Liverpool have proven to be masters of extracting every possible drop of value from the transfer market over recent years. It works both ways too, with selling players for the maximum amount possible just as important as purchasing bargain additions for Jurgen Klopp’s squad.
The deal most occupying thoughts of Kopites at present is the potential exit of Sadio Mane. The Senegalese international has been with the Reds for six seasons, scoring enough goals to become their 14th top scorer of all time. Bayern Munich have reportedly offered a. 25million package (of £ 21m plus add-ons) for his services but Liverpool have rejected it.
It’s easy to see why. They sold Rhian Brewster to Sheffield United for £ 23.5million and Dominic Solanke joined Bournemouth for £ 19million. Granted, those players had the vast majority of their careers in front of them, but they also had a combined eight starts and one goal for the club between them. In that light, it’s fair to ask if Mane is worth far, far more than what Bayern have offered.
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Of course, the German champions would not have expected their opening gambit to have worked, they were merely setting out their stall with a ballpark figure which they hoped would be deemed vaguely acceptable. As they sold Thiago Alcantara to Liverpool for £ 25million when he was of similar age and entering the final year of his contract as Mane is, you can see why they set their opening offer at the same mark.
However, for all his spectacular abilities, Thiago has had troubles with injuries over the years. The most minutes he accumulated in any of his seven seasons in Bavaria was 3,524, a mark which Mane has passed in each of the last four campaigns. The Liverpool forward’s goal record is more important when trying to evaluate a fair price, as putting the ball away counts for plenty in the transfer market.
Goals pay the rent and Sadio does his share. He may never have been the Reds’ top scorer in any single season, but his consistency is largely unrivalled. Mane is the only player to have scored 10-or-more goals in every single Premier League campaign in which they have taken part when having competed in at least eight. That reliable level of goal return must carry a premium.
A far better comparison than Thiago would be Eden Hazard. He left Chelsea for Real Madrid when down to the final 12 months of his deal for a fee believed to be at least £ 89million plus add-ons. As the Belgian has spent the equivalent of 37 full matches on the pitch across his first three seasons in Spain, the trigger for those additional fees may never be met. Still, that’s not the fault of his former club who managed to extract a sizeable sum for a broadly similar player to Mane in 2019.
With Bayern £ m 25million offer in mind, it’s worth looking back even further. Ten years ago, Robin van Persie decided he’d rather play for Manchester United than see out the final season of his Arsenal contract, so he moved north at the age of 29 in exchange for £ 22.5million. As that was 2012, Mane has to be worth more, right? Fortunately, we have a method we can use to help determine this.
Paul Tomkins and Graeme Riley devised a system called the Transfer Price Index (TPI). By calculating the average price of a Premier League signing each season, they are then able to see how values have shifted in England across the last three decades. Inflation moves far more quickly in football than it does in the real world so it’s important to acknowledge that when assessing club spending.
In 2021/22, a Premier League transfer cost 4.45 times what it did in 2012/13, the season in which van Persie joined United. This means that his £ 22.5million fee from the time would have equated to almost exactly £ 100million this season. That’s pretty similar to the fee Real paid for Hazard, wouldn’t you say?
The reality is that Liverpool will not be able to command as much money for Mane. He is a little older than van Persie and Hazard and the losses clubs suffered thanks to the pandemic lockdown mean transfer prices may become depressed. But it also shows that Bayern were way off the mark with their initial bid and the Reds are right to hold out for far more money. A player with Mane’s excellent record for availability and goal scoring reliability does not come around very often.