Berlin, Germany | Xinhua | Ahead of the friendly between Bayern Munich and Manchester City this Sunday in Green Bay, Wisconsin, one who won’t be around has hit the headlines.
While Pep Guardiola’s side is expected to count on new arrival Erling Haaland, Bayern manager Julian Nagelsmann will be missing Sadio Mane.
Being thousands of miles away, the 30-year-old has nevertheless triggered emotional outbursts among the Bavarians.
“Never in the club’s history have we had an African Footballer of the Year in our squad, can’t tell you how proud we are as he deserved the award,” Bayern chairman Oliver Kahn proudly stated on social media.
Congratulations from his Munich teammates flooded the mobile phone of the striker that helped his home country Senegal to win the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations in a penalty shootout against Egypt earlier this year.
“I thank the Senegalese people, and dedicate this trophy to the youth of my country,” the former Liverpool forward said, after receiving the prize at the CAF award ceremony in Morocco’s capital Rabat.
Mane not only beat Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Chelsea’s Edouard Mendy, but is increasingly turning into Bayern’s headline maker on the international stage.
To reduce travel, Bayern decided not to recall Mane back to the United States. The attacker is instead taking a shortcut back to Munich to meet his team early next week.
Along with Mane’s journey came enthusiastic comments from Bayern’s team leaders such as Joshua Kimmich.
“He might not be the one scoring 40 or 50 goals per season, but he is hungry for titles. He is someone leading the pack and a great character. It’s paramount to have him around,” the German international said.
Aside from the songs of praise, the striker is triggering a significant upswing regarding Bayern’s reputation, and not only in Africa. Millions of Asian fans are said to follow Mane to his new club with shirt sales increasing.
Former Bayern defender Sammy Kuffour has long demanded that Bayern sign an African star. “This is going to give Bayern and the German league a big push in Africa. Mane is one of Africa’s superstars,” the 45-year-old stated.
Kuffour is convinced the deal is going to increase the number of Bayern fans in Africa. “Many follow the Champions League and Bayern. In Ghana and Senegal, there are millions of Bayern fans, now numbers will grow further in many more countries.”
The 2022 award is Mane’s second time winning the prize, after doing so in 2019.
Fans in Germany eagerly wait for the 2022-23 season to start with Bayern in the German Super Cup final against RB Leipzig on July 30, before the Bundesliga opener against Eintracht Frankfurt on August 5.