Sadio Mane is the perfect signing for Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp
When Sadio Mane signed for Liverpool from Southampton last week, Jurgen Klopp finally got his hands on a player that had bypassed him years before.
At £30 million, the German boss made the Senegal international Liverpool's third most expensive signing ever, ending a four-year courtship between Klopp and Mane.
Klopp admitted to having been aware of Mane's talents "since his impressive performances in the Olympics in 2012," pointing to why Liverpool were willing to splash such a sum to pry him away from Southampton.
Prior to his successful two-year stint with the Saints, Mane almost joined Borussia Dortmund -- then managed by Klopp -- from Red Bull Salzburg, only for the two parties to fail to agree on a fee before Mane made a long-desired move to England.
But now, finally, Klopp has his man -- a talent who he feels can bring further goals from deep, assists, pace, versatility and, most importantly, workrate to his Liverpool side.
"He's the type of player who fits perfectly in the philosophy of Jurgen Klopp," former Red Bull Salzburg assistant manager Oliver Glasner told ESPN FC. "He's very quick. He has a fantastic mentality to work against the ball [and] play very high pressing.
"We always used GPS in training and afterwards the data [said] he was one of the players who ran the most in every training [session]."
Klopp wants his Liverpool side to defend on the front foot, squeezing the opposition into submission of possession, beginning with the players furthest upfield.
Glasner -- who now manages LASK Linz in the Austrian second tier -- feels Mane is readymade for life at Anfield in the current system.
"He works a lot for the team in defence, which is very important for Liverpool," he added. "He's used to doing this from Red Bull Salzburg. He wants to do this because he knows that he will profit, so then he can score goals and make a lot of assists."
Eyebrows have been raised regarding the hefty fee paid for the 24-year-old who scored 15 goals -- four of which went in against Liverpool -- in 43 appearances for Southampton in all competitions last season. However, that campaign did include a 16-game stretch where he failed to find the back of the net, highlighting the inconsistency within Mane's game.
But Glasner insisted he will continue on an upward trajectory at the place where he truly wants to be -- so much so that when he arrived in Austria, he insisted he wanted to learn English instead of German because of his desire to move to the Premier League in the future.
Arriving in Salzburg in his early 20s after a year in France with Metz, and having come through the ranks at Academie Generation Foot -- the Senegalese football academy -- Mane initially struggled to adjust to his new environment. According to Glasner, he often turned up late (something he struggled with at Southampton too) and suffered a car accident as a result of not being used to driving.
But things quickly clicked into gear through hard work, and his contribution on the pitch soon followed, which brought prosperity in the two years he spent in the Austrian Bundesliga.
"When he came to Salzburg he said: 'My goal is not to stay in Austria, I want to play in the Premier League.' That says a lot about his attitude," Glasner said. "After training he tried to improve his shooting and he stayed on the pitch for maybe 20 or 30 minutes and tried dribbling inside from the left wing and shooting. This was his mentality. He wanted to improve.
"I read in Austria about half a year ago a story about him where he said: 'I want to become African footballer of the year.' That's his goal and I think he can reach it.
"Against the best teams he shows his best performances but against the weak teams he will do things [at] maybe 80 or 90 percent. The better the opponent is, the better he played. So when he played against Ajax Amsterdam, he played better than when we played in the league against a weak team."
"But I think if he can play always on his highest level then it will be a big step for him. Playing with Liverpool and Klopp is the best for him."
In February, Klopp admitted to having "not too many wingers." With Mane, he now has a midfielder who can operate effectively on either flank, as well as a second striker.
Speaking about his time at Red Bull Salzburg, Glasner continued: "We played 4-4-2 and his position was always left wing because then he can go inside and shoot with his right foot, which is better than his left. He is very good in one-on-one situations."
With Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Adam Lallana and now Mane, Liverpool have bolstered their ranks and now have a solid set of attacking midfielders who have the ability to interchange between all positions in the final third.
More importantly, the foursome all have the attributes and creative spark to change the outcome of a match. For that alone, the price paid for Mane in this uncertain market should be worth it.
Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.