Liverpool winger Sadio Mane has revealed that he was close to joining Manchester United from Southampton before being snapped by Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool.
Mane is widely regarded as one of the best wingers in the world and speaking ahead of his side’s Champions League final on Saturday, he has explained why he ended up joining Liverpool instead of making a move to Old Trafford.
Ralf Rangnick, who recently stepped down from his role as United’s interim boss, famously signed Mane when he was in charge at RB Salzburg.
Mane left the Austrian club in 2014 to join Southampton, where he made a name for himself in the Premier League. His form for the Saints attracted the interest of Manchester United but a move never materialised. Louis van Gaal was said to be particularly interested at the time but in 2016, he joined Liverpool.
“I have to say, I was really close to going to Manchester United,” Mane told The Telegraph. “I had the contract there, I had it all agreed. It was all ready, but instead I thought: ‘No, I want to go to Liverpool’.
“I was convinced with Klopp’s project, I still remember the first time I got the call from Klopp. I was watching TV. It was an action movie, because I love movies, and he said: ‘Sadio, listen, I want to explain to you what happened at Dortmund’. That was when he thought of signing me for Dortmund and for some reason it didn’t work out.”
In hindsight, it’s easy to view Mane as the one that got away but the Senegalese forward has benefitted from Klopp’s system at Liverpool and it’s unlikely that he would flourish in the same way under Van Gaal or Jose Mourinho.
Mane is the latest player to reveal that he was close to joining United, with Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos doing the same earlier this month.
Erik ten Hag has started work as United’s next manager and he’ll be hoping that his main targets this summer don’t end up giving similar interviews five years down the line.