When Southampton sold Sadio Mane for a figure in the region of £34m to Liverpool in 2016, many at St Mary’s would have been left frustrated to lose him but delighted with the fee recouped.
However, the “electric” winger – as hailed by football writer Leanne Prescott – has gone on to fulfil that price tag and more, with his Transfermarkt value currently at £63m and reaching a peak of £135m in 2019.
He quickly became one of Liverpool’s – and maybe the world’s – best players, with his trophy cabinet extending to almost every major honour available to him. It is a testament to his ability that the Merseyside outfit still managed to recoup £35m for him despite being 30 years old when Bayern Munich came calling this summer.
Mane scored 120 times and set up a further 49 goals in 269 appearances for the Reds. He announced himself as a modern day legend at Anfield and joins a long list of illustrious talents that the Saints have sold over the past decade.
Liverpool have taken plenty of those, with Virgil Van Dijk, Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana just a few who come to mind, but the Senegal winger might just be the best of the lot.
Mane scored 25 times and produced 14 assists in 75 appearances for Southampton, but considering how his game expanded under Jurgen Klopp, the Saints’ hierarchy must rue their decision to sell him six years ago.
Could Southampton ever have kept hold of Sadio Mane?
They did make a keen profit on the £10m that they forked out for him in 2014, but to see what he became makes what they received incomparable.
He became something of a goalscoring machine for a winger, ranking in the top 6% for non-penalty goals among positional peers in Europe’s top five leagues over the past 12 months. He has been integral in creating the new trend of high-goalscoring wingers (former team-mate Mohamed Salah also springs to mind).
In recent years Mane has redefined what it means to be a wide player, with his influence on the game widespread. He was also a man for the big occasion, as he equalled Frank Lampard’s record with 15 goals in the Champions League knockout stages, one of which came in the 2018 final.
The quintessential forward of his era, it would have taken a mammoth task for Southampton to keep him in the long run. However, if they could have held onto him for a little longer, it would have made the fee they received for him inconsequential.
Of all the players they have sold over the past 10 years, the Saints may rue Mane the most.