Jurgen Klopp pays tribute to ‘one of Liverpool’s greatest’ as Sadio Mane joins Bayern Munich

Jurgen Klopp pays tribute to ‘one of Liverpool’s greatest’ as Sadio Mane joins Bayern Munich

Sadio Mane was one of Jurgen Klopp's first signings as Liverpool manager and the two are close - PA

Sadio Mane was one of Jurgen Klopp’s first signings as Liverpool manager and the two are close – PA

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has not hidden his feeling of disappointment at Sadio Mane’s sale to Bayern Munich, calling it a “loss” and a “big moment” for his club.

Mane says he has left Anfield for a new football challenge at Bayern and it is a tribute to the Senegalese striker’s influence on Merseyside that confirmation of the £35.1million departure comes from a lengthy and emotional farewell interview at the Liverpool club – media channels was accompanied.

Rarely, if ever, is a star player fired like this, unless he announces his retirement.

“My life is always about a challenge and when it came I told the club I want to go, I want to go somewhere else to see a new challenge,” Mane said. “It’s nothing else. It’s just a challenge because I want to keep challenging myself to keep getting better.

“When both clubs agreed (the transfer) I sent a long text message to say goodbye to everyone, which is normal. They were sad, like me, but it’s part of life. We just have to accept it.”

Klopp personally paid tribute to the 30-year-old, hailing Mane as a ‘true club legend’.

“It’s a great moment. There’s no point in anyone trying to pretend otherwise,” said Klopp.

Mane leaves Liverpool with a record 90 goals in 198 games - REUTERS

Mane leaves Liverpool with a record 90 goals in 198 games – REUTERS

“One of Liverpool’s greatest players of all time is leaving and we have to recognize how important that is.

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

“But we must not think about what we are losing now, but celebrate what we had.

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

“Ever since he first walked in the door, he’s made us better. If someone had told us at that moment what he would do and achieve for this club in the future, I’m not sure if it would have been possible to understand it at that moment. At least not to the extent. Sadio made everything possible.

“To be so good over such a long period of time and to keep improving from season to season – no matter how high you set your own bar in the previous one – is an example for every player around the world that professionalism and dedication are rewarded .

“I fully respect his decision and I’m sure our fans do too. If you love LFC, you have to love Sadio – non-negotiable. It is possible to do this while accepting that our loss is Bayern’s gain.”

Liverpool were negotiating with Bayern when it emerged they could not agree a new deal for Mane, whose contract was set to run until 2023.

The club responded by bringing in Darwin Nunez from Benfica, although it could be argued that Mane’s replacement is actually Luis Diaz, who arrived from Porto last January.

Luis Diaz- GETTY IMAGES

Luis Diaz- GETTY IMAGES

Mane said the club’s future is in safe hands after seeing Diaz’s potential over the past six months.

“They also now have Diogo (Jota) and Diaz – wow what a player they have,” Mane said. “I wish you all the best. I think it will always work well for them.”

There could be echoes of Manes’ exit in Mohamed Salah’s departure in a year if the Egyptian fails to agree a new deal. Unlike Mane, Salah is ready to bid his time knowing he can sign a preliminary deal with foreign clubs in January and then leave on a free transfer in 2023.

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