Whether he likes it or not, Sadio Mane brings even more star quality to the Bayern Munich ranks. - © DFL
Whether he likes it or not, Sadio Mane brings even more star quality to the Bayern Munich ranks. - © DFL

Sadio Mane: Bayern Munich's reluctant star set to shine in the Bundesliga


Sadio Mane goes into his Bundesliga debut with superstar billing, but Bayern Munich's new forward views himself somewhat differently.

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Mane, 30, established himself as one of football's biggest names during a six-season stint at Liverpool. And while the African Player of the Year admits the "entire population of Senegal" will be rooting for him when Bayern kick off the 2022/23 Bundesliga campaign at Eintracht Frankfurt on Friday, he won't let being the 'star attraction' faze him.

"People say that about me, but I don't see myself as a global star at all," Mane told the Bayern website.

"I don't know where to start with that phrase. All I care about is being part of the team. I do everything for that. I want to go to the limit for my teammates: score goals, provide assists and win games. I'm here to give my absolute best for Bayern Munich."

Watch: Sadio Mane - the Bundesliga's newest superstar

Mane did just that on his competitive debut in the 2022 Supercup. The Senegal international scored with his first shot on goal, and had a further two efforts ruled out for offside as Bayern beat RB Leipzig 5-3. He's now two from two in Bayern colours, having opened his account in a pre-season friendly victory over DC United in July.

"I want to do my best here every day in training and in matches - for the team and the fans," reitereated Mane, before sharing his sensibility to Bayern's Mia san mia - Bavarian dialect for 'we are who we are' - motto.

"For me, this 'Mia san mia' means that the team always comes first. It's the togetherness that counts, not the individual. That's what makes FC Bayern so special.

"I can identify with this philosophy very easily because I'm firmly convinced this is the path to success. Identification is the key. That's why I didn't hesitate a second when I had the opportunity to move to Munich."

Watch: Mane lifted the Supercup after scoring on his competitive Bayern debut

Mane has signed a three-year deal at Bayern through to 30 June 2025. He totalled 120 goals and 38 assists in 269 games for Liverpool - winning English Premier League, UEFA Champions League and FA Cup titles along the way - and previously played across the Bavarian-Austrian border for Red Bull Salzburg.

One of the most romantic spots in Austria, it was where he first fell for Bayern.

"When I was at Salzburg, I watched a lot of Bayern games, and even after I moved to England, I always kept an eye on the Bundesliga.

"I've actually been to the city several times, with friends. And once we were at the Allianz Arena, at a Champions League game against Arsenal. At that time, I simply couldn't imagine playing there myself one day.

"Now I want to bring all my experience to the team and help make it even stronger so that together we can all achieve our goals."

Watch: Mane the humble star

Historically, winning the Bundesliga is the minimum requirement at Bayern. The Bavarians have succeeded in doing that on a record 31 occasions, including an unprecedented 10 times in a row since 2012/13. They are also record DFB Cup (20) and DFL Supercup (eight) winners, and got their decorated hands on a sixth UEFA Champions League in 2019/20.

Mane isn't a betting man - he prefers to "give back" and invest his money in charitable endeavours closer to home - but has accepted a wager at his new club. If he helps Bayern lift the Champions League - the competition he won with Liverpool in 2018/19, whilst reaching two more finals - "I'll dye my hair red!"

It's about as flamboyant as Mane - who currently sports a blonde flash - is willing to go. Unless, of course, he is on the football pitch, tying opposition defenders in knots, producing goals and inspiring youngsters in Munich, his native Bambali and beyond.

Watch: Mane reacts to winning African Player of the Year for the second time

"The fact that children climb trees especially for me motivates me immensely, of course," Mane said, acknowledging the younger Bayern fans who have found a novel way to catch a glimpse of their new No.17 at the club's Säbener Straße training ground.

"I still remember today that as a child, I admired great players and wanted to be like them. That's why it's very important to me to make children happy with my play."

It might not be to Mane's taste, but he is undoubtedly a star in the eyes of children and grown-ups alike. And that star power will only burn brighter as Senegal's all-time top scorer starts banging in the goals in the red of Bayern, in the Bundesliga.

Chris Mayer-Lodge