The Silent Rivalry Between Mane and Salah at Liverpool
Roberto Firmino, the renowned Al-Ahli forward, has shed light on the intriguing and somewhat concealed rivalry between Liverpool’s star players, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah. In his new book, ‘Si Senor: My Liverpool Years,’ Firmino unveiled the inner dynamics of the Liverpool front three, which included himself, Salah, and Mane. Their time at Anfield was marked by remarkable successes, as they clinched both the Champions League and Premier League titles. However, beneath the glory and camaraderie, there simmered a silent tension.
Firmino candidly described this rivalry as the “worst-kept secret in Liverpool,” suggesting that it was evident to those closely following the team. While these three players constituted one of the most formidable attacking trios in world football, they didn’t always see eye to eye.
One incident, in particular, highlighted the underlying tension. In 2019, during a match, Mane was visibly upset when Salah opted to go for goal instead of passing to him for a seemingly simple tap-in. This moment on the field seemed to capture the essence of the unspoken competition between them.
Firmino, who played a pivotal role as the link between Salah and Mane in Liverpool’s attacking play, offered insights into their relationship and his own role in maintaining harmony within the team. He wrote, “I knew those guys very well, maybe better than anyone. It was me out there on the field, right in the middle of them. I saw first-hand the looks, the grimaces, the body language, the dissatisfaction when one was mad at the other. I could feel it. I was the link between them in our attacking play and the firefighter in those moments.”
The Brazilian forward further disclosed that Salah and Mane were not the best of friends off the pitch, each largely keeping to themselves. Their interactions were infrequent, and Firmino pondered whether this had anything to do with the Egypt-Senegal rivalry in African competitions. He candidly admitted, “It was rare to see the two of them talking, and I’m not sure if that had to do with the Egypt-Senegal rivalry in African competitions. I truly don’t know.”
The revelation of this silent rivalry adds a layer of complexity to the perception of Liverpool’s success during that period. It underscores the notion that even in a team of remarkable talents, personal ambitions and competition for the limelight can coexist alongside collective achievements. Despite their differences, Salah, Mane, and Firmino’s collaboration on the field brought Liverpool unprecedented success and forged an unforgettable era in the club’s history.
Firmino’s openness about the dynamics between these star players sheds light on the intricacies of high-stakes professional football. It underscores the challenges that come with managing and maintaining the chemistry of a successful team, where individual ambitions may occasionally clash with collective goals.
As fans reflect on that era of Liverpool’s dominance, Firmino’s revelations serve as a reminder that the journey to glory is often marked by not just triumphs, but also unspoken rivalries and moments of tension behind the scenes. Nevertheless, it’s the ability to channel such energies towards a common objective that defines great teams and athletes.
“But they also never stopped talking, never severed ties. They always acted with the utmost professionalism. I never took sides. That’s why they love me: I always passed the ball to both; my preference was for the team’s victory.
“Everyone, including the other players, knew that’s how it worked. It was the worst-kept secret in Liverpool – naturally, no one ever asked what I thought or how I felt. That’s just my nature; the team comes first. The boss knew it.”
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