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Julian Nagelsmann: Sadio Mané can play four or five positions without any problems

The Bavarians’ manager seems to be a big fan of his new signing’s versatility.

FC Bayern Muenchen Unveils New Signing Sadio Mane
“Did we just become best friends?” “Yup!”
Photo by Stefan Matzke - sampics/Corbis via Getty Images

Bayern Munich’s manager Julian Nagelsmann has had no shortage of praise for his team’s new marquee signing — former Liverpool attacker Sadio Mané. The FC Bayern media team sat down for a brief conversation with the coach about his new star, and so far he’s only had good things to say.

Nagelsmann was quick to mention the good impression that Mané made on him when they first met. No surprises there: the Senegalese player has long had an impression as a personable, down-to-earth guy, known for being humble and putting others ahead of himself. This has seemingly been Mané’s attitude both on and off the pitch, impressing the manager with his willingness to play in a variety of attacking positions. Nagelsmann specifically mentioned Mané’s willingness to help out the team wherever he can as a factor in the club pushing to get his transfer wrapped up.

Tactically speaking, with an ability to play in a variety of roles and a number of positions at Bayern Munich still perhaps in flux, it sounds like Mané’s go-to role has not been entirely nailed down yet. In an interview with Sport Bild (as captured by @iMiaSanMia), sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic noted that Mané isn’t a traditional striker “like Lewandowski or Luca Toni,” but that he’s flexible and has strengths that can be shown both centrally or out wide. Similarly, Julian Nagelsmann remarked that the 30-year-old attacker can play in four or five positions and is flexible enough to switch things around mid-match, as well.

While he has spent the majority of his career playing the wide positions (301 matches on the left wing and 74 matches on the right wing, per Transfermarkt), Mané was deployed primarily in a more central role for Liverpool in the latter half of last season and took great advantage of those opportunities, bagging 12 goals and 2 assists in 18 appearances at CF - good for 0.89 goals + assists per 90 minutes.

With leading man Robert Lewandowski’s future up in the air and the club having trouble getting an extension agreed on with Serge Gnabry, it may be that Mané will find a variety of opportunities at Bayern Munich, as well. In whatever case, should they stay or should they go, FC Bayern should find themselves with a fair bit of flexibility in the attacking positions: Kingsley Coman can play on either wing, Serge Gnabry can play in just about every attacking role, Leroy Sané can play on either wing and has had success playing centrally as well, Thomas Müller is Thomas Müller and does not acknowledge your simple concepts of “positions,” and young attackers like Jamal Musiala, Malik Tillman, and Paul Wanner are able to play in multiple attacking positions, too. And that’s before the potential addition of other incoming transfers linked with a move to Munich, like Stuttgart’s two meter-tall Sasa Kalajdžić.

All things considered, Julian Nagelsmann should find himself with no shortage of options for the attack next season, and Mané’s position on the pitch is just one of many questions he’ll be looking to clarify over the remainder of the summer. But perhaps Mané said it best himself: “I’m just happy when the coach doesn’t put me in goal or defense!”

How would you like to see Nagelsmann’s Bayern Munich line up in attack next season?

Interested in further discussion of the impact of the Sadio Mane transfer? Look no further than our podcast! In this special edition reaction show, we talked about everything from the impact of his signing on the club’s finances, to where he could play on the pitch. Listen to it below or at this link.

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