a more regular basis to show that he can match his younger counterpart in more departments, not just his comfort when balls are pinged at him by under-pressure defenders.

Where does that leave Kelleher?

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (L) embraces goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher after the FA Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road. Liverpool won 5-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp (L) embraces goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher after the FA Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road. Liverpool won 5-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s a delicate position Kelleher is in this summer.

He’s not in a bad one, of course – many young goalkeepers would dream of being understudy at Liverpool and a permanent fixture of their national side – but the playing time at this stage of the career has to be a consideration.

He is surely mulling that over after a long season that was elongated further with the national team.

If Liverpool are calling it business done this summer, the decision has possibly been taken out of his hands already. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

But the iron is hot to strike a loan deal and get a full season of competitive football under his belt.

His ceiling is infinitely high, but until Kelleher fully pursues that it could be a long wait until we truly find out.

* This is a guest article for This Is Anfield by Kevin Coleman of Back Page Football. Follow Kevin on Twitter, @kvn_clmn.

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Mane says goodbye & Nike consider major kit change – Latest Liverpool FC news

ThisIsAnfield.com - Wed, 06/22/2022 - 17:30

After six incredible years, today Liverpool said goodbye to Sadio Mane, who has now completed his transfer to Bayern Munich. Here is all the latest news.

Farewell, Sadio Mane

We all knew it was coming, but that didn’t make it any easier.

Mane is now officially a Bayern Munich player after both clubs confirmed the deal and the Senegal star was unveiled at the Allianz Arena.

The deal was announced at 12.15pm, with Liverpool releasing a farewell interview conducted at Mane’s house in Mallorca, where he was pictured earlier this week.

The transfer also brings an end to Liverpool’s iconic forward line of Mane, Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, which, after 338 goals in five seasons, must surely go down as one of the best attacks in football history.

Salah, Virgil van Dijk, Jordan Henderson and Kostas Tsimikas are among those to have already posted goodbye messages to Mane on social media.

Mane in a Bayern Munich shirt really is going to take some getting used to, but the real question is who will take up his iconic No. 10 at Liverpool?

Place your bets…

3 things today: Say it ain’t so, Sadio?

  • Nike are “seriously considering” the option of offering several clubs home kits that would last two seasons. Just like the old days!
  • Mane has labelled himself Liverpool’s “No. 1 fan” and explained his decision to leave the club in search of a new challenge
  • Jurgen Klopp‘s tribute to Mane was classy as ever, with the boss admitting this was “a significant moment” and labelling him “one of Liverpool’s greatest ever players”
Latest Liverpool FC news

 Liverpool's Billy Koumetio during the pre-match warm-up before the Premier League 2 Division 1 match between Everton FC Under-23's and Liverpool FC Under-23's, the Mini-Merseyside Derby, at Haig Avenue. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

  • Curtis Jones couldn’t resist a game of six-a-side while on holiday in Los Angeles, scoring a couple of eye-catching goals that were caught on camera by Tiki Taka Soccer League’s official Instagram
Latest Premier League chat

 Leeds United's Raphael Dias Belloli 'Raphinha' during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Leeds United FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 6-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

  • Arsenal have made an opening offer to sign Brazil winger Raphinha, according to The Athletic, but in typical Arsenal fashion, the offer fell “well short” of Leeds‘ valuation. Seen that one before!
  • It doesn’t quite qualify as Premier League, but Gareth Bale is reported to have been at Cardiff City’s training ground to discuss the possibility of signing a short-term deal with the Championship club
  • Meanwhile, with Dean Henderson close to joining Nottingham Forest, Man United are said to be in talks to sign Watford goalkeeper Daniel Bachmann, who Erik ten Hag believes can provide backup to David de Gea
Tweet of the day and match of the night

We were just about holding it together until Salah tweeted this. Today really is the end of an era.

It’s been quite a ride! Thank you for all the good times and I wish you all the best in your new adventure! You will be missed by all of us. pic.twitter.com/zndPry1mfg

Mohamed Salah (@MoSalah) June 22, 2022

England will take on Serbia in their second group game at the Under-19 European Championships, on BBC iPlayer at 7pm.

Liverpool defender Jarell Quansah played the opener against Austria, while fellow Reds team-mates Harvey Davies and Luke Chambers could also feature.

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“It’s been quite a ride!” – Mo Salah leads touching Liverpool tributes to Sadio Mane

ThisIsAnfield.com - Wed, 06/22/2022 - 16:37

With Sadio Mane leaving Liverpool after a legendary six years, Mohamed Salah is among the players to have paid tribute to their outgoing team-mate.

Mane has officially made the jump from Liverpool to Bayern Munich after a protracted transfer that saw the two clubs agree a deal worth up to £35.1 million.

It is a sad day at Anfield, with the No. 10 proving invaluable in the six years since his arrival from Southampton in 2016.

Jurgen Klopp described Mane as “one of Liverpool’s greatest ever players,” saying of his revolution at the club: “Sadio made it all possible.”

He has been revered by supporters, too, with the consensus being that in 269 appearances, in which he scored 120 goals, laid on 48 assists and won six trophies, he has cemented himself as a club legend.

Now Salah has joined the tributes to his long-term attacking foil, taking to Twitter to laud Mane on his exit from Merseyside:

It’s been quite a ride! Thank you for all the good times and I wish you all the best in your new adventure! You will be missed by all of us. pic.twitter.com/zndPry1mfg

Mohamed Salah (@MoSalah) June 22, 2022

“It’s been quite a ride!” the Egyptian wrote.

“Thank you for all the good times and I wish you all the best in your new adventure!

“You will be missed by all of us.”

It flies in the face of the depiction of Salah and Mane as contenders in attack, rather than team-mates, with their shared determination sparking accusations of a frayed relationship at times.

Salah was not the only Liverpool player to honour the 30-year-old, either, with Jordan Henderson, Virgil van Dijk and Kostas Tsimikas using their Instagram stories to bid farewell:

It is a fond farewell for Mane, rather than a bitter one, with the forward giving everything in his six seasons at Anfield – and, in his words, achieving everything too.

With the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, League Cup, Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup won, he has joined Bayern for a “new challenge.”

And in his exit interview with LFCTV, he revealed how he had already said his goodbyes in a “long text” to his team-mates.

“I sent a long text to say goodbye to everybody, which is normal,” he said.

“They were sad, as I was, but it is part of life. We just have to accept it.”

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Takumi Minamino could lay the groundwork for 2023 Liverpool transfer pursuit of ‘absolute stud’

Liverpool.com - Wed, 06/22/2022 - 16:00

Two and a half years on from his arrival on Merseyside, Japan international Takumi Minamino is about to leave Liverpool.

The Reds had hoped to generate £17m from his sale but according to Sky Sports journalist Lyall Thomas, they’ve agreed to take an initial £12.9m from AS Monaco, potentially rising to £15.4m through add-ons.

That has to be regarded as a reasonable price tag for a 27-year-old who scored 10 goals for Liverpool last season, playing a vital role in their domestic cup double, who still had two years left on his deal. The Principality side will be pleased with their business.

READ MORE:Jürgen Klopp favourite set for bigger Liverpool role and could thrive following key departures

READ MORE:Liverpool agree £15.5m transfer deal as playmaker wants to work with Jürgen Klopp ‘at all costs’

Liverpool, of course, had their eyes on Monaco’s prize asset Aurélien Tchouaméni earlier in the year, but he opted to join Real Madrid.

But one of the advantages of selling Minamino to the Ligue 1 outfit, especially on favourable terms, is that it should foster a healthy relationship between the two clubs.

And it’s a relationship Liverpool may look to tap into, given that Monaco place so much faith in exciting young talent. As of 31 March, they ranked 10th out of the 98 sides in the big five leagues for ‘highest percentage of minutes by under-21 players’.

So who might Julian Ward and his recruitment team look at in the coming transfer windows?

Well, their admiration for centre-back Benoît Badiashile is already established. The 21-year-old featured on a shortlist of alternatives to Ibrahima Konaté in 2021, and might well have remained on the Reds’ radar.

However, with Joe Gomez now expected to sign a new deal, the long-term centre-back partnership at Anfield could conceivably be set.

A more likely target may be midfielder Youssouf Fofana. The French Under-21 international made 46 appearances last season, including 31 starts in Ligue 1 and European competition.

While he can play as a number eight, the 23-year-old was at his best when deployed alongside Tchouaméni in a midfield two, forming what journalist Luke Entwistle called ‘arguably the most defensively solid midfield partnership in the league’. Entiwstle says that Fofana struggled in the first half of the campaign under Niko Kovač but became ‘indispensable’ under his successor Philippe Clement in the spring.

Indeed, when Monaco dealt Paris-Saint Germain a 3-0 beating in March, Fofana and Tchouaméni completely dominated the soon-to-be-champions’ midfield of Danilo Pereira, Leandro Paredes and Marco Verratti.

Now, he’s being tipped by one European football expert to explode in 2022/23, while talent scout Jacek Kulig has urged top Premier League sides to monitor him.

In terms of playing style, he’s similar to Aston Villa’s John McGinn, a player Jürgen Klopp reportedly likes. He’s very strong in ground duels, ranking in the 91st percentile among positional peers for percentage of dribblers tackled, but can also be highly effective in possession too.

He scores in the 88th percentile for dribbles attempted, highlighting his willingness to run with the ball. With a high volume of progressive carries too (78th percentile), he’s clearly someone who proactively looks to get his team up the pitch and into more dangerous areas.

And Fofana isn’t overly safe when it comes to his distribution either: he’s in the top 25 percentiles for progressive passes and passes into the penalty area. Much like Tchouaméni, then, he offers an impressive all-round package.

It may be his former team-mate who’s generated all the ‘hype’ up to this point, but Fofana is ‘an absolute stud as well’, in the words of journalist Zach Lowy. Liverpool still have midfield needs to address, and Fofana might well represent a more cost-effective solution than £85.3m man Tchouaméni.

Next time Liverpool come knocking on Monaco's door, they can give a gentle mention of the name Minamino. Especially if next season goes well for the Japan international, it certainly won't hurt.

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Sadio Mane’s 10 best Liverpool moments in photos – Arsenal stunner to Anfield title

ThisIsAnfield.com - Wed, 06/22/2022 - 15:30

With Sadio Mane‘s move to Bayern Munich now official, This Is Anfield looks back on his 10 greatest moments in a Liverpool shirt.

“True club legend” was just one of the compliments Jurgen Klopp gave Mane after his move to Bayern was confirmed, and he’s not wrong.

After six remarkable years, the Senegal star joins Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich and will no doubt go down as a Liverpool icon.

Mane has established himself as a modern-day Liverpool great, giving fans some memories they will simply never forget.

Here, we count down the No. 10’s best Liverpool moments in photos.

10. A century of Premier League goals

 Liverpool's Sadio Mané celebrates after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's Sadio Mané celebrates after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Watford FC and Liverpool FC at Vicarage Road. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

On October 17, 2021, Mane became the third African player to score 100 times in the Premier League and only the third player to do so in the division without any penalties.

He reached the landmark in a 5-0 thrashing of Watford at Vicarage Road, with strike partner Mohamed Salah creating it with a sublime pass.

9. A Wembley brace

 Liverpool's Sadio Mané celebrates after scoring the second goal during the FA Cup Semi-Final game between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's Sadio Mané celebrates after scoring the second goal during the FA Cup Semi-Final game between Manchester City FC and Liverpool FC at Wembley Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In his final season, it was Mane who fired Liverpool into the FA Cup final – where they’d go on to beat Chelsea – with a special Wembley double against Man City.

The first of his goals was trademark Sadio, as he pressed from the front to force City goalkeeper Zack Steffen into an error.

The second was a gorgeous volley after Thiago‘s chipped assist.

8. Club World Cup glory

 Liverpool's Sadio Mané lifts FIFA Club World Cup trophy after the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019 Final match between CR Flamengo and Liverpool FC at the Khalifa Stadium. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's Sadio Mané lifts FIFA Club World Cup trophy after the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019 Final match between CR Flamengo and Liverpool FC at the Khalifa Stadium. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Mane capped off a year which saw him help Liverpool to their sixth European Cup by lifting the Club World Cup trophy in Doha.

It was Mane who set up the winner for Liverpool in the final, as he ran in behind the Flamengo defence and delivered the perfect pass to Roberto Firmino.

7. Pandemonium at Villa Park

Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game during the Premier League match at Villa Park, Birmingham. PA Photo. Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring his side's second goal of the game during the Premier League match at Villa Park, Birmingham. PA Photo. Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Many Liverpool fans will remember this as the moment they knew the Reds would go on to win the title in 2019/20.

After Andy Robertson‘s 87th-minute equaliser at Villa Park, Mane popped up with a stunning header four minutes into stoppage time to secure all three points for Liverpool.

Limbs.

6. Debut delight

Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring his sides fourth goal with Jurgen Klopp during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. Picture date August 14th, 2016 Pic David Klein/Sportimage via PA Images

Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring his sides fourth goal with Jurgen Klopp during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. Picture date August 14th, 2016 Pic David Klein/Sportimage via PA Images

This really was a sign of things to come. Mane introduced himself to the Liverpool faithful with the most incredible goal on his debut against Arsenal in 2016.

After running onto a hopeful pass from Adam Lallana, Mane brushed off several Arsenal defenders before firing into the top corner on his left foot.

His celebration? A Jurgen Klopp piggyback. Iconic.

5. One, two, three in Porto

 Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring the first goal with team-mates Andy Robertson and Georginio Wijnaldum during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st leg match between FC Porto and Liverpool FC on Valentine's Day at the Estádio do Dragão. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring the first goal with team-mates Andy Robertson and Georginio Wijnaldum during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st leg match between FC Porto and Liverpool FC on Valentine's Day at the Estádio do Dragão. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

This was Mane at the peak of his powers.

His one and only hat-trick for the club came as the Reds put five past Porto in the Champions League group stage in 2018.

His first was a strike that squeezed through a helpless Jose Sa, his second a rebound from a Firmino effort. He saved the best for last with a thunder strike from the edge of the box.

Some performance.

4. Bayern brilliance

 Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring the third goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 2nd Leg match between FC Bayern M¸nchen and Liverpool FC at the Allianz Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring the third goal during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 2nd Leg match between FC Bayern M¸nchen and Liverpool FC at the Allianz Arena. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

A goal that some will argue was Mane’s best came against the team he ended up leaving for.

The winger collected a sumptuous Virgil van Dijk pass over the top of the Bayern defence before turning Manuel Neuer inside out and chipping home. Simply unplayable.

3. Derby drama

 Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring the winning goal against Everton in injury time during the FA Premier League match, the 227th Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring the winning goal against Everton in injury time during the FA Premier League match, the 227th Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Merry Christmas, Everton.

Mane delivered one of the most memorable Merseyside derby goals in history in his first season with the club.

In a game that looked destined to end goalless, Mane pounced on a Daniel Sturridge shot that had deflected off the post in stoppage time, securing all three points at Goodison.

2. Premier League glory

 Liverpool’s Sadio Mané lifts the Premier League trophy during the presentation as the Reds are crowned Champions after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool’s Sadio Mané lifts the Premier League trophy during the presentation as the Reds are crowned Champions after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The moment Liverpool had been waiting for. In 2019/20, Mane played a key role in Liverpool’s first league title in 20 years.

He ended the league campaign with 18 goals and seven assists. A crying shame that the Anfield faithful could not thank him for his efforts in person.

1. A Champions League dream come true

 Liverpool's Sadio Mane lifts the trophy after the UEFA Champions League Final match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at the Estadio Metropolitano. Liverpool won 2-0 to win their sixth European Cup. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool's Sadio Mane lifts the trophy after the UEFA Champions League Final match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Liverpool FC at the Estadio Metropolitano. Liverpool won 2-0 to win their sixth European Cup. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The Champions League was the trophy Mane always said he dreamed of lifting one day. When he finally managed it in Madrid, it really did mean the world to him.

A second European Cup with the Reds in 2022 would have been the perfect way to sign off, but Mane’s Liverpool legacy was already firmly in place.

You’ll be missed, Sadio.

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Curtis Jones takes break from holiday to join local 6-a-side in LA

ThisIsAnfield.com - Wed, 06/22/2022 - 14:09

Liverpool midfielder Curtis Jones has been enjoying his time off in Los Angeles – and couldn’t resist a game of six-a-side on Tuesday.

Pre-season is yet to get underway, but Liverpool’s No. 17 is ensuring he’ll be fresh when he and his team-mates begin their preparations for 2022/23 next month.

Jones enjoyed a kickabout with those in the Tiki Taka Soccer League, representing a team named Jeeter FC.

The Liverpool youngster was filmed scoring some impressive goals and could be heard giving advice to his team-mates.

One of Jones’ goals came from him cutting in from the left-hand side and slotting the ball into the corner of the net, something we became accustomed to seeing from him at youth level.

Another came from a clever dummy and drop of the shoulder as he rounded the goalkeeper and slotted home from a tight angle.

At one stage, Jones appeared to tell his team-mates that he would step aside to allow others to play, but was told in no uncertain terms to carry on. He won’t have minded that!

A lot of the match was captured on Tiki Taka Soccer League’s official Instagram page, with Jones’ team beaten 7-6 after a winner in the very last seconds.

Following the match, the 21-year-old posed for photos with the rest of the team and the Jeeter coach.

 Liverpool Curtis Jones celebrates after the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. Liverpool won 2-0, 2-0 on aggregate. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

 Liverpool Curtis Jones celebrates after the Football League Cup Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between Arsenal FC and Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium. Liverpool won 2-0, 2-0 on aggregate. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

While Jurgen Klopp will want all of his players to spend this time relaxing and recovering from a gruelling season, Jones and his team-mates will have been sent training regimes to follow during their break.

It’s likely that Jones saw this as a fun opportunity to work on his fitness, with less than two weeks until the squad begin to reconvene at the AXA Training Centre on July 4.

Jones may not return quite so soon, having featured for England Under-21s in their Euro 2023 qualifiers earlier this month.

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Jürgen Klopp favourite set for bigger Liverpool role and could thrive following key departures

Liverpool.com - Wed, 06/22/2022 - 14:00

Harvey Elliott's brief foray into Liverpool's starting XI during the beginning of last season was perhaps one of the major breakout moments for the club in terms of bringing youth players into the first team squad in 2021/22.

Jürgen Klopp used plenty of young players throughout the campaign, but his faith in Elliott was a significant statement of intent and a mark of just how highly the 19-year-old is perceived among Liverpool's coaching staff.

If it wasn't for an untimely and extremely unfortunate injury blow which cruelly derailed his development, who knows where Elliott would have ended up last season. But while he has struggled at times since his return, it was only natural given the serious nature of his injury.

READ MORE: Liverpool agree £15.5m transfer deal as playmaker wants to work with Jürgen Klopp ‘at all costs’

READ MORE: Liverpool were right about forgotten '£35m' transfer as Jürgen Klopp emphatically got last laugh

Besides, it has not been entirely doom and gloom for the youngster. Those who point to his subpar performance against Inter Milan are also quick to forget Elliott's first goal in a Liverpool shirt on his first game back from injury against Cardiff City — a sweetly struck volley that thumped into the back of the net.

Towards the end of last season, Elliott struggled to get into the team, but he did look sharp in outings for England's U21 side. In three games since March, Elliott has registered three assists for the England youth side, and has controlled the games he has featured in, beating his opponents with ease and even forcing substitutions on occasion.

His underlying numbers at Liverpool are also impressive. For players who have played at least 300 minutes in the Premier League in the Liverpool squad, Elliott averaged the most shot-creating-actions (5.46), per FBref.

Just like last season, pre-season offers Elliott a golden opportunity to get back into the rhythm of the game and once again show a glimpse of his quality to Klopp and his coaching staff. There have been some significant changes in the squad at Anfield, and the departure of Sadio Mané coupled with the arrival of Darwin Núñez could see Klopp move towards his favoured 4-2-3-1 system from his Borussia Dortmund days.

That formation could suit Elliott, with the youngster best when playing at the tip of a diamond midfield. In that position, Elliott could become Klopp's 'second Mario Götze', cementing his burgeoning status from the beginning of last campaign as a favourite of the manager.

But even without a formation change, Elliott's first and primary role at academy level — as well as at Blackburn in the Championship — was on the wing. With Liverpool not adding any depth on the right-flank, coupled with the departure of Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi, the teenager could also see himself becoming an understudy for Mohamed Salah higher up the field.

The 2022/23 campaign will be a make or break one for Elliott. The 19-year-old has all the tools to seize his chance in what lies ahead.

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Jurgen Klopp’s emotional tribute to Sadio Mane – “He made it all possible”

ThisIsAnfield.com - Wed, 06/22/2022 - 13:42

Jurgen Klopp admits “our loss is Bayern’s gain” after Sadio Mane completed his £35.1 million exit, lauding him as “one of Liverpool’s greatest ever players.”

“It’s a big moment. There is no point in anyone trying to pretend otherwise,” Klopp begins.

“One of Liverpool’s greatest ever players is leaving and we must acknowledge how significant this is.”

Mane has signed a three-year contract with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, leaving Anfield after six successful years.

Arriving from Southampton in 2016, there were doubts among some sections of the support that the £30 million fee would be value for money, but Mane defied expectations to become one of the best players in the world.

He was the catalyst for Liverpool’s revival under Klopp, and it is no surprise, then, the emotion with which the manager paid tribute to his long-serving No. 10.

“He leaves with our gratitude and our love,” he told the club’s official website.

 Liverpool’s Sadio Mané lifts the Premier League trophy during the presentation as the Reds are crowned Champions after the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Chelsea FC at Anfield. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“He leaves with his status among the greats guaranteed. And, yes, he leaves in a moment where he is one of the best players in world football.

“But we must not dwell on what we now lose, instead celebrate what we were privileged to have.

“The goals he scored, the trophies he won; a legend, for sure, but also a modern-day Liverpool icon.”

Klopp is right to not focus on the impact of Mane’s exit – particularly as, in Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez, the club have already brought in elite replacements – but his words on the Senegalese’s impact are profound.

“Since he first stepped through the door, he made us better,” he added.

“If someone had told us in that moment what he would go on to contribute and achieve for this club, I’m not sure it would have been possible to comprehend in that moment. Not the scale of it at least.

“Sadio made it all possible.”

Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring his sides fourth goal with Jurgen Klopp during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. Picture date August 14th, 2016 Pic David Klein/Sportimage via PA Images

There was frustration during talks between Liverpool and Bayern, with the German club reportedly submitting two derisory offers before the £35.1 million package was agreed, but Klopp holds no ill will towards Mane.

“I respect completely his decision and I’m sure our supporters do also,” he explained.

“If you love LFC, you have to love Sadio – non-negotiable. It is possible to do this while accepting our loss is Bayern’s gain.

“We wish him nothing but success in every match he plays in, unless, of course, it’s against us. His star will continue to rise, I have no doubts.”

Klopp concluded: “World-class player! True club legend! Ideal role model! The perfect team-mate! Compassionate, caring person…[we] will miss you!”

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Jürgen Klopp: Sadio made it all possible - he’s a modern-day LFC icon

LiverpoolFC TV - Wed, 06/22/2022 - 13:00
Jürgen Klopp has emotionally reflected on the impact Sadio Mane delivered to Liverpool during his six brilliant seasons with the club.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Jürgen Klopp: Sadio made it all possible - he’s a modern-day LFC icon

LiverpoolFC.TV - Wed, 06/22/2022 - 13:00

Jürgen Klopp has emotionally reflected on the impact Sadio Mane delivered to Liverpool during his six brilliant seasons with the club.

The Senegal star’s transfer to Bayern Munich was confirmed today, bringing an end to his stellar and memory-filled Anfield career.

Mane joined the Reds from Southampton in the summer of 2016 and now leaves with Champions League, Premier League, FIFA Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup, Emirates FA Cup and Carabao Cup winner’s medals.

He scored 120 goals in his 269 appearances for Klopp’s side to establish himself as a club legend and one of the best forwards in the world.

So many massive moments in Red that we’ll never forget ❤ https://t.co/fz61yQp8DG

— LFC (Liverpool FC) 22nd Jun 11:37

Offering his reaction to Mane’s departure, the boss told Liverpoolfc.com: “It’s a big moment. There is no point in anyone trying to pretend otherwise.

“One of Liverpool’s greatest ever players is leaving and we must acknowledge how significant this is.

“He leaves with our gratitude and our love. He leaves with his status among the greats guaranteed. And, yes, he leaves in a moment where he is one of the best players in world football.

“But we must not dwell on what we now lose, instead celebrate what we were privileged to have.

“The goals he scored, the trophies he won; a legend, for sure, but also a modern-day Liverpool icon.

“Since he first stepped through the door, he made us better. If someone had told us in that moment what he would go on to contribute and achieve for this club, I’m not sure it would have been possible to comprehend in that moment. Not the scale of it at least. Sadio made it all possible.

“To be that good for such a sustained period and continuously improve season on season – no matter how high he set his own bar in the previous one – is an example to any player anywhere on the planet that professionalism and dedication leads to reward.

“I respect completely his decision and I‘m sure our supporters do also. If you love LFC, you have to love Sadio – non-negotiable. It is possible to do this while accepting our loss is Bayern’s gain.

“We wish him nothing but success in every match he plays in, unless, of course, it's against us. His star will continue to rise, I have no doubts.

“I remember last season I was asked, in an interview or Q&A from memory, to describe Sadio in three words. I said at the time it’s not possible to do this.

“If I was to try I’d need to be allowed multiple attempts – because there are so many ways you can describe him using three words.

“World-class player!

“True club legend!

“Ideal role model!

“The perfect teammate!

“Compassionate, caring person!

“But the three words that feel the most appropriate today are also the hardest to say, ‘Will miss you!’”

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Sadio Mane’s farewell interview: ‘I am now Liverpool’s No.1 fan’

LiverpoolFC TV - Wed, 06/22/2022 - 12:29
Sadio Mane will forever be an ardent Liverpool supporter following his transfer to Bayern Munich.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Sadio Mane’s farewell interview: ‘I am now Liverpool’s No.1 fan’

LiverpoolFC.TV - Wed, 06/22/2022 - 12:29

Sadio Mane will forever be an ardent Liverpool supporter following his transfer to Bayern Munich.

It was confirmed on Wednesday that Mane’s glittering six-year spell on Merseyside has come to an end, with the forward swapping Anfield for the Allianz Arena.

The Senegal international leaves as a bona-fide club legend.

His signing from Southampton in 2016 proved transformative as he immediately propelled Jürgen Klopp’s team to Champions League qualification and was duly a cornerstone of the glorious years that have followed.

Mane won six major trophies – the Premier League, Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup, FA Cup, Carabao Cup and UEFA Super Cup – with the Reds, while he also inspired his country to their maiden Africa Cup of Nations triumph earlier in 2022.

Personal accolades have included the African Footballer of the Year and Premier League Golden Boot awards, while his record of 120 goals in 269 appearances for Liverpool puts him 14th in the club’s all-time leading scorers list.

After putting the finishing touches on his move to Bayern, Mane invited Liverpoolfc.com to Mallorca to conduct a farewell interview.

He spoke of his eternal love for all things Liverpool – the club and its supporters, as well as the city – while also reflecting on topics such as his Reds legacy, his development under Klopp, his favourite moment and goal and why he is looking forward to returning to Anfield one day.

Watch the interview now here, or read a full transcript below…

Sadio, thank you for welcoming us to your home for this farewell interview. Your transfer to Bayern Munich is now complete, does it feel a little bit strange to say you are no longer a Liverpool player?

Yeah, for sure, for sure. Obviously it is strange – really, really strange – to no longer be a Liverpool player after six years spent at Anfield. But of course I had a great time, an unbelievable time, and since my first day I really, really enjoyed training, playing, at Anfield especially and in front of these amazing supporters. Now it’s come to the end, so what can you say?

There was a lot of speculation about your future towards the end of last season. Can you explain to us why you felt it was the right time to move on and try a new challenge?

Yeah, sure there was a lot, a lot, of speculation but I’m not a confused boy in my head. Obviously I know what I want and I know what is professional so for me, I was not even thinking about it because I was still a Liverpool player and we had really, really important games. For me that time was so, so important for myself and the team and the boys, and the supporters as well, and that is why I was really, really focused on that. I did not want [to make] any comments about it because winning the Champions League and the Premier League, that would have been fantastic for myself, for the club and for everybody. So that is why I was not even talking about or commentating about the speculation because it is part of football, it will always stay [this way]. It is normal.

Did you feel like you achieved everything you could achieve at Liverpool?

Yeah, sure. Like I said, from the first day I came to the club, I spoke to the boss when I was in Southampton and I think at that time we were not even in the Champions League. He called me and I said, ‘For sure.’ I just decided in my heart that I am coming to Liverpool because that is where I see myself and for me it was the right time and the right club to achieve everything. So, I can say of course we won a lot and I spent a great, great time there. An unbelievable time at Liverpool, we won a lot. 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.

You mentioned the boss there. Have you spoken to Jürgen and any of your now-former Liverpool teammates to say goodbye?

Yeah, sure. After when both clubs agreed [the transfer], I sent a long text to say goodbye to everybody, which is normal. They were sad, as I was, but it is part of life. We just have to accept it.

Was it very important to you to leave Liverpool on friendly terms with everyone, from the coaches and players to the staff and the supporters?

Yeah, of course! That was the plan from the beginning because for me, to leave Liverpool in a very good way, that is me because how I have been there. It was fantastic in the club, in the dressing room. I am friendly with everybody, the coaching staff and even the kitchen staff, the ladies in the kitchen! So, for me leaving in a good way is so, so important – and [for] the fans as well.

How have you grown and developed as a footballer and a person since you signed for Liverpool six years ago?

Wow! Incredible, incredible because when I came I think I was 24. I was not that old like now! But yeah, sure, I think I have developed as a human a lot and as a footballer I learned a lot from my teammates of course, these great, great, great players. And of course the staff helped me a lot to become the player [I am] and as well, I work very, very hard. Very, very hard.

During your Liverpool career, you won every club trophy there is to win, as well as AFCON with Senegal this year, African Footballer of the Year, the Premier League Golden Boot… when you arrived in 2016, did you ever dream you would, or could, achieve so much?

I will say that when I was a kid that was my dream, to win everything possible: trophies and individual trophies as well, that was my dream. So that is the reason I never stopped working, I am a very hard worker. Of course, for me it was the right time and the right club, when I was in Southampton, to come to Liverpool to achieve those things and I can say, ‘Yeah, I achieved something’, which is very, very incredible for me and I will be always grateful for this amazing club. I will never forget it and for sure I am looking forward for the next.

This is a very difficult question as there are so many to choose from, but if you had to pick one favourite moment from your time with Liverpool, what would that be?

Wow! I think it’s good but not a difficult question I will say! I will go first of all for 2019 when we beat Barcelona at home, that was incredible, and as well when we won the Champions League. For me, so far that is the best, best moment, or the moment that will stay forever in my head, for sure.

You leave in 14th place on the club’s all-time leading scorers list, with 120 goals in just 269 games. That puts you among some of the greatest players to ever represent Liverpool - it must make you feel very proud to see your name on that list?

[Laughs] Yeah, for sure! I am very, very proud about it. It was not easy for sure and to see your name among these great, great players, I think you can’t complain! You just have to be grateful and thankful and proud of yourself because Liverpool, it is one of the best clubs in the world so to see your name there, I think is just incredible.

So, those 120 goals then… which one was your best and which one is your favourite?

Wow! I will say my first goal at Emirates Stadium against Arsenal on my debut. And then after, my second goal, I will say against Bayern Munich, against Manuel Neuer! Sorry Manu, I am coming but I think the second goal was also unbelievable! So, I will pick these two goals.

Talking of goals, we have to mention the famous ‘front three’ of yourself, Bobby and Mo. You’ve talked so much about how amazing it was to play with them but now you have left, can you share any of the secrets behind your success? Why and how did you three link-up so well?

[Laughs] Wow, for sure, Bobby and Mo – what players! I think there are no other secrets because playing alongside these great players, they make everything easier for me. I think I am just supporting this and especially Bobby, who always dropped and made space for me and Mo, I think it was just incredible. These two players, Liverpool still have great players and you have now Diogo and Diaz also – wow, what a player they have! But it’s normal, it’s the best club in the world, so I wish them all the best, but for me football is always about dedication and to work very, very hard. That’s what I trust and those players did it and are doing it, so I think it will work always well for them.

Another relationship we have to talk about is yours with the manager. How much have you enjoyed working with Jürgen and how has he helped you as a player and as a person too?

Yeah, sure, I think since day one [when] I spoke with him to join Liverpool FC I think we had a really, really, really good relationship and [he is] a great manager. He has heart and also like I said now, he dedicated himself [and that] makes him so special. Of course, he helped me a lot to become the player I am, and the staff and all the boys, the players. And myself, like I always said, I never stopped working hard as well.

You enjoyed an incredible final season at Liverpool, winning two trophies and going so close to the quadruple. I think all fans would say it was one of their best and most enjoyable seasons because of the journey you and the boys took us on. Do you feel that way too?

Yeah, sure. I think it was a great, great, great season. Unlucky for us, we were so, so close but of course still I think it was the greatest season and the [most] enjoyable season I had in Liverpool because I can say we were almost there to win the quadruple, which would have been amazing. But it is part of football, like I always said it is behind us so let’s focus – both sides – on the next. But for sure, I think that was just an amazing, amazing season anyway, which everybody enjoyed.

You have mentioned the supporters a few times during this interview. You are loved at Anfield, you have your own song, you have brought the fans so much joy over the last few years. They showed again how much they adore this group of players at the parade a few weeks ago. Just how much will you miss them?

For sure, I think whoever is leaving Liverpool, with those supporters you will always miss them because so far [they are] the best in the world and I have always said it. Especially when [they sing] my name, ‘Mane! Running down the wing…!’ – I don’t know, I can’t sing very well! Of course I really enjoyed the time and they, wow… how can I say it? Playing at Anfield I think always gives you so much power because of the fans. So, for sure I am going to miss you guys but anyway, I love you guys. I still have my house in Liverpool and everything so for sure I will come back, of course, and I would love one day to come back to Anfield to say hi to them and of course to watch Liverpool playing because for me, I am going to be Liverpool’s No.1 fan – after the supporters!

That was my next question actually: Are you a Liverpool fan for life now then? Will you keep an eye on the results and how the team is getting on?

[Laughs] Yeah, of course! After every game! After every one of my games in Munich I will come to the dressing room and I will watch Liverpool, for sure, because I am going to be Liverpool’s No.1 fan forever. I just want to say good luck to them and I have an eye on them. And for sure they will be even better because I know the boys: great players, great talent, great maturity and attitude, so of course, Liverpool will always stay even better, for sure.

You said before about coming back to Anfield one day… who knows, we might see you again soon if Liverpool and Bayern meet in the Champions League…

[Laughs] You know the Champions League and how the draw always goes on, it can happen for sure and if it happens it happens. It is football and of course I have to come and I have to play. But like I said, Liverpool is Liverpool and we will see. We will see what is going to happen.

Finally Sadio, you leave Liverpool FC as a legend and one of the best players to ever play for the club. So on behalf of the club and, I’m sure, the supporters who are watching or reading this interview too, thank you for everything you did for us and we wish you very good luck in the future.

Thank you, thank you. Thank you guys, much love still, don’t worry! Bye, all the best!

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Mane joins Bayern | Klopp: He leaves Liverpool a modern-day icon

Liverpool FC on Sky Sports - Wed, 06/22/2022 - 12:15

Bayern Munich have completed the signing of Sadio Mane from Liverpool in a deal worth up to £35m.

The 30-year-old has signed a contract with the German champions until 2025.

Bayern will pay Liverpool an initial £27.5m with a further £5m based on appearances, and will pay another £2.5m based on individual and team achievements.

The deal eclipses what Liverpool paid for Mane - £31m plus £2.5m in add-ons - with Southampton not getting any additional money.

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As he leaves the Premier League for the Bundesliga, we look at Sadio Mane's best goals for Southampton and Liverpool

Mane had just one year remaining on his contract at Anfield and departs following the club-record signing of Uruguay striker Darwin Nunez from Benfica.

He departs Merseyside having made 269 appearances in all competitions since joining from Southampton in 2016, during which he scored 120 goals and registered 48 assists.

In his six years at Anfield, he won the Premier League, the Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup, FA Cup and Carabao Cup.

Mane: This is the right time for this challenge

Sadio Mane has revealed he had "no doubts" about leaving Liverpool to join Bayern, having followed the club during his time at Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg.

He said: "I'm very happy to finally be with FC Bayern in Munich. We had a lot of talks and I felt the great interest of this big club from the start.

"So there was no doubt in my mind right from the start: This is the right time for this challenge. I want to achieve a lot with this club, also internationally.

"During my time in Salzburg I followed many FC Bayern games - I like this club very much!"

In a separate farewell interview with Liverpool, Mane explained it was important for him to leave the club on good terms, saying: "I sent a long text to say goodbye to everybody, which is normal. They were sad, as I was, but it is part of life. We just have to accept it.

"That was the plan from the beginning - to leave Liverpool in a very good way. It was fantastic in the club, in the dressing room.

"I am friendly with everybody, the coaching staff and even the kitchen staff, the ladies in the kitchen! So, for me leaving in a good way is so, so important - and [for] the fans as well."

Klopp: Mane a modern-day Liverpool icon

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Sadio's story: relive the best and worst of Mane's Premier League journey

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has urged Liverpool's fans to "respect" Mane's move to Germany and has labelled the forward one of the club's "greatest ever players".

The 55-year-old told Liverpoolfc.com: "It's a big moment. There is no point in anyone trying to pretend otherwise.

"One of Liverpool's greatest ever players is leaving and we must acknowledge how significant this is.

"He leaves with our gratitude and our love. He leaves with his status among the greats guaranteed. And, yes, he leaves in a moment where he is one of the best players in world football.

"But we must not dwell on what we now lose, instead celebrate what we were privileged to have.

"The goals he scored, the trophies he won; a legend, for sure, but also a modern-day Liverpool icon.

"I respect completely his decision and I'm sure our supporters do also. If you love LFC, you have to love Sadio - non-negotiable. It is possible to do this while accepting our loss is Bayern's gain.

"We wish him nothing but success in every match he plays in, unless, of course, it's against us. His star will continue to rise, I have no doubts."

Analysis: Bayern get their main Mane for feature

Sky Sports News senior reporter Melissa Reddy:

"Bayern Munich get their main Mane. He very quickly became their priority target once they realised he was spurning Liverpool's attempts at offering him a new contract and that he actually did want a fresh challenge.

"They made a massive play for him with both the sporting director and technical director holding a four-hour meeting with Mane after hearing from Julian Nagelsmann that he was determined to get the player.

"They spelt out how he was going to fit in tactically and technically, how they would build a squad with him as the focal point. Apart from all the footballing elements, they showed him what it means to represent Bayern Munich, the relationship with the fans and the experience of parades around the city, giving him a flavour of the emotional connection the players have with the fans.

"Liverpool are now in this period of evolution with Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota and Darwin Nunez but the front three of Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah really set Liverpool up for the success they have had. The players they have now brought in have a template to work off and can come in and settle because of the functionality and the structure that front three have implemented."

'Mane's commitment cannot be faulted'

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Sadio Mane has landed at Munich airport ahead of a move to Bayern Munich, with former Liverpool forward John Barnes impressed with Mane's time at the club

Former Liverpool midfielder John Barnes told Sky Sports News:

"This is modern football - players come and go. The only thing clubs can demand from their players is that they give 100 per cent commitment while they're on their books and that's what Sadio Mane did.

"It was the same with Gini Wijnaldum last summer. It's sad to see him going, but Mane decided he needed a new challenge. Financially, it's a better move for him also but you can't complain about what he's done as while he was here he was absolutely fantastic.

"It'll be disappointing to see him leave as the club did all they could to keep him but they couldn't be held to ransom over paying him what he wanted.

"Liverpool have already brought in Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz, so what bringing in Darwin Nunez should change is it will give Liverpool more a threat within the penalty box.

"We're a very good team on the counter-attack with space in behind, but every now and then when teams defend deep and in numbers, we've not had that big presence in the box which is what Nunez will give us.

"It will give us a real orthodox presence to get on the end of crosses in addition to what we already have. Players do need time to bed in, but the majority of Jurgen Klopp's signings have hit the ground running."

Which positions are Liverpool targeting? Liverpool transfers

Sky Sports News reporter Vinny O'Connor:

Liverpool will look to strengthen their forward line this season. The fact they even spoke to Kylian Mbappe shows how intent they are to add further quality up top.

They have already secured the signature of Darwin Nunez, but it makes sense with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino entering the final year of their contracts. The departure of Mane, who also had one year left on his deal, and Divock Origi having already decided to go, makes reinforcements in that area a priority.

With Fabio Carvalho due to officially start his Liverpool career on July 1, any further overhaul in midfield could depend on the futures of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Takumi Minamino. Oxlade-Chamberlain made 29 appearances in a 63-game season and hasn't played since the FA Cup win over Forest in March, while Minamino made just 24 appearances and both could look for more regular first-team opportunities. Oxlade-Chamberlain is another player with just one year left on his contract.

Strengthening the back-line does not appear to be a priority with Ibrahima Konate offering another option to Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk while Joe Gomez is able to cover right-back and centre-back.

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Sadio Mane completes transfer to Bayern Munich

LiverpoolFC TV - Wed, 06/22/2022 - 12:15
Sadio Mane has today completed a permanent transfer to Bayern Munich.
Categories: LFC NEWS

Sadio Mane completes transfer to Bayern Munich

LiverpoolFC.TV - Wed, 06/22/2022 - 12:15

Sadio Mane has today completed a permanent transfer to Bayern Munich.

The Senegalese forward heads to the Bundesliga outfit after six brilliant seasons with Liverpool.

He departs Anfield with the best wishes of everyone and the complete set of Premier League, Champions League, FIFA Club World Cup, UEFA Super Cup, Emirates FA Cup and Carabao Cup winner's medals.

From his 269 appearances for the club, Mane delivered 120 goals, 38 assists and countless smiles and memories.

So many massive moments in Red that we’ll never forget ❤ https://t.co/fz61yQp8DG

— LFC (Liverpool FC) 22nd Jun 11:37

"He is a machine," Jürgen Klopp wrote in April. "What he has done for this club and continues to do puts him in the bracket of ‘legend'."

Signed from Southampton in the summer of 2016, Mane was a key figure during Klopp's first full campaign as Liverpool manager, putting them on course to clinch a fourth-place Premier League finish and a return to the Champions League.

His levels – as well as the team's – would continue to rise year upon year as part of Klopp's devastating forward line.

Mane would break the 20-goal mark in all competitions in 2017-18, with 10 coming in the Champions League as the Reds reached the Kyiv final, which ended in defeat to Real Madrid.

Twelve months later, however, he got his hands on European club football's biggest prize after starring in the victory over Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid.

Mane was ever-present during the triumphant Champions League journey and had produced his best Premier League campaign with 22 goals to win the Golden Boot, along with Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The following campaign would be a memorable one, on a personal and collective level.

The 2019 CAF African Player of the Year helped Klopp's side make history by ending a 30-year wait to lift the Premier League title.

Mane racked up 22 goals and 12 assists in all competitions throughout 2019-20, when Liverpool became league, FIFA Club World Cup and UEFA Super Cup winners.

Despite a hugely challenging 2020-21 season for the team and player himself, Mane was part of Liverpool's late surge to secure Champions League football, scoring twice on the final day to wrap up a third-place league finish.

In 2021-22, he was rejuvenated as stadiums returned to full capacity and thrived from a mid-season positional switch.

Mane scored his 100th goal for the club against Crystal Palace in September, and a month later brought up his century in the Premier League – becoming just the third African player to reach three figures.

After guiding Senegal to Africa Cup of Nations glory for the first time in February, he returned to Merseyside hungry for more silverware, as the Reds played every fixture available to them.

A starter in the success over Chelsea in the Carabao Cup final, Mane continued to operate in a central role during the push for the three other honours on offer.

The FA Cup was added to his medal haul on a memorable day at Wembley in May, although his Liverpool career ultimately ended in heartbreak – narrowly missing out on the Premier League title and suffering defeat in the Champions League final.

But the disappointment of that week cannot come close to overshadowing, in any way, the joy and quality Mane brought to the club in his six-year stay.

A devastatingly effective player with an infectious personality, he will, quite rightly, go down as one of best forwards in Liverpool's illustrious history.

We thank Sadio for everything he has done and wish him the very best of luck in the rest of his career.

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