Tuesday 20 March 2018

Bayern join hunt for Manchester United target Sadio Mane

Sadio Mane celebrates after scoring the first goal for Southampton
Sadio Mane celebrates after scoring the first goal for Southampton

Oliver Brown

Manchester United are facing competing interest from Bayern Munich for Southampton forward Sadio Mane.

United failed last summer with a bid for the 23-year-old Senegal international and, despite the eventual recruitment of Anthony Martial from Monaco, he remains a target for manager Louis van Gaal.

Mane, though, is also now on the radar of Pep Guardiola’s Bayern following his excellent start to the season at Southampton. Bayern did buy Douglas Costa earlier this year but, with Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery having both suffered injuries this season, serious long-term thought is being given to evolving the squad and adding pace.

Southampton officials made it clear in August that Mane would not be sold this year following an inquiry from United, who had suggested a willingness to pay around £20 million. United eventually looked elsewhere and spent an initial £36 million on Martial that could potentially rise to £58 million.

Southampton believe that Mane has been performing to a comparable level as Martial and, with his contract not expiring until 2018, would not be under pressure to sell.

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The lack of available strikers globally as well as the start next year of the new Premier League television deal is only likely to push prices up further in the coming months and, while Southampton hope to keep Mane and potentially extend his contract, he is already regarded as more valuable than any of the players who were sold to Liverpool and Manchester United over the past 18 months.

Mane has the added attraction of being able to play across the front positions as either a winger or main central striker. United have lacked creativity all season even with Martial in the team while captain Wayne Rooney has been struggling for goals and appeared to be lacking his usual sharpness.

Southampton would be likely to resist any bids for Mane in January as they again try to qualify for the Europa League but have shown that they will sell if a player wants to leave, a replacement has been identified and the price is right.

The club are well aware of Mane’s ambition and scouts will have been monitoring players in his position as well as other areas where either there is not obvious strength in depth within the academy or if there doubt over the future of an existing player.

Southampton manager Ronald Koeman said on Tuesday that he wanted the club to reinvest more heavily the funds from player sales if he does again lose key personnel next summer.


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