To Sadio or not to Sadio? That is the question on the lips of many a Bundesliga Fantasy Manager following the arrival of Senegalese superstar Sadio Mane at Bayern Munich this summer.
bundesliga.com helps shed some light on the matter…
Like the latter trio, Mane has also been listed as a forward in Fantasy, given his record of 120 goals and 48 assists in 269 competitive appearances for Liverpool.
“I think I’m one of the lucky players who can play in three or four positions on the pitch,” Mane said at his official unveiling as a Bayern player.
Watch: Sadio Mane - the Bundesliga's new superstar
“I’m a player who is almost comfortable in all these positions. As long as the coach is happy to put me not in defence or as goalkeeper, I think I’ll be more than happy to play in any position for him and for the club as well.”
Whether coming in from the left or right, playing a more central role operating further forward as a striker post-Robert Lewandowski, one thing is certain: Mane will be close to the opposition penalty area at regular intervals and looks a safe bet to pick up big points.
It then becomes a question of whether he fits into your Fantasy budget. Should you throw him in straightaway when he is at his lowest price (still a steep 16M), even if he may need some time to adapt to the Bundesliga? Or should you wait for him to adapt and buy at a higher price?
Well, fortune favours the bold, and a player of Mane’s undoubted quality is likely to be successful wherever he plays. And history has shown that it pays to splurge your budget in attack.
For example, last season Manuel Neuer was the most expensive Fantasy goalkeeper (12.8M by the end of the season), but he only finished 10th overall in terms of points. Indeed, Lukas Hradecky, the highest-scoring stopper, ended up with 211.
Top-scoring defender Nico Schlotterbeck, the Freiburg defender now at Borussia Dortmund, scored 265. Compare that to the highest totals in midfield (410 – Christopher Nkunku) and among forwards (448 – Lewandowski), and it is clear that most of your cash should be reserved for positions further up the pitch.
Thomas Müller was the third-highest Fantasy scorer last term with 317 points, so you could feasibly create a front line of Mane, Müller and one more Bayern heavy hitter. It would set you back a pretty penny, but would surely pay off over the course of the season.
Whether or not you want three forwards from the same club is another matter entirely. Yes, Bayern were the top scorers last season, but having a spread of players at staggered intervals across a weekend is also helpful in case a team underperforms or a coach rotates his line-up unexpectedly.
Bayern's pre-season fixtures this month could give us an indication of how Julian Nagelsmann intends to set up his side, and if Mane proves an instant hit, he may well end up making the Fantasy decision for you.
More pre-season Fantasy tips:
Niko Kovac's top five Bayern moments
The Wolfsburg coach returns to his former club on Matchday 2 - bundesliga.com looks back on his successful collaboration with Bayern.
How will Leipzig line up in 2022/23?
While Christopher Nkunku leads the way, competition for places will be even fiercer than ever in Domenico Tedesco's first full season in charge.
How will Borussia Dortmund line up in 2022/23?
Erling Haaland has left for Manchester City; Edin Terzic has replaced Marco Rose as coach. How will Dortmund line up this term?