Injury misery, benched for big games, no goals since October and now SUSPENDED after punching Leroy Sane… Sadio Mane was billed as Bayern Munich’s next superstar but it’s been a DISASTER
- Mane left Sane bloodied following a dressing room punch-up on Tuesday night
- It followed Bayern’s woeful Champions League capitulation at Manchester City
- Bayern confirmed that Mane has been dropped and fined after the incident
Sadio Mane’s move to Bayern Munich last summer appeared to be the perfect next step in an already impressive career.
The Senegal forward had helped Liverpool to Champions League and Premier League glory but was ready for a fresh challenge.
Bayern needed a proven goalscorer to help compensate for Robert Lewandowski’s departure to Barcelona and a fee of £27.4million, possibly rising to £35m, represented excellent value.
Here was someone Julian Nagelsmann could model his refreshed forward line around, supplying a steady stream of goals to keep Bayern dominant in Germany and to give them a shot in the Champions League.
Alas, all that has proved too good to be true. Mane’s time in Bavaria so far has been a disaster and a whole load of pent-up frustration erupted into the open this week.
An on-pitch argument between Sadio Mane (left) and Leroy Sane (right) escalated into a dressing room bust-up with the latter suffering a bloodied lip
Sane (right) appeared to hide his lower lip as the Bayern Munich players returned home
Mane (front row, second from right) and Leroy Sane (back right) were both pictured in Bayern training just hours after their meeting with club chiefs
The two players trained alongside one another throughout the session but Mane has been dropped for the upcoming game against Hoffenheim and also fined
The usually mild-mannered Mane took a swing at Leroy Sane in the Bayern dressing room after Tuesday night’s Champions League capitulation against Manchester City.
The slap bust open Sane’s lower lip, leaving him bloodied and the pair had to be separated by team-mates.
The upshot is that Mane has been suspended from the squad for Saturday’s game with Hoffenheim and also fined.
Bayern Munich manager Thomas Tuchel confirmed on Friday that the forward has been suspended for just one game – meaning he will be available for Wednesday’s return leg against City.
It is a remarkable conclusion to a row which had started on the pitch when Sane demanded Mane come deep and collect the ball a little more.
But it also spoke of broader irritations for Mane since he swapped Merseyside for Munich – about his form, his role in the team and injury struggles which some fear has curbed his talent.
Mane, 31, has scored 11 times in a Bayern shirt but all of those came before the injury blow – an inflammation of the fibula head in his right leg – that forced him to miss Senegal’s World Cup campaign in Qatar.
In nine outings for Bayern since his return on February 26, Mane has failed to find the net and under both Nagelsmann and his replacement Thomas Tuchel, his starting berth in the side has been far from assured.
In Bayern’s biggest games – against Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, and both Paris Saint-Germain and City in the Champions League – he has started among the substitutes.
Worse, there are suggestions the injury has robbed him of some trademark pace and left Mane less committed in one-on-one duels.
This week’s incident was out of character for the mild-mannered Mane but indicative of the frustrations he has suffered during his first season at Bayern
The former Liverpool forward has found himself starting on the bench for big Bayern games
Reports late last months spoke of concern within Bayern’s coaching staff about his fitness levels.
Around the same time, it emerged that Mane angrily confronted Nagelsmann about his lack of game time in front of stunned team-mates.
This argument came after he was given just eight minutes of the bench in the 2-0 home win over PSG and left Nagelsmann, soon to be relieved of his duties, visibly intimidated.
Bayern were convinced they’d signed a real winner when they paid Liverpool £27m to buy Mane last summer
It’s little wonder when Bayern’s squad split into two camps over whether Nagelsmann should stay or go, Mane was apparently firmly in the ‘get rid’ group.
Moving from the empathetic Klopp to the more matter-of-fact Nagelsmann proved a difficult adaption with Mane having to start from scratch having been comfortable in his role at Anfield.
It has been said Nagelsmann didn’t necessarily feel the obligation to explain to his players why they’d been cut from the team or why tactics were being altered.
Things didn’t exactly improve under Tuchel either.
It’s ironic that Bayern’s hierarchy believed back in the summer that Mane’s intensity and ferocious work rate would boot the likes of Sane, Serge Gnabry and Kingsley Coman up the backside.
Unfortunately that weight of competition for places in Bayern’s attack – after Mane was practically guaranteed to start every game on the left-side of Jurgen Klopp’s forward three at Liverpool – has proved overwhelming.
Mane started off positively enough, scoring goals as part of a centre forward pair in Nagelsmann’s 4-2-2-2 shape.
The Senegal star suffered a major injury setback just a few days before the World Cup
Mane didn’t see eye-to-eye with Nagelsmann and was in the group that wanted the coach out
But the coach decided to change things around October time, playing Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting as a sole striker and pushing Mane onto the left wing.
He was still scoring and creating. A few weeks later, however, he suffered that disruptive injury 20 minutes into a 6-1 win over Werder Bremen.
The shattering of Mane’s World Cup dream just a few days before the tournament began must have been devastating.
At such a well-resourced club as Bayern, losing your place in the team offers no guarantees you’ll get it back. Coman or Sane, or even Alphonso Davies, can easily slot in to Mane’s role.
In the snatches of game time Mane has been given post-injury, he hasn’t been able to find that confidence-restoring goal, maybe trying a little too hard at times.
The early indications under new boss Thomas Tuchel are that things may not really improve
Mane’s last goal – his 11th of the campaign – came against Mainz at the end of October
As Tuchel said last weekend: ‘I believe he’s a striker that defines himself that way [by scoring goals] and if he does that, he will gain self-belief and security.
‘In the end, it’s also obvious he needs a goal to feel really good.’
Another factor is the burdensome expectation at Germany’s top club. Injury setback or not, Bayern expected more from him as Lewandowski’s replacement and they were very big shoes to fill.
‘He’s still in search of himself a little,’ admitted chief executive Oliver Khan.
In Mane’s defence, the stats show only the slightest drop-off in his goals-per-game ratio and xG from last season at Liverpool and he’s already set up more goals.
He has been more accurate with his shooting and is more involved in the build-up to chances than he was at Anfield in 2021-22.
This may be a reflection of the tougher nature of the Premier League or Bayern’s assumed dominance in games.
Mane at Liverpool last season
Matches played 51
Goals per 90 0.53
xG per 90 0.54
Shots per 90 2.84
Shots on target per 90 1.12
Goal creating action per 90 0.42
Mane at Bayern this season
Matches played 32
Goals per 90 0.51
xG per 90 0.47
Shots per 90 3.21
Shots on target per 90 1.54
Goal creating action per 90 0.79
Mane was tasked with making up the shortfall of goals after Robert Lewandowski departed
The Mane-Sane punch-up is just the latest thing to deal with in a turbulent season at the Allianz Arena. Both players trained together on Thursday after a meeting with the club’s executive to clear the air.
But the club had to act and Bayern confirmed Mane’s suspension and fine in a short statement on Thursday afternoon.
It now remains to be seen when he is seen in a Bayern shirt again and whether he can ever recapture that peak Liverpool form.
Source: Read Full Article