Thomas Tuchel believes Sadio Mane can still emerge as a key player for Bayern Munich and is only a goal away from transforming his fortunes.
When Mane made the move from Liverpool to Bavaria last summer, it was seen as a transfer home run for the German champions. The Senegalese star was coming off one of the best seasons of his career and was acquired for the relatively modest outlay of £35million.
But while his absence on Merseyside has been profoundly felt, his impact at the Allianz Arena has left a lot to be desired. A combination of injuries and poor form has resulted in him finding the net just 11 times in his first 29 Bayern appearances.
That has also resulted in the ex-Liverpool star dropping out of the starting line-up, coming off the bench in all but one game since his return to fitness. Frustration with a lack of minutes is reported to have come to a head last month, when recently sacked boss Julian Nagelsmann only offered 13 minutes against PSG.
Nagelsmann had planned to build his Bayern side around Mane. But with Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting thriving in his absence, he was relegated to the bench. Choupo-Moting actually found the net during the 2-0 win over PSG, but that did little to quash Mane’s angry response at the perceived snub.
The 30-year-old is alleged to have fired a furious tirade towards Nagelsmann, who was relieved of his duties for failing to get the best out of his players just week later. Tuchel has since replaced his compatriot, beating Borussia Dortmund 4-2 in his first game in charge.
Mane was forced to settle for a place on the bench however, with Tuchel bringing him on during the second half of the crucial victory. But the new Bayern boss is adamant that the forward still has the chance to establish himself as one of his most important players.
“I know him well from England. There’s no question that Sadio is an absolutely top player”. Tuchel Said.
“He scored 20, 30 goals every year for Liverpool and was an absolute key player there. His quality is beyond any doubt”.
“Even at his age, it always takes time to acclimate after a change of clubs. That can take time. There’s no doubt about his quality and what it can bring us. It’s about trust and patience so he can get back into the rhythm. A goal usually helps the confidence.”