Exclusive: Liverpool midfield star Sadio Mane talks one-on-one to our man Paul Joyce

Liverpool were already tracking Mane by then – Klopp was, too, at Borussia Dortmund – having been alerted to his talents at the Olympics in London in 2012 when he played for Senegal.

But it was that menacing display, plus eye-catching performances in the Europa League against Ajax, that convinced them he could play at a higher level and that he should remain on their radar.

Having discussed at the likes of Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus and Ahmed Musa (all now in the Premier League) during last season, the decision to push for Mane was partly driven by his experience, flexibility of position while, at the age of 24, there remains potential for growth.

It is a deal recognised as astute beyond Anfield’s parameters. Still, Thierry Henry’s glowing assessment this week that Mane, not Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic or other more high-profile figures in the transfer merry-go-round, can emerge as the Player of the Season was unexpected.

Mane comes over all sheepish again.

“I am pleased to hear that,” said the attacker. “Thierry Henry is one of the monuments in the game and when he says something like that it gives me extra motivation.

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