Sadio Mane is set to inform Liverpool of his desire to leave the club this summer, GOAL can confirm, with Bayern Munich leading the race to sign the Senegal star.
The 30-year-old is understood to be ready for a new challenge having spent the last six years on Merseyside, and had hinted before the Champions League final that an announcement on his future was imminent.
Mane did not, as promised, speak to the media after Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat to Real Madrid in Paris on Saturday night, but sources have told GOAL that it is increasingly likely he will leave Anfield, and that Bayern are the prime candidates to sign him.
What is the situation with Mane and Liverpool?
Mane, as with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, is about to enter the final year of his contract with Liverpool, and negotiations over a new deal were shelved some time ago.
The Reds have a good relationship with the player’s representative, Bjorn Bezemer, and had planned to hold talks at the end of the season over Mane’s future.
However, growing reports of Bayern’s interest - and an apparent meeting between Bezemer and Hasan Salihamidzic, the German club’s sporting director, have not gone down well at Anfield.
Club sources are understood to be disappointed at the timing of such reports, coming as Liverpool were pursuing glory on multiple fronts. Mane’s form has been strong, but the speculation was viewed as an unwelcome distraction, with Jurgen Klopp issuing a thinly-veiled criticism of Bayern at his pre-Champions League final press conference.
How close is Mane to joining Bayern Munich?
At this stage there has been no formal offer from the Bundesliga champions, and Liverpool sources insist that any fee for Mane would be well in excess of the €30million (£25m/$32m) figure that has been widely quoted.
Liverpool would also want to have a replacement lined up before selling, with Mane remaining a key figure in the team despite the January signing of Luis Diaz from Porto.
Mane scored 22 goals in all competitions this season, his form particularly strong following his return from the Africa Cup of Nations, where he had helped fire Senegal to glory in Cameroon.
How would Mane’s departure go down with Liverpool fans?
News of Mane’s likely exit will naturally concern fans, even if fears over Salah’s immediate future were assuaged last week when the Egyptian stated he would “for sure” be remaining with the club for another year.
Mane’s impact since his move from Southampton in 2016 has been huge. He has scored 120 goals in 268 appearances for the Reds, playing in every position across the forward line and winning every major club honour available in that time.
Liverpool have already begun building for the future with the capture of Diaz, who has made a fine start to life on Merseyside, but they would need to make another stellar signing if they were to plug the hole left by Mane’s exit.