Jurgen Klopp has hailed Sadio Mane as one of Liverpool’s greatest ever players following confirmation of his exit to join Bayern Munich.
The Senegal captain hinted at his desire to leave Liverpool following the club’s UEFA Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid and his €41million (£35.2m) move to the Bundesliga champions was confirmed on Wednesday.
Liverpool have already made a move to the transfer market to prepare for Mane’s departure, with Benfica’s Darwin Nunez coming out, but Klopp has admitted that it was an important moment for the club to honor the 30-year-old.
“Great moment. No one needs to try to pretend otherwise,” he told the club’s website. “One of the best players in Liverpool is leaving and we have to admit how important this is.
“He goes with our gratitude and our love.
“But we must not focus on what we have lost now, but on what we have been fortunate to have.
“Goals scored, trophies won; a legend, of course, but also a icon of modern Liverpool.”
Mane has achieved all he can during his six years at Merseyside, including the Champions League in 2018-19 and the Premier League in 2019-2020, forming a terrific attacking team alongside Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.
While the rest of the team was instrumental in the victory, Klopp thanked Mane for helping to make it all happen soon after he settled in Anfield following his arrival from Southampton.
The Liverpool manager said of Mane: “Ever since he started coming in the door, he has made us feel better.
“If someone had told us at the time what he would continue to offer and benefit from the team, I’m not sure he would have been able to understand it at the time. Not the least of it.
“To be good at a time like this and to continue to improve season after season – no matter how high he has been in the past – is an example to any player anywhere in the world that professionalism and dedication leads to reward.”
The German coach also made it clear that he had no strong feelings for Mane about his decision to leave and told him to continue growing as a footballer.
Klopp added: “I fully respect his decision and I’m sure our fans are doing it. If you like LFC, you should love Sadio – which can be negotiated. It is possible to do this while accepting our loss is a benefit for Bayern.
“We do not wish him any success in every game he plays, unless it is against us. His star will continue to rise, I have no doubt.”