Liverpool have the ideal Bayern Munich trading chip as FSG can make a transfer swap that no one is discussing
The FSG has already replaced Sadio Mané. It might not look like it, given how crucial the 30-year-old was in Liverpool’s intense clash, but it masked the underlying reality: Luis Díaz was signed to take his place in the team.
It took a very specific set of circumstances to prolong Mane’s presence in Liverpool’s starting squad. He really only ended up playing in midfield out of necessity, with Jürgen Klopp unable to bring in Diogo Jota or Roberto Firmino at the right time due to injuries. Meanwhile, the former Southampton man happens to be aware of the role, having recently returned from the pinnacle of Africa Cup of Nations victory with Senegal from a more central position.
If anyone had suggested Mané as a long-term attacking solution before this series of unlikely events, he would have been laughed out of town. The plan was clear and involved a gradual handover on the left flank. Díaz was the chosen successor.
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Had it not been for this Mané revival, the move to Bayern Munich which is now announced would have been Julian Ward’s first masterclass. Finding a buyer for an aging star with big salary demands is far from an easy task, especially with only one year remaining on the contract. Instead, Liverpool fans are worried about how FSG will find a replacement.
It is true that Liverpool will have to return to the transfer market in the event of departure. While Díaz is the heir to the left wing, the very fact that Mané became so crucial last season is evidence of a relative lack of quality depth elsewhere on the frontline. However, there is no pressure on FSG to carry out an identical replacement: the long-term plan in terms of renewal of the attack does not need to be modified.
As such, a left foot that can play on the right wing might still be the priority. With Díaz, Liverpool have Jota who can play on the left. The Portuguese star also serves as an option in midfield, while Firmino also remains at the club in this role. This leaves Mohamed Salah as an outlier.
Turning 30 in the next fortnight and his long-term future at Liverpool uncertain, Salah cannot be counted on forever. Yet there is no clear heir in the ranks. There are high hopes for Kaide Gordon, but he’s far too raw to be a direct replacement. Harvey Elliott’s future seems to lie in midfield. If FSG go big with Mane’s money, they could actually ‘replace’ the star who isn’t leaving yet.
And it turns out that FSG could do more than use the money from any Mané transfer. They could turn the whole situation to their advantage, using the in-demand star as a bargaining chip. Serge Gnabry has been mentioned a lot, but it has more to do with how he fits the profile of the outgoing Liverpool man. Robert Lewandowski is surely a non-starter. But a much less discussed swap deal could work well for everyone.
The man in question is Leroy Sané. Liverpool know him well, having conceded to him four times in five Premier League appearances during his Manchester City days. And while Bayern Munich may be reluctant to part ways with the German just starting to find his feet in Bavaria, FSG know they have a powerful negotiating tool at their disposal.
As a left foot, Sané would not be a natural successor to Mané, just as such a replacement would be nominally satisfying. Instead, he could be deployed on the left, with an eye on Salah’s ultimate replacement. In the meantime, his positional versatility would allow Klopp to deploy him on the front line.
At 26, Sané is right on the edge of what FSG likes to do business. But there’s a lot to like about a swap deal involving the former Man City man; it certainly makes a lot more sense than bringing a 33-year-old Lewandowski to Liverpool on sky-high wages. Of all of Bayern Munich’s potential trades, this one might just be the shrewdest.