Liverpool star Sadio Mane has been told he “has to leave” the club in the summer transfer window and join Barcelona or Real Madrid. That’s the verdict of Mady Toure, who founded the Generation Foot academy in Dakar where Mane once trained.
The winners of the Senegal Premier League last season, Generation Foot have also previously trained Papiss Cisse, Diafra Sakho and current Watford winger Ismaila Sarr.
Mane, however, is their most famous former student and recently finished fourth in the voting for the 2019 Ballon d’Or behind only all-time greats Lionel Messi, the winner, and Cristiano Ronaldo and Liverpool team-mate Virgil van Dijk.
The Senegalese winger has established himself as one of the best forwards in the world in recent years, playing a crucial part in the Reds’ Champions League success last season with the same club now sat 14 points clear atop the Premier League table with a game in hand.
Yet the 27-year-old has long been linked with a move to Real Madrid, calling such speculation “a pleasure” last summer, and Toure thinks he should seek a move to one of La Liga’s two biggest clubs later this year.
“The fact Sadio has won the African Ballon d’Or will spur him on to win the European one too,” Toure told the Guardian with Mane having recently been named CAF African Player of the Year, beating Mohamed Salah and Riyad Mahrez to the earlier award earlier this month.
“That’s his objective. Sadio always told me he would become one of the best players in the world.
“He said that to me and now he is among them but he has to leave Liverpool now.
“It’s his last year and he has to leave Liverpool when it’s up to go to Barcelona or Real Madrid.”
Mane, who has 15 goals and 11 assists in 29 appearances this season, is under contract at Anfield until 2023 and is paid a handsome £150,000-a-week.
He has managed a total of 74 goals and 33 assists in 152 matches on Merseyside since a £34million switch from Southampton in 2016.
And former Chelsea striker Demba Ba, formerly Mane’s team-mate for the Senegalese national team, insists the Liverpool talisman should have beaten Lionel Messi to the Ballon d’Or last month.
“These days we speak so much about statistics – I believe that he had the individual and collective stats to have won the Ballon d’Or,” Ba told the Independent of Mane.
“I always said if you swap Mane’s stats in 2019 with Messi’s, Messi still would have won it, even with fewer goals.
“The fact that Mane won the Champions League, the Super Cup, he played an unbelievable season and finished joint top goal-scorer in the Premier League, it’s crazy!
“Not only that, he was decisive in all of the games. I believe he could’ve won it.
“I’ve had this talk with a lot of players. They say ‘yeah, but Messi is a better player’. Of course, everyone knows that!
“Even if Sadio comes and tells me that he’s better than Messi, I’d slap him in his face and tell him ‘shut up boy, sit down!’ But in 2019, in my perspective, he had a better season.”
Meanwhile, Mane appeared to hint at how happy he is at Liverpool when reacting to Jurgen Klopp signing a new contract last month.
“It was a really good day for the club!” he said of Klopp’s new deal, which commits the German coach to the club until 2024.
“I was delighted to see all the signings and we are really happy to have the boss and his assistants here for a longer time.
“I would struggle to describe just how good and how successful he has been for Liverpool. Everybody can see what he has done for this club, for this city and the quality he has as a manager.
“There are a lot of good managers in Europe but what I can say is that our manager always has the right words and the right things to manage his team, especially knowing how to deal with his team.
“I would always trust his influence on the team. He is a winner and I would say he is the best in the world.”