When Bayern Munich unveiled Sadio Mane at the Allianz Arena on May 17, an unusual sound echoed around the stadium.
Hundreds of Senegalese fans had turned up to welcome their compatriot, singing songs in Wolof, one of the country’s major languages, to welcome their 2022 AFCON-winning hero.
“It was amazing. I didn’t expect that,” Mane told the Bundesliga.com. “When I heard them singing this famous Senegalese song in the stadium, I got emotional.”
The excitement about his signing has not just been among his Senegalese compatriots; it has sparked global interest. A Bundesliga spokesperson told DW that the league’s social media channels saw an almost 400% increase in Facebook followers and an almost 50% increase in new YouTube subscribers after Bayern’s Mane announcement.
The league’s “Sadio Mane Challenge” on TikTok already has more than 30 million views and the target-shooting clip is the second-best performing video on the channel. And when Mane won the CAF African Player of the Year award in July, the Bundesliga.com‘s livestream saw a more than 180 per cent increase in viewers.
And it’s not just online and on the pitch that Bayern Munich want to profit from Mane; replica jerseys with the 30-year-old’s name have been flying off the shelves.
“Currently, it is Sadio Mané who has had the greatest demand (from fans). You could see it in the first game (pre-season friendly against DC United), when the players were introduced and the reaction was the loudest for him,” said Bayern executive board member Andreas Jung.
It was an unprecedented move that brought one of African football’s biggest names to the Bundesliga. After six successful years at Liverpool, the Senegalese striker has joined Bayern Munich, where he will be expected to at least partly fill the void left by Robert Lewandowski. All eyes will be on him when Bayern get the new season up and running away at Eintracht Frankfurt on Friday night.
A star name in his native Cameroon after helping the Indomitable Lions secure a place at the 2022 World Cup, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting enjoys a rather less prominent status at Bayern Munich. Following the departure of Robert Lewandowski, however, Choupo-Moting is arguably the only senior out-and-out striker at the club, and potentially a useful alternative for coach Julian Nagelsmann.
One of the best left-backs in the Bundesliga, Borussia Mönchengladbach’s Ramy Bensebaini also has a keen eye for goal. The Algerian famously announced himself with a brace against Bayern Munich in his debut season, and has found the net 19 times in total in all competitions. He struggled with a hamstring injury last season, however, as the Foals endured a campaign to forget.
Ghanaian star Daniel-Kofi Kyereh arrives in the Bundesliga after an impressive couple of seasons with St. Pauli in Bundesliga 2, where he scored 22 goals in 67 games for the Hamburg side, and assisted 21 more. With the World Cup coming up in November, Ghanaian fans will be hoping he can replicate that form in the Bundesliga, and with the Black Stars in Qatar.
Sebastien Haller’s Borussia Dortmund career has got off to the worst start imaginable, and it’s nothing to do with football. The Ivory Coast international has been diagnosed with a malignant testicular tumor and is set to undergo chemotherapy. Until we receive better news, questions as to whether the 28-year-old can be an adequate replacement for Erling Haaland or not are very much secondary.
A sound reader of the game with good technique, Mali’s Amadou Haidara was one of RB Leipzig’s unsung heroes last season as they secured their first ever major trophy, the German Cup. Despite interest from Manchester United last year, the 24-year-old instead signed a contract extension to keep him in Leipzig until 2025, as the Red Bull side attempt to challenge Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga.
One of the fastest players in the Bundesliga, Togolese forward Ihlas Bebou scored seven goals for Hoffenheim last season – but his preparations for the 2022/23 season have been hampered by knee problems. New Hoffenheim coach Andre Breitenreiter, who worked with Bebou at Hannover previously, will be hoping his striker stays fit.
Energetic and hardworking, Ellyes Skhiri is regularly among the top ranked Bundesliga players when it comes to kilometers covered on the pitch. And in Cologne boss Steffen Baumgart, he has a coach who appreciates that style of play. He was the midfield engine last season as Cologne qualified for the UEFA Conference League – but can Skhiri and the Billy Goats go a step further this year?
With a reputation for tricky dribbling, Chidera “Chiddi” Ejuke became a fan-favorite with Russian Premier League CSKA Moscow. This season, he has joined Hertha Berlin on loan, where he’ll be playing under a familiar face from the Russian capital, head coach Sandro Schwarz, who was recently in charge of Dynamo Moscow. Hertha will be hoping Ejuke can help them avoid another relegation battle.
After two consecutive seasons out on loan at St. Pauli and VfB Stuttgart, this could be the season where Egyptian forward Omar Marmoush finally shines in the Bundesliga with VfL Wolfsburg. The 23-year-old is already a key player for the Pharaohs at international level, now is the time to stake a claim for a place in Niko Kovac’s Wolfsburg team.
The positive effects of Mane’s transferaren’t limited to Bayern, the Bundesliga and Germany either; as the new season gets underway, African broadcasters are already looking at ensuring Mane’s transfer helps them make the Bundesliga a better product for their viewers.
On a continent where the English Premier League dominates greater interest and media attention, Mane is seen as the new face of something exciting.
“I think [Mane’s signing] has had a positive impact and I’m certainly hoping it will help grow the Bundesliga,” Gary Rathbone, GM Sport of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), told DW. “I’ve suggested we kick off our marketing campaign for the new Bundesliga season with the slogan ‘The new home of Sadio Mane.'”
The SABC has free-to-air rights for the Bundesliga in South Africa and Rathbone hopes that they can have more outdoor events now that the COVID-19 restrictions are behind them.
Pan-African broadcaster StarTimes also expects to see an increase in the number of viewers for the Bundesliga on the continent.
“Sadio Mane is one of the leading African football stars. More so as he is the reigning African football of the year, Sadio’s presence in the Bundesliga will of course draw a lot of fans in Africa, especially from Senegal his home country,” said Tunde Aina, Chief Operating Officer of StarTimes.
Sadio Mane won his second African Player of the Year award in July
Some fans are already excited. Adefolahan Guerreiro is a Borussia Dortmund fan from Lagos, Nigeria, but even he was pleasantly surprised by Mane’s move to rivals Bayern.
“It’s quite exciting for me because I used to be the only one around who followed the Bundesliga,” he told DW. “But Mane’s signing has made more people interested in watching the Bundesliga. Even as a Dortmund fan, I think it’s good that I can watch games with more people around me.”
He’s only been in Munich for a couple of months but Mane is already ticking all the boxes off the field. Now, it’s time for him to deliver on it, starting away at Eintracht Frankfurt on Friday night.
Edited by Matt Ford.