- Sadio Mane, 24, has been in scintillating form for Liverpool this season
- Manchester United bid £25million for him in the summer of 2015
- The Senegal international insists he was right to stay at Southampton
Sadio Mane insists it was his decision to stay at Southampton when Manchester United bid £25million for him in the summer of 2015.
He was a prime target for then-Red Devils manager Louis van Gaal and it was presumed to be the Saints’ unwillingness to negotiate that prevented the deal, yet ahead of his first Liverpool-United derby, the Senegal international has denied that notion.
The 24-year-old has been in scintillating form for Jurgen Klopp’s Reds since joining for £30m this summer, with three goals in six Premier League games.
Speaking about the rumoured interest from United last summer, Mane told The Telegraph: ‘In honesty, there were some clubs interested at that time but I never made any choices then. I did not say I thought of any club and I wanted to play there. That kind of interest gave me a lot confidence on the pitch and made me believe in myself, but I knew this was because of my hard work and I was in a good way.
‘Ronald Koeman was not happy with all the rumours because he wanted me to stay, but it was not too complicated because for me, also, it was not time to go. When I spoke to him I told him, ‘No problem, I will stay’. It was my decision. I wanted to stay at Southampton.
‘I was patient because I remember after the first year [in England] I knew it was better to focus on Southampton. In my head I thought I would be there a couple more years and prove something. I was convinced I still had to prove something, improve more and learn more before I moved to a bigger club. But then I knew when the right time was for me. The extra year helped me get better, and it is important for every player to go step by step.
‘It was only when Liverpool came in [in June] that I never had a second thought and knew I wanted to join.
‘It was different because then was the right moment for me. I finally came to Liverpool and I was happy with that, and now I’m happy I am playing against Manchester United.’
With Liverpool welcoming Jose Mourinho’s new-look United team to Anfield on Monday Night Football, Mane also admits his confidence: ‘We are going to beat Manchester United. Of course. We all believe it. We are going to make it.’