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Julian Nagelsmann sets Sadio Mané return timetable for Bayern Munich

The superstar winger is in a race against time.

FC Bayern München v 1. FSV Mainz 05 - Bundesliga Photo by S. Mellar/FC Bayern via Getty Images

Julian Nagelsmann provided an update on Sadio Mané’s fitness levels ahead of last weekend’s Bundesliga match against VfL Wolfsburg (a 4-2 win for Bayern Munich). The Senegalese winger has been a key figure in Nagelsmann’s starting XI this season when available, but is fighting his way back from an injury sustained prior to the World Cup.

“I’m expecting him back mid or towards the end of February, probably not for the first leg against Paris.” Nagelsmann explained (via @iMiaSanMia). “We’re trying to integrate him with the team around the 21st of February. We’re very happy with how things went so far.”

So that’s good and bad news. Bayern’s first leg vs PSG will be on February 14, away in Paris. There are only two games ahead of the second one: February 26 vs Union Berlin and March 4 at VfB Stuttgart. Paris come to town on March 8.

That’s not a lot of time for the winger to come back into a side that has changed much since his departure. The winter transfer window additions of Daley Blind (Ajax) and João Cancelo (Manchester City) have given Nagelsmann new options, including a return to the back three. Kingsley Coman has stepped into Mané’s role on the left wing, but in the back three configuration also served as wing-back — something the Frenchman has experience doing dating back to last season, when Alphonso Davies was hurt.

Mané’s race to return to fitness has Champions League echoes of last year, too — when it was Davies fighting his way back from a lengthy spell on the sidelines due to COVID-19-induced myocarditis. Davies didn’t have a lot of time to re-integrate either before Bayern’s exit to Villareal.

Whether these are omens for good or ill, and whether Bayern can write a much different story for themselves this time, remains to be seen.

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