It took Sadio Mane five minutes to get off the mark for Bayern Munich on Wednesday night.
A penalty against D.C. United on his debut was followed by two disallowed goals as the German giants defeated the MLS side 6-2 in a preseason friendly.
Whatever happens from now until the end of the transfer window, Bayern Munich might just have pulled off the signing of this summer.
Few signings seemed as much of a sure thing as the one that took the 30-year-old Senegalese star from Liverpool to Bayern on a three-year deal.
While the exact transfer fee has not been provided by his new club, my sources say that the German champions will pay almost $33 million guaranteed with an additional potential $9 million in bonuses.
The move, completed several weeks ago, continues to be the talk of the German press. According to newspaper Bild, Mane will receive something in the $20 million range for each season, and $1.68 million per month.
There are few who would argue that he does not deserve it.
Mane spent the last eight years in the Premier League, first at Southampton, where he excelled for two seasons, and then at Liverpool, where he became an integral part of Jurgen Klopp’s team that won the Champions League, English Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, European Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup.
The transfer to Bayern was carried out with usual class that you would expect from Mane, with no unwanted media statements or falling out with Liverpool.
Mane’s career is unique in that it has been characterized by an almost continuous, unfussy improvement since his arrival at Austrian club RB Salzburg at the age of 22 from Metz of France.
On and off the pitch and beyond sporting matters, Mane has shown himself to be a person of principle and dignity.
His dedication to his country’s cause on the pitch is legendary, often going beyond the call of duty.
During the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year, Mane suffered a significant head injury during the round of 16 match against Cape Verde, after colliding with the opposition goalkeeper.
Mane, however, remained on the field for more than a quarter of an hour after the incident — enough time for him to score the opening goal of the match.
Liverpool sent a letter to FIFA asking that the Senegalese federation give the player at least five days off, which meant missing the quarter-finals. But in a delicate situation that could have affected his country’s chances of progression, Mane offered to sign a document that relieved the Senegalese Football Federation of all responsibility should he have been injured in the quarter-final match against Equatorial Guinea.
It was a fearless act that demonstrated his patriotism, not that his adoring fans needed any more proof of his commitment.
He, of course, went on to score the winning goal penalty against Egypt in the final and then several months later repeated the feat against the same opponents to send Senegal to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Off the pitch, Mane has been consistently committed to his country and his hometown of Bambali, where his donations and charity work have become the stuff of legend.
Over the years, he has often been seen spending time with family, friends and hometown residents. He avoids what he sees as unnecessary luxuries, preferring to help others.
His gestures of solidarity has seen him donate millions of dollars to build hospitals and schools, collaborate with an HIV prevention program and visit his hometown at every possible opportunity. His charity work also extends to other countries in Africa.
“I don’t need to show off fancy cars, big houses, travel or airplanes. I prefer that my people receive a little of what life has given me,” he famously said, repeating the sentiment on many occasions.
Mane became a hero at Anfield, as a footballer and as a human being. There is little doubt that the same will happen at Bayern.