Just in case England fans needed any extra incentive to wildly raise their expectations once the Three Lions reach the latter stages of tournaments, their opponents in their 2022 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 match are missing one of the best players in the world.
Sadio Mane is well known to English fans, having impressed in the Premier League at Southampton before becoming a key figure in Jurgen Klopp’s re-establishment of Liverpool as a major force in domestic and European football.
Many supporters felt that Mane deserved to win the 2022 Ballon d’Or, but his position as runner-up to Champions League winner Karim Benzema was still a reflection of the brilliance that would have enhanced the World Cup.
Why isn’t Mane in Qatar? When can we next expect to see him on the pitch? How have Senegal managed without him? Here’s how it looks.
Why is Sadio Mane not playing for Senegal?
Mane limped off through injury in Bayern Munich’s 6-1 win over Werder Bremen on November 8. Bayern manager Julian Nagelsmann said Mane “took a knock to the head of his tibia,” adding: “It’s always uncomfortable. He has to have an X-ray. I hope nothing is wrong”.
French newspaper L’Equipe previously claimed Mane’s injury was severe enough to rule him out of the World Cup as a result of a tendon injury that will keep him out for “several weeks,” but there appeared to be relatively good news on the eve of the finals.
“We will have to rely on playing the first games without Sadio and win without Sadio,” said Abdoulaye Sow, a board member of the Senegal football federation (FSF). “No one would have wanted it, but that’s what’s happened to us.”
With Mane’s chances of playing any part in proceedings in doubt, Senegal accepted on November 17 that the 30-year-old’s recovery would take longer than hoped and he would be out of the World Cup.
How long is Sadio Mane out?
There is no projected timeline for Mane’s return but Bayern announced that he was due to start rehabilitation in Munich days after his procedure.
“Sadio Mane underwent successful surgery,” the club said shortly after his absence from the World Cup was confirmed. “During the operation, a tendon was re-attached to the head of his right fibula.”
The good news for Mane and his club is that he has more than six weeks to recover if he is to take part in their next Bundesliga match, when they visit third-placed RB Leipzig on January 20 2023.
Who replaced Sadio Mane?
Mane’s talented teammates have been sharing the goals around as they continue to prosper without the country’s 34-goal all-time top scorer.
Each of Senegal’s last 10 goals at the World Cup have been scored by different players, even including own goals – and their total of five different scorers at this tournament represents the most they’ve had in a single edition.
Villarreal’s Boulaye Dia has tended to be the furthest-forward player during their three matches at the finals so far, starting each game and scoring the opener in the 3-1 win over hosts Qatar.
Famara Diedhiou, who plays for Turkish club Alanyaspor, started in attack with Dia in that game and also scored, bringing his tally to an impressive 11 goals in 26 games for his country.
The presence of Monaco livewire Krepin Diatta and Watford winger Ismaila Sarr — a scorer in the 2-1 win over Ecuador — means Senegal still have the pace, skill and passing ability to potentially torment defenders, while 22-year-old attacking midfielder Iliman Ndiaye is one of the brightest prospects in English second tier the Championship, playing for high-flying Sheffield United.
Sadio Mane contract, wages and transfer fee
Bayern tempted Mane with a staggering pay packet of around £360,000 ($440,000 per week) when he left Liverpool at the end of the 2021-22 season, according to The Mirror.
Mane was widely reported to have been earning around £100,000 ($122,000) each week at Anfield, and the outlet previously claimed that the prolific forward had been seeking a raise to around £400,000 ($489,000) a week during contract negotiations with the club.
Although no transfer fee was announced by Bayern, The Athletic claimed the German champions agreed to pay a guaranteed £27.5 million (€32m/$33.7m), with a potential further £7.5m (€8.7m/$9.2m) to come in bonuses.
While he was at Liverpool, Mane’s net worth was estimated to be around $25m (£25m), according to Celebrity Net Worth.