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Lightning speed & humble star: Mane's rise to Liverpool greatness decoded by RB Salzburg team-mate

08:00 GMT 25/03/2020
Sadio Mane Red Bull Salzburg Liverpool
Thomas Dahne explained how the Senegalese was very introverted when he joined the Austrian club and how he wowed with his incredible dribbling ability

Sadio Mane's former team-mate at Red Bull Salzburg has offered insight into what the Liverpool forward was like when he first joined the Austrian club in 2012 and how he turned that raw talent into world-class pedigree.

Thomas Dahne, who played alongside the Senegal international during the 2012-13 season, saw Mane's incredible ability up close and knew he could be a top player, albeit not predicting he would become one of the world's best.

Indeed, the German goalkeeper made his Austrian Bundesliga debut for the club in May 2013 - a game that saw Mane score twice in a 3-0 win over Austria Wien - and he has been impressed with how Jurgen Klopp has developed the former Southampton winger.

He told Goal and SPOX: "He was very inconspicuous, a calm guy. The only time he was noticed was on the field, you could see immediately that he was up to it. He is now one of the stars of the Premier League and a Champions League winner.

"When he came in 2012, you could already imagine that he could be really good, but that he'd be one of the 10 best players in the world eight years later? That was of course difficult to predict due to his age.

"If he had the ball at his feet and started to dribble, phew, it was as quick as lightning. As such, he was the same player he is today, of course at a different level in terms of quality.

"Klopp took him to a completely different level. He generally seemed very introverted to us and he's humble, you can see that from all the charitable work he does for his home country."

Dahne also believes that Mane's team-mate Alisson is currently the best goalkeeper in the world. He added: "I like Alisson very much, he is the complete package - very good with the ball at his feet.

"In addition, of course, there's [Marc-Andre] ter Stegen and - even if he has been viewed more critically in recent years - Manuel Neuer. I looked up at Neuer for years, he was the undisputed No.1 for a long time. But for me, Alisson is currently the best goalkeeper in the world."

Dahne, who now turns out for Polish side Wisla Płock, also spent time with RB Leipzig and represented Germany at youth level earlier in his career.

That saw him play alongside the likes of Joshua Kimmich and Emre Can and he gave an insight into the duo and their mentality, adding: "Kimmich at Leipzig was my most impressive team-mate. He was the team joker together with Diego Demme, but he's now an international star and you could have guessed that at the time.

"At an early age he was an absolute leader at Red Bull, he was always talking to fellow players, whether coaching, assisting them or criticising them if necessary. It was impressive for such a young player, I wouldn't have dared to do that at that age.

"He was always respectful but even then he had this extreme will to win. If he lost a training game, he was angry afterwards. He smacked the balls away and you could see that he was p*ssed off. Of course, this is the case with many players, no one likes to lose, but he just wanted to win everything and at all times."

On Dortmund midfielder Can, Dahne said: "With Emre you could already tell at the time that he was very mature. He was not only a captain but also a leader, and he showed that on the pitch. It speaks for itself if you have played for Bayern, Liverpool, Juventus and now BVB.

"I don't think you can compare [his leadership skills] since we were all teenagers. A speech by a young person is different to a speech by a seasoned Bundesliga professional. Nevertheless, he would speak in the dressing room one time or another and it was clear to me that he could go a long way because he had the right mix of attributes."