With rumours about his impending move to Bayern Munich reaching a fever pitch, Liverpool forward Sadio Mane on Saturday played down his comments about leaving the Merseyside club, reiterating his respect for both the club and its fans.

Mane had earlier said that he would leave Liverpool if the Senegalese people wanted him to, comments that were widely shared on social media and reported upon by the media.

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“I respect the fans and team but 60 to 70 per cent of Senegalese want me to leave Liverpool? I’ll do what they want,” the 30-year-old Senegalese forward had told reporters ahead of his side’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier match against Benin.

However, after his comments caused a stir, Mane played them down, saying that he was joking.

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“I spoke yesterday while joking with a bit of humour and it was everywhere,” the 30-year-old forward said on Saturday.

“I think we’ll stop there. Liverpool is a club I respect a lot. The fans adopted me since day one. Regarding the future, we’ll see,” Mane added.

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Despite downplaying his own comments about his reported departure this summer, Mane is most likely to leave Liverpool as the club looks to cash in on the top forward prior to the expiry of his contract next summer.

With all signs pointing towards an exit for Robert Lewandowski, who is reportedly very close to signing a deal with Xavi’s Barcelona, Bayern have an urgent need to bolster their squad through the addition of attacking options. Mane, while not a like-for-like replacement for a central striker such as Lewandowski, could be a perfect addition to the team, bringing versatility, speed, and power to the German champions.