Saudi side Al Nassr confirmed the signing of Bayern Munich striker Sadio Mane on Tuesday as the Senegal star prepares to team up with five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo.
The twice African footballer of the year is the latest high profile player to join the cash-rich Saudi league.
“I’m really happy to be part of you guys, I can’t wait to see you,” Mane said in a video addressed to Al Nassr supporters on the club’s social media accounts.
Both clubs announced the transfer involving the former Liverpool star which German media estimated at around €30 million on a three-year deal with an annual salary for Mane of €40 million plus €10 million in results-based bonuses.
Earlier Tuesday Mane, 31, rued his departure with two years of his contract at Bayern remaining.
“Leaving Bayern hurts me. I would have wished for a different ending,” he told Sky Germany.
Those sentiments were echoed by Bayern boss Thomas Tuchel when he spoke in Singapore on the eve of his side’s friendly against Liverpool.
“We had a long, big hug and we both agreed that we don’t like what’s happening now, but we think it’s for the best in this situation,” said the Bayern coach.
“Sometimes things don’t work out as everybody wants it to work out. In person I have always had a very good relationship with him and this will stay.
“I can totally understand that he feels hurt and I also wouldn’t feel happy if things like this happened.
“Obviously it’s something that we didn’t bring into the full potential, which is my job and my responsibility, but in this particular situation, it was the best solution to untie the knot.”
Mane moves to the club that instigated the first coup of a raft of signings by Saudi clubs with the capture of Ronaldo on a four-year contract.
Mane won the Champions League and Premier League in six seasons with Liverpool and was a key part of Jurgen Klopp’s devastating front three with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino.
When Liverpool won their first English league title for 30 years in the pandemic-disrupted 2019-2020 season, Mane scored 18 goals.
But in the summer of 2022, Mane decided he wanted a new challenge – unconfirmed rumours said he had tired of sharing the limelight with Egypt’s Salah at Anfield.
Bayern made a big play for Mane, promising to make him the focal point of an attack which had just lost the services of Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona.
After a strong start to the season at Bayern, it soon become clear that Mane was not clicking in Bavaria.
In a Bundesliga game against Werder Bremen in November, Mane suffered an injury to his fibula and his season was put on hold.
The injury forced him to miss the World Cup in Qatar at the end of last year in a crushing blow to Senegal’s chances.
Bayern CEO Jan-Christian Dreesen reflected on Mane’s difficult spell in Germany.
“It certainly wasn’t an easy year for him, getting injured just before the World Cup and being unable to take part in it with Senegal,” he told Bayern’s website.
Dreesen added, “Because of his long lay-off he also couldn’t have the impact at FC Bayern that we all and he himself had hoped for.
“That’s why we came to the joint decision that he’ll begin a new chapter in his career and make a new start at a different club.”
While Mane returned to the Bayern team in 2023, his problems were underlined when he became involved in a physical altercation with teammate Leroy Sane following a Champions League defeat to Manchester City.
Bayern reportedly fined Mane around €350,000 ($385,000) and gave him a one-match suspension for his part in the incident.
He ended the season with an underwhelming 12 goals in 38 games across all competitions.
Aside from Ronaldo, Al Nassr have also signed this summer Croatia midfielder Marcelo Brozovic, Brazil full-back Alex Telles and Ivory Coast midfielder Seko Fofana.
Karim Benzema, the reigning Ballon d’Or, and French 2018 World Cup winner N’Golo Kante joined Al-Ittihad in June, while Riyad Mahrez left Manchester City for Al-Ahli last week.
England international Jordan Henderson also recently moved from Liverpool to Al-Ettifaq, where he will be coached by Reds legend and former teammate Steven Gerrard.