Thursday 24 March 2022, 15:00

Mane versus Salah

  • Sadio Mane and Mo Salah have electrified together for Liverpool

  • Now they are clashing as Egypt and Senegal fight for a Qatar 2022 place

  • We deliver stats, trivia and quotes on the African mega-stars

They were born in little villages, on the same continent, two months apart. They joined the same club, for almost the same fee, 12 months apart. They have gone on to inspire Liverpool to heights unimaginable when they arrived at Anfield. As Sadio Mane and Mo Salah have transformed themselves from superhero sidekicks into temporary rivals, with Egypt trading blows with Senegal for a place at the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, we juxtapose the 29-year-olds with trivia, stats, quotes and more.

Childhood idols

Mane: El Hadji Diouf, Ronaldinho. Salah: Ronaldo, Francesco Totti, Zinedine Zidane. “I used to love El-Hadji Diouf and Ronaldinho, but especially Ronaldinho. He was… wow. The goals, the skills, the moves you had never seen before. I used to pretend I was him when I was young, but I couldn’t do the things he could. I still love him. He will be my hero forever.” Mane

“I have always loved magicians. Those unique players who can do things others can’t. When I first got into football it was Zidane, the Brazilian Ronaldo and Totti. I used to love watching them and pretending I was them when I was out on the street with my friends.” Salah

Highest-scoring foreigners in Premier League

Sergio Aguero1842750.67
Thierry Henry1752580.68
Robin van Persie1442800.51
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink1272880.44
Robbie Keane1263490.36
Nicolas Anelka1253640.34
Dwight Yorke1233750.33
Romelu Lukaku1182710.44
Mo Salah1171850.63
Ryan Giggs1096320.17
Sadio Mane1072550.42
Didier Drogba1042540.41

Long roads to superstardom

Unlike so many of the finest footballers on the planet today, Mane and Salah both had waits to become recognised as elite performers. As a 20-year-old, the Senegalese was a bit-part performer as Metz were relegated into the French third tier. After spells at Red Bull Salzburg and Southampton, there was widespread disbelief when Liverpool paid £34 million to make him the most expensive African footballer of all time in 2016.

He’s unbelievable. He does it all. A fantastic creator, a fantastic scorer. So fast, so good at dribbling. And you see how good he is in the air. I'm not sure somebody has jumped that high since Air Jordan.

Jurgen Klopp on Sadio Mane

The Egyptian, for his part, made only six Premier League starts in two seasons at Chelsea, during which he had loan spells at Fiorentina and Roma, before leaving Stamford Bridge permanently in 2016. At the end of that calendar year, Salah and Mane came 65th and 69th respectively in The 100 best footballers in the World by The Guardian.

Chelsea’s Mo Salah and Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling in action in 2014


2 Mane wins 1 draw (Senegal won on penalties) 0 Salah wins Mane set up the first for Mame Biram Diouf and scored the second as Senegal beat Egypt 2-0 in CAF Africa Cup of Nations qualifying in September 2014. Two months later, the Southampton winger was named man of the match as the Lions of Teranga won 1-0 in Cairo to qualify for the African finals at the Pharaohs’ expense. The Liverpool colleagues’ most recent and consequential clash was in the recent AFCON final. Egypt went into it with a record seven titles to their name, while Senegal had never lifted the trophy. Mane nevertheless emerged as the hero of a Senegalese triumph, withstanding the pressure created by an early penalty miss to score the winning spot-kick in the shootout. He was then named the competition’s best player.

I told him that he remains a very great player and it’s a pleasure to play for the same club. I have so much respect for him and he gave everything for his country. Unfortunately, he didn’t win, but that doesn’t mean it’s over for him.
Mane on what he told Salah after the recent AFCON final

It's mad. He's the best player in the world right now, it goes without saying. He's scoring, he's creating, doing everything – game in, game out. He's had an incredible season and that's on his mind – he wants to break every record in the book.
Trent Alexander-Arnold on Salah

Kings of Africa

Salah was named CAF African Footballer of the Year for 2017, becoming the first Egyptian since Mahmoud El Khatib 34 years earlier to win the award. The Nagrig native defended his title the following year. Mane became, in 2019, the first player since Didier Drogba to win his maiden African Footballer of the Year trophy having previously finished on the podium thrice. CAF cancelled the awarding of the prize for 2020 and 2021 due to COVID. Salah has twice finished on The Best FIFA Men’s Player podium, finishing third in 2018 and 2021. Mane has twice narrowly missed a top-three place, coming fifth in 2019 and one better the following year.


176 Mane scored the fastest hat-trick in Premier League history in merely 176 seconds for Southampton against Aston Villa in 2015. It smashed the record of 277 seconds Liverpool’s Robbie Fowler had set against Arsenal in 1994.

48.9 Salah boasts almost 49 million followers on Instagram – the 10th most for any active footballer on Instagram behind James Rodriguez (49.0), Sergio Ramos (49.6), Paul Pogba (52.6), Marcelo (52.7), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (52.8), Kylian Mbappe (68.5), Neymar (171), Lionel Messi (313) and Cristiano Ronaldo (416).

32 Salah holds the record for the most goals in a 38-game Premier League season: 32 in 36 appearances in 2017/18. 18 Mane has scored 18 headers since joining Liverpool – an incredible return for someone who is 5ft 9ins.

He loves his muscles. He loves all his body. His hairstyle too. He’s very quiet, likes his own company. Before Naby [Keita] came his best friend is his mobile phone!

Mo Salah on Mane in 2019

9 Mane netted in his ninth consecutive Premier League appearance against Crystal Palace in September 2021, setting a new record. Robin van Persie had netted in eight successive Premier League outings against Stoke City.

Did you know?

  • Salah was a left-back as a kid. When his team won a crucial cup game 4-0, however, rather than celebrate it he broke down in tears because he hadn’t scored. It prompted his coach to stick young Mo in attack, and the rest is history.

  • Mane, who is famously down-to-earth, often cleans the toilets in his local mosque.

  • Mane and Salah both briefly reigned as the costliest African footballer in history – a distinction also held by the likes of Tony Yeboah, George Weah, Finidi George, Jay-Jay Okocha and Didier Drogba.

  • A mural of Salah decorated a building in Times Square, New York City in 2018. The delighted attacker reacted by posting a picture of himself posing beneath it, accompanied by lyrics from the track Empire State of Mind by Jay-Z feat. Alicia Keys.

Foreigners with best goal-contribution ratios in Premier League

Thierry Henry175742492580.97
Mo Salah117441611850.87
Sergio Aguero184472312750.84
Luis Suarez9269231100.84
Eric Cantona12670561560.81
Jurgen Klinsmann291544560.79
Bruno Fernandes352560780.77
Diego Costa521668890.76
Ruud van Nistelrooy95141091500.73
Robin van Persie144531972800.70
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang6816841280.66
Kevin De Bruyne51811322020.65
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink127581852880.64
Didier Drogba104551592540.63
Alexis Sanchez6331941540.61

Egypt-Senegal comparison

  • Senegal are top in Africa and 21st overall on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking. Egypt are sixth on the continent and 46th overall.

  • The nations have met 13 times, with those games producing just 14 goals cumulatively. Egypt have won six of them to Senegal’s five, with two ending all square.

  • Egypt became the first African country to play in the World Cup in 1934. It was another 36 years before the continent was next represented in the competition, through Morocco in Mexico.

  • The Pharaohs, despite being the record seven-time African champions, have only been to three World Cups. Senegal have participated in two.

Further reading