The Senegal forward was almost tempted to Old Trafford but says Jurgen Klopp helped convince him Merseyside was the right destination
Sadio Mane has come a long way since joining Liverpool three years ago - but things could have been very different if he had signed for Manchester United.

And while that may sound like a Liverpool fan’s horror story, it wasn’t far from coming true.

Ahead of Saturday’s Champions League final with Tottenham, the 27-year-old admitted that he came close to signing for United after his final season with Southampton.

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“I was really, really close because I even met up with them,” he told the Mirror.

“So I was coming, I was there and I spoke with the boss who was there before (Louis van Gaal).

“They made an offer, but in the same week, [Jurgen] Klopp called me.

“He said: ‘I think it’s the right club. The right coach for you, and I think it’s better that you go to Liverpool’.

“For me I think it was the right time as well. I said, ‘I am going to Liverpool.’”

In a blistering 2015-16 season with Southampton, Mane caught the attention of the Premier League’s biggest clubs with some standout performances, including scoring a brace against Liverpool and a hat-trick against Manchester City.

Some fans at the time joked that Klopp signed Mane just so Liverpool wouldn’t have to play against him - and Mane enjoyed the suggestion, saying the theory could have some truth to it.

“At that time, leaving Southampton, I saw many clubs, but I thought Liverpool was the right club for me,” he said.

“I played against Liverpool, I played against City, United, every team and I scored a lot against Liverpool when I was at Southampton, but still I thought this club is my club!

“The boss (Klopp) was at Liverpool and yet I always scored against them. I think he thought: ‘He’s always killing us, so let’s buy him!’ Yeah, just to stop me scoring against Liverpool – so it was good for us both!”

When Liverpool endured a sluggish start to the 2018-19 season, there were rumours that Mane and strike partner Mohamed Salah had suffered a breakdown in their relationship.

It had been suggested that there was a growing conflict between the two players but Mane laughed off these suggestions, adding that any rivalry between them was totally friendly.

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“This kind of thing, it happens in football,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter if I score or not as long as the team scores.

“Some people want to say it's a rivalry, but I think that’s what makes football so exciting – a rivalry. But it really doesn’t matter to me. Honest!"