Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has revealed he didn’t sign Sadio Mane while he was at Borussia Dortmund because he got a bad impression from the winger, whom he said “looked like a rapper.”
Mane, 27, joined the Reds from Southampton in 2016 and has developed to become arguably the most valuable player at Anfield, maybe more so even then Mohamed Salah or Virgil van Dijk.
The pair might have linked up before his transition to the Premier League, but Klopp said in Made In Senegal—a documentary about Mane’s life and career, released on Wednesday—he passed on the first opportunity to sign the star, per the Independent’s Jack Rathborn:
“I remember my first encounter with Sadio. It was in Dortmund. There was a really young guy sitting there. His baseball cap was askew, the blond streak he still has today.
“He looked like a rapper just starting out. I thought, ‘I don’t have time for this’. Our team back then really wasn’t bad. I needed someone who could handle not being a starter at the very beginning, someone I could develop.
“I’d say I have a pretty good feeling for people, but was I wrong! I followed his further career and continued success at Salzburg. In Southampton he just dominated.”
Mane was 20 when he joined Red Bull Salzburg from Metz in 2012 and enjoyed a prolific career in Austria, netting 19 goals and recording 10 assists in his first 29 appearances for the club.
It’s a relief Klopp admits he was misplaced in his initial assessment of the player, going to show even the most revered figures in the sport can be wrong.
Anfield Watch posted the trailer for Made In Senegal, which will be available to stream via Rakuten TV in the UK:
Mane has become a major success despite missing out on that move to Klopp’s Dortmund, venturing to two UEFA Champions League finals under the German and winning the title last season.
The affection moves in both directions, too, as Mane told talkSPORT Klopp can be "really nice" but also has his harsher moments:
The forward has scored 77 goals and recorded 34 assists in 161 appearances for Liverpool, a far cry from the numbers that saw him have two direct goal involvements in 21 games for Metz as a youngster.
One could argue Mane may not have turned into the same talent were it not for those formative years at Salzburg and Southampton, while the blond streak happily remains part of his look today.
No US stream has been made available at this time, but we will update you here as soon as it is.