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Mané just gave 2026 hint by showing Liverpool ‘mini Mourinho’ with Klopp trait

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Four years is a very long time in football. That holds especially true for managers, most of whom will have been sacked or else pursued a more ambitious move comfortably within this time frame. As such, Jürgen Klopp’s commitment of another four years to Liverpool is a huge deal — but it does not mean that FSG can rest on their laurels, and Sadio Mané might just have given them a helping hand.

Mané, of course, has gone to Bayern Munich. Liverpool will be happy enough with the eventual terms of the sale, making their money back on a 30-year-old with only a year left on his deal, but Klopp will not have been particularly eager to cash in. There can be little doubt that the player had his head turned by the prospect of a ‘new challenge’.

Klopp himself is no stranger to turning the heads of potential new signings. Most famously, Virgil van Dijk was utterly sold on a move to Liverpool, to the point where Southampton ultimately had little choice but to sanction an eventual transfer. Chelsea and Manchester City were powerless to hijack the deal.

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A recent survey of Bundesliga players found that Klopp was considered the best manager in the world by more than a third of the league, gathering more votes than any other coach. Plenty of potential transfer targets have spoken of how it would be a dream to play under him. He has major personal allure to add to the pull of playing for Liverpool — a factor especially important in light of FSG’s wage model, which cannot compete financially with the most lucrative offers.

With this in mind, the identity of the man who successfully turned Mané’s head is potentially of interest, not least because Bayern Munich are only offering him a modest increase on his Liverpool salary. It seems that Julian Nagelsmann has something of the Klopp about him.

In some ways, Mané’s comments from his maiden Bayern Munich press conference are little more than the expected stock answers. But given that money is clearly not the primary factor in this transfer, the remarks ring true, and make for interesting reading:

“When they [Nagelsmann and sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić] explained to me what their ideas were, I was fascinated and could see myself as part of the project right away. I didn’t have to think twice, I accepted almost immediately.”

This could have been lifted from an interview with any number of Klopp signings at Liverpool. The former Borussia Dortmund coach has that interpersonal touch to go with his footballing ideas, and the combination makes him part of the true coaching elite. Nagelsmann, in many ways, seems like the successor to his throne.

A young German coach with gegenpressing at the heart of his vision, his journey has already intertwined with Liverpool’s. Back in 2017/18, having taken Hoffenheim to the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history, Nagelsmann lost out to Klopp in the play-off round — when a certain Trent Alexander-Arnold announced himself on the scene.

Since then, Liverpool have not only won the Champions League, but collected every major trophy available. Nagelsmann’s path has not been so trophy-laden, but his personal trajectory has been similarly astronomic.

Proving the rule that four years is a long time for managers, he has made a rapid rise through the ranks. From Hoffenheim, where he was dubbed a ‘mini Mourinho’ by Tim Wiese, he left for RB Leipzig, having spent three years at the helm of the senior side. Two years in East Germany prepared him for a move to Bayern Munich, where he just claimed the league title in his first season.

Obviously, the league title is little more than a formality at Bayern these days, but there can be no doubting Nagelsmann’s credentials. First Hoffenheim and then Leipzig were treated to unprecedented success under his rule. Still just 34, he has years ahead of him to hone his craft. And while the Allianz Arena looks likely to provide a more stable home for him over the next few seasons, a ‘new challenge’ in 2026 sounds like exactly the kind of thing which might appeal.

Like the rest of the Bundesliga, Nagelsmann has grown up watching Klopp as a trailblazer for German coaching. His Bayern side are considered one of the most stylistically similar to Liverpool in the world. But as part of the new wave of innovators, he is leaving his own mark too.

When 2026 rolls around, assuming Klopp cannot be persuaded to stay longer, Liverpool may be looking at the perfect candidate to succeed him. The ideal blend of continuity and progression, Nagelsmann will have had time to develop his own ideas by then, and might just be sick of strolling to the Bundesliga title every season. And with Mané pledging to be his old side’s ‘number one fan forever’, perhaps he could put in a word. A huge contrast in style to José Mourinho, FSG may nonetheless hope they have found another ‘special one’.



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