Bayern Munich had no plan to sign Liverpool superstar Sadio Mane this summer until a chance garden chat opened the door to a move.
That is according to Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic, who admits conversations over a contract extension for Serge Gnabry at his home revealed Mane would be open to a move. The Senegal international was unveiled on Wednesday after the Reds accepted an offer worth up to £35million.
Mane enjoyed six successful seasons at Anfield, but indicated he would like a new challenge following Liverpool's Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid last month. The versatile forward was due to enter the final year of his contract, paving the way for a cut-price exit.
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Ahead of Bayern's announcement of their summer signing, however, Salihamidzic has confirmed Mane was not originally on the club's summer shortlist. The soon-to-be former Liverpool star shares the same agent at Gnabry, and it was during a conversation about the German international's future that Mane's name was first mentioned.
Salihamidzic told Bild: "It was in my garden. Marco Neppe and I sat together with Björn Bezemer and Daniel Delonga, their ROOF agency represents Serge Gnabry. It's no secret we were in talks because we want to extend with Serge.
"That was when the name of Sadio Mané was mentioned for the first time, as he's also represented by Björn. During the talks I thought to myself: 'Something is possible!' – As Björn was leaving, I asked him how big the chances really are.
"When I heard that Mané rejected all Liverpool's attempts to extend his contract, I was immediately interested. Two days later, Julian Nagelsmann, Marco and I were on a plane to Liverpool.
"For me it was immediately clear, if there was really a chance to sign Sadio Mané, I was ready to work on it day and night. Julian was fully behind it from the start."
Salihamidzic went on to detail how the Liverpool star welcomed the Bayern entourage into his home, and the forward was quickly convinced he would be a 'perfect player' for the Bundesliga champions. Technical director Neppe put together a presentation outlining the German giants' tactics as well as their identity.
The Bayern sporting director was also quick to dismiss the suggestion that Mane has been signed as a replacement for any of the club's star forwards. Robert Lewandowski has publicly declared his intention to leave this summer, while Gnabry is yet to sign a new deal with just one year remaining on his contract.
Salihamidzic added: "During their six years there, Sadio and his agent have always been fair to the club. Therefore the people in charge at Liverpool were willing to complete a deal. Sadio's clear willingness to join FC Bayern was of course helpful.
"Negotiations with my colleague Julian Ward were not easy but were always respectful. I'm also thankful to Oliver Kahn with whom we were in perfect harmony. It was real teamwork."
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