Despite all the high profile moves that occurred this summer, one of the few transfers that Jorge Mendes didn’t take a portion of – as far as we know – could well turn out to be one of the best value purchases.
Sadio Mané, signed on deadline day to help ease the loss of creativity and goals after Adam Lallana’s £25m departure to Liverpool; will compete with Dusan Tadic, Jay Rodriguez or central midfielders Steven Davis & James Ward-Prowse on occasion for the wide berths, and his impressive performance against Arsenal midweek in the Carling Cup indicated that spending just 40% of the fee received for their England international captain will prove to be shrewd business.
Former team tactics
Boasting an impressive goal ratio from the left flank at Red Bull Salzburg, Mané is already well schooled in pressing from the front and the quick counter attacks down the wings the St Mary’s faithful have become accustomed to over the past four seasons.
RB are one of the most effective teams at closing high up the pitch in Europe, and Mane reaped the rewards against teams such as Ajax and Bayern Munich (albeit in a winter friendly), both of whom the fulcrum of the controversial Red Bull football galaxy have beaten in the past couple of seasons, Mane scoring twice himself against the German champions.
While a big loss for the Austrians, they are dominant both on the pitch and financially in their division, having spent more than all of their competitors combined this summer, and his absence in fact creates a first team spot for other exciting prospects such as the excellently coiffured talent Valentin Lazaro.
Key aspects of his game
Returning to Mane, his speed and directness in the opposition half as well as powerful finishing ability on either foot make him a terrifying prospect for Premier League full backs.
A strong relationship with Graziano Pelle will be key, but luckily Mane played with a fairly similar target man last season with Alan, who has plundered 54 goals in 80 games for RB. While less good in the area and a little more mobile than Pelle, the Brazilian can still serve as a good point of reference for Mané, who signed for the Austrians for a fairly considerable fee of 4m euros from Metz back in 2012.
While nothing is certain in this wonderful game, I’m picking out Mane already as a massive purchase for The Saints, who might be able to confound all critics (the club were favourites for relegation at certain points in pre-season) and secure European football in Ronald Keoman‘s debut season.