In an alternate timeline, Sadio Mane is a starting inside forward for Tottenham Hotspur this season after signing in a blockbuster deal this past summer from Mauricio Pochettino’s old club Southampton. In this parallel universe, he’s banging in goals for Spurs left and right, much like what he’s doing currently for Liverpool, and Spurs are not only competing for top four, but are challenging Chelsea for the Premier League title.
It’s a beautiful dream, and one that, according to recent articles in the English media, nearly happened. Over the weekend, the Times reported (paywalled, but reprinted in the Daily Mail) that Mane met with Spurs in the summer at Spurs Lodge to discuss a transfer, but that deal was supposedly scuppered over Mane’s wage demands, reported to be extremely high.
We know what happened then. Mane signed with Liverpool, and Spurs went on to spend £30m for Moussa Sissoko on deadline day.
However, Mane’s agent has denied this account. In the Guardian, Bjorn Bezemer didn’t confirm or deny that a meeting between Mane and Spurs officials took place, but said that his eventual £34m transfer to Liverpool was done after careful consideration by his client, and money had little to do with it.
“Sadio had five offers in the summer and financially all of them were good. We wanted the right team, with the right coach at the right moment to arrive at the next level. That is the reason Sadio went to Anfield.”
Considering that Liverpool are a richer club that Spurs and have the ability to pay significantly more in wages to their players than Tottenham, I have a bit of a hard time believing Bezemer when he says that money wasn’t a factor. Money’s always a factor.
But I kind of doubt that a deal was ever that close. As has been the case for years now, Spurs always find it difficult to compete with the likes of clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool, and Chelsea for players like Mane — they simply don’t (yet) have the financial clout.
This report, coupled with Mane’s excellent season and recent performance against Spurs, is likely going to lead to wailing and gnashing of teeth among certain segments of Spurs fandom (much like Harry Redknapp’s now-apocryphal stories of the near-signings of Eden Hazard and Luis Suarez). But I’m choosing not to get too bent out of shape, even as I dream of Mane lining up alongside Christian Eriksen and Dele Alli behind Harry Kane and oh god now I’m crying you guys.