Sadio Mane set for awkward meeting with Steven Gerrard on Saudi Pro League debut

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Sadio Mane has joined Al-Nassr (Image: Getty Images)
Sadio Mane has joined Al-Nassr (Image: Getty Images)

Sadio Mane's first league game for Al-Nassr will be against Steven Gerrard's Al-Ettifaq.

Mane, 31, completed his transfer to Al-Nassr on Tuesday - just a year after leaving Liverpool for Bayern Munich. The Senegal international will play alongside Cristiano Ronaldo in Saudi Arabia, with the new Pro League campaign starting later this month.

Mane's move to Al-Nassr marks a stunning decline for the Ballon d'Or runner-up, who's gone from being one of the Premier League's standout players to a Saudi mercenary in the space of just over a year. Perhaps Mane should've listened to Gerrard, who advised him to stay at Liverpool after their 2022 Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid.

Yet Gerrard's career has also gone in the wrong direction. The Liverpool legend was the manager of Aston Villa when he gave Mane the advice, but he's since taken a pay day in Saudi Arabia after receiving the boot from his Premier League employers.

Gerrard urged Mane to stay at Liverpool in May 2022 when speculation about his future was rife. The former Reds captain told BT Sport: "I know there is a bit of noise around Mane... Why would you want to leave this Liverpool team? Because you know that they are going to be competitive in the business end of the season."

Marcel Sabitzer completes Man Utd transfer after last-minute deadline day dash eideziqkeiqhhinvMarcel Sabitzer completes Man Utd transfer after last-minute deadline day dash

Mane ignored that advice and signed for Bayern, where he struggled to make much of an impression. He found the net just seven times in the Bundesliga, struggled with a leg injury, and had a notable bust-up with team-mate Leroy Sane.

Mane seemed destined to leave Bayern all summer and a lot of fans will be disappointed to see a player of his quality now playing in Saudi Arabia. It's believed Al-Nassr have paid £24million for Mane, with the player earning around £650,000-a-week.

Sadio Mane set for awkward meeting with Steven Gerrard on Saudi Pro League debutMane will make his Saudi Pro League debut against Steven Gerrard's Al-Ettifaq (Getty Images)

Are you surprised about Sadio Mane's move to Al-Nassr? Let us know in the comments below!

Al-Nassr's Saudi Pro League campaign kicks off away to Al-Ettifaq in Dammam on August 14. Jordan Henderson is expected to play in that game after he was snapped up by Gerrard. Mane will also get to play against fellow Liverpool icons Fabinho and Roberto Firmino later in the season after they joined Al-Ittihad and Al-Ahli Saudi respectively.

Jurgen Klopp has admitted "he doesn't know what went wrong" for Mane at Bayern. He said: "When Sadio left us he was on a high, in really good shape, a world-class player, no shadow of a doubt. But the new environment, new situation, new expectations maybe.

"I didn’t speak to Sadio about it, we had contact but not about this. It’s how it sometimes is in football. To fulfil your full potential everything has to have fallen into place pretty much. A bit of luck helps as well, and obviously, that wasn’t the case."

Thomas Tuchel has discussed Mane's exit. He said: "We had a big hug. We both agreed that we don’t like what’s happening now but we both agreed it’s the best in this situation. Sometimes things don’t work out the way everyone wants them to work out.

"I had a very good relationship with him always and that will stay. That was said in our last talk - a big hug and a smile on our faces."

Tom Blow

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