Former Liverpool forward Sadio Mane will reportedly miss the World Cup after picking up an injury for Bayern Munich on Tuesday.
The Senegal forward was forced off with an apparent knee injury 20 minutes in to Bayern’s 6-1 Bundesliga win over Werder Bremen.
And reports in France, via L’Equipe, and Senegal on Wednesday morning suggest Mane will be out for “several weeks” and will subsequently miss the World Cup, which gets underway in Qatar at the end of next week.
As Senegal’s talisman, and the player who scored the penalty to secure their place in this year’s tournament, it’s a monumental blow for Mane and his country.
He is the star player in a Senegal side who many believe are in the midst of their ‘golden generation’, with Mane scoring the winning penalty as they beat Mohamed Salah‘s Egypt to win the Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year.
His absence from the tournament means he will miss out on a reunion with his former Liverpool team-mate Virgil van Dijk, with both Senegal and the Netherlands both drawn in Group A.
Liverpool supporters have reacted to heartbreaking news of Mane’s injury on social media.
That's tragic, especially considering he got his team to the finals. https://t.co/qoESF8D9kM
— LFCZA ?? (@LFCZA) November 9, 2022
Devastated for Sadio. Deserved the biggest stage
— keith costigan (@KeithCostigan) November 9, 2022
Heartbroken for Sadio Mane.
— Henry Jackson (@HenryJackson87) November 9, 2022
That is properly gutting. Plain to see how much effort Mane put into getting Senegal there, and what his country means to him. That's a sickener https://t.co/6tBlv15z1t
— Phil Greene (@iampgreene) November 9, 2022
Devastated for Sadio. ? https://t.co/oxYoGXI5N9
— Roopa Vyas ??????? (@LFC_RV) November 9, 2022
This is so cruel on Sadio. ? https://t.co/BMOfLRLzU3
— LFC NEWS (@LFCTransferNRS) November 9, 2022
Heartbreaking for Sadio. Won't be going to the World Cup in Qatar ? https://t.co/OifHkSYBNo
— Spion Kop (@TheKopHQ) November 9, 2022
The news comes days after Jurgen Klopp told reporters that injury problems prior to the World Cup were “obvious,” with such little turnaround time between players’ commitments for club and country.
“I don’t like..I hate this subject,” Klopp said.
“These problems were so clear – they were so clear – and nobody mentioned it one time until three, four weeks before the World Cup.
“Now all of a sudden players get injured and they say ‘oh, he cannot play the World Cup’.”
After six hugely successful years with Liverpool, during which Klopp developed him into one of the world’s best forwards, Mane made the decision to pursue a new challenge with Bayern Munich earlier this year.
His form has been mixed, but he has still managed 11 goals in his first 23 appearances for the club, with Bayern the only side to have won all six of their Champions League group games this season.
The news will only lead to more questions as to why Qatar were handed the tournament and why it is taking place during the middle of the season.
Come back stronger, Sadio.