Liverpool striker Sadio Mane is the latest in a long line of players to claim he rejected a move to Manchester United in favour of a move to Anfield.
Mane – who was at Southampton – claims the move to sign him was made in January 2016, when Louis van Gaal was the manager.
Mane said: “Honestly, I could not believe it. Some teams wanted me – Manchester (United) – the wrong team wanted me. Of course, I spoke with Van Gaal, and they even made an offer. But for me it was not the right club, it was not the right moment. To feel this – the right moment, the right coach, the right club.”
He’s not the first and he won’t be the last player to claim that United were interested in an attempt to curry favour with Liverpool fans. It’s a tactic even Jurgen Klopp has tried.
Clearly it doesn’t matter even if it’s not true. There is an obvious line of reporting here, that Liverpool do not generate enough interest on their own and therefore need to include Manchester United in conversations at any time.
Perhaps they’re encouraged to do so by the club.
You can see why, though. It would make sense for Mane to make the claim.
In May, there were suggestions that Manchester United were interested in Fabinho, although these had been repeatedly rubbished over the last year. But when the Brazilian midfielder signed for Liverpool, fan website EmpireOfTheKop and writer Jordan Chamberlain wrote this article with the headline “Why Fabinho rejected Manchester United revealed”.
The midfielder himself later admitted that there was never an offer from United, when pressed on it from ESPN. Don’t be surprised to hear him change his tune in the future. Despite the admission, Chamberlain’s article wasn’t amended. It remains, with the headline, in order to generate traffic.
When Roberto Firmino was signed by Liverpool, the club briefed the press that they had beaten off interest from United. United, however, signed Anthony Martial that summer. The following season, even a rapidly declining and much-criticised Wayne Rooney scored more goals in all competitions than Firmino.
Don’t be surprised to hear more fairy stories in the coming weeks as Liverpool desperately try and project themselves as the bigger club.