Sadio Mane outburst is symbolic of a transfer which hasn’t gone to plan for anyone

Ian King
Sadio Mane and Leroy Sane of Bayern Munich

Sadio Mane has been left out of the Bayern Munich squad after an altercation with Leroy Sane, a symbol of a transfer which hasn’t gone according to plan.


It’s probably fair to say that Bayern Munich’s trip to the Etihad for their Champions League quarter-final first leg against Manchester City wasn’t terribly successful.

On the pitch, they were brushed aside by Premier League opponents who seem to be hitting their stride at the right time to sweep all before them this season, to the point that the second leg in Munich should be little more than a rubberstamping exercise for their opponents.

But even this brushing aside pales in comparison to the news which has emerged from Bayern since then. Sky Germany reported that an altercation between two of their players, Sadio Mane and Leroy Sane, left the latter nursing a cut lip, the upshot of which is the former being left out of their squad for their home Bundesliga match against Hoffenheim on Saturday afternoon. Mane will also be receiving a fine for his role in this particular fracas.

A statement release by Bayern Munich was – perhaps predictably – terse on the matter:

‘Sadio Mane, 31, will not be in the FC Bayern squad for the home game against 1899 Hoffenheim next Saturday. The reason is Mane’s misconduct after FC Bayern’s Champions League game at Manchester City. In addition, Mane will receive a fine.’

There is little question that Mane is in serious trouble over this. It has already been confirmed that he would be expected to apologise to the entire first-team squad upon their return to training, and the possibility has even been raised that he may need to leave the club once this season is done and dusted. It’s all a long way from just 10 months ago, when Bayern Munich paid €32m (£27.4m) to take him from Liverpool, with the potential for this amount to rise to  €41m (£35m) with various add-ons.

This was a transfer which doesn’t seem to have done anyone that much good. Liverpool may have thoroughly replenished their attacking options over the the last 15 months, with Luis Diaz, Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo having all bolstered Jurgen Klopp’s squad, but this gone to script either. The Reds are labouring in eighth place in the Premier League, having failed to land much of a punch in any cup competition.

But none of this means that Mane’s time in Munich has been particularly happy either. At the time of writing, Bayern Munich are top of the Bundesliga, but after 10 consecutive league titles they’re being worked harder than they might have been expecting this season, and the extent to which this has been considered a retrograde step may be seen in their decision to sack Julian Nagelsmann a couple of weeks ago.

Expectations, it’s reasonable to say, are exceptionally high at this club.

And Mane’s contribution towards this has been patchy. He’s only managed 11 goals in 32 games, with only six of these coming in the league and none since October. In February, there were rumours of a bust-up between Mane and Nagelsmann after the player was left out of the team for their Champions League last-16 second-leg game against PSG. These rumours were wildly overblown, but the fact that they came about in the first place said something for the extent to which this season hasn’t exactly been going according to plan.

To a point, that’s hardly surprising. Mane had been at Liverpool for six years by the time he left for Bayern, and Bayern’s tactical system is very much different to that employed by Klopp. Thomas Tuchel has commented that his confidence may have been affected by injuries, and it should also be added that Mane could be a little inconsistent as a player, plenty capable of going a few games without a goal. Moving out to wide positions hasn’t especially seemed to benefit someone who seemed at his best in the middle and who isn’t getting any younger.

Of course, out there in the real world lamping one of your work colleagues in the mouth would be a summary dismissal matter, but professional football, in which players are not only the most important staff members but also the product itself, doesn’t work like other businesses. That this is out of character for him has been mentioned quite a bit, but the only response to that which makes any sense is to mention that any player who actually does it can only realistically be considered to be very much the sort of person who does.

The argument with Sane which led to this particular altercation is believed to have started on the pitch before carrying over into the changing room, and again it should go without saying to add that professionals earning a six-figure sum every week should be expected to keep the worst excesses of whatever emotions they’re feeling in check until they’ve calmed down.

And this loss of self-control will hit him hard. It is not yet known whether Mane will end up missing more than just this one game, while the damage done to the squad’s sense of togetherness may also have taken a substantial hit from this particular act. It’s too early to say whether he might have played his last game for Bayern, but this is certainly a incident they could have well done without, especially with Borussia Dortmund continuing to breathe down the back of their necks in the Bundesliga.

Football has a tendency to be able to leave this sort of robust conversation in the changing rooms, and that will be the next test for new head coach Tuchel. Winning matches has a tendency to make people forget this sort of thing, and should Bayern press home their slender advantage in the Bundesliga before the end of this season the chances are it’ll all be be forgotten in a few weeks. But Mane has blotted his copybook with this matter, an unfortunate reflection on a transfer which hasn’t really worked out for any of the parties concerned.