Liverpool: Jurgen Klopp wanted to 'punch himself' after missing out on Sadio Mane at Dortmund

The German passed up on a chance to sign Mane while managing in the Bundesliga and vowed not to make the same mistake twice

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The Independent Football

Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has revealed he wanted to “punch himself” after he missed out on signing Sadio Mane earlier in his career and vowed never to let the opportunity slip through his fingers again.

Klopp was in charge of Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga while Senegal forward Mane was at that time playing for Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg.

The pair met in person to discuss a potential move but Klopp ultimately decided not to pursue a deal and Mane subsequently joined Southampton in 2014.​

Mane returns to St Mary’s on Saturday to face his former club for the first time since he made a £34m switch to Liverpool in the summer.

Eyebrows were initially raised by Liverpool supporters at both the fee for Mane and that Klopp elected to sign him ahead of Germany international Mario Götze.

However, such has been the 24-year-old’s devastating impact that even at that price he now looks to be one of the bargains of the season.

Mane has been a revelation in an attacking triumvirate with Brazilians Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino which has helped propel Liverpool to the top of the Premier League.

Mane scores past Liverpool's Simon Mignolet in last season's meeting at St Mary's (Getty)

“With Sadio it was pretty simple because I made the mistake at Dortmund where I didn’t take him,” Klopp said.

“Around about three months later I would have punched myself, so I knew already the next chance I have I would take it. So it was not difficult to take this decision, it was very easy.

“When the club came and when Michael Edwards said we have an opportunity. No talks were necessary any more it was a case of ‘let’s do it’ immediately.”

As if to rub salt in the wound for Klopp, Mane scored twice for Southampton in their 3-2 win over Liverpool at St Mary’s when the sides met in March.

Klopp spoke to the player as he left the pitch although the German claims it was not to sow the seed of his move to Anfield but because of their prior encounter he was “nice enough to say hello again”.

So why did Klopp have doubts about Mane the first time round?

“We talked. I think everyone knows we met each other and by the end we didn’t feel…” Klopp said, before clapping his hands.

“It’s more a feeling of we spoke and I like the player, but at Dortmund this position I was happy and we could only get one not two or three, so it needed to be the right exact fit in this moment.

“I said a lot of times, I’m not a genius so I couldn’t exactly imagine Austrian League where he was, what does it mean? What does it mean for the football?

“I have made more mistakes in my life like this actually. I think he would have been more expensive if we had taken him to Dortmund and them he had been sold to Liverpool, so all good for Liverpool! My first Liverpool decision, the more I think about it, nice!”

Mane, of course, became the fifth player from Southampton to move to Anfield in recent seasons following Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Nathanial Clyne and Rickie Lambert.

It has earned the Saints over £100m in transfer fees from Liverpool and Klopp admits he has been impressed with the manner in which the club have still managed to replace their star players – akin to the challenge he faced at Dortmund.

“Southampton have made very creative and good decisions,” Klopp added.

“Tell me two other Premier League clubs, or Bundesliga clubs, who will lose this quality and next year you will think again ‘oh yes, they have good again’.

“It’s like take Mane. Negotiations go ‘no not for this price, not for this price’ and they have Nathan Redmond in their pocket.

“It’s good and what you have to do, and what we did at Borussia Dortmund. Other clubs always took players and we had to replace.

“Everyone always thinks there is not another player like this around the world, but there are a lot of good players.

“You only need to know about them in the right moment, and the right situation, because they cannot pay the same price that maybe we can pay or they can use the whole money you can give them.

“My respect for things like this is really big. It’s one of these pieces of football you think ‘good job’.”