SINGAPORE (AP) — Senegal forward Sadio Man? is leaving Bayern Munich to team up with Cristiano Ronaldo at Al-Nassr as the latest world football star opting to play in Saudi Arabia.
Bayern confirmed Mane’s departure on Tuesday. Al-Nassr didn’t immediately give details of the transfer fee and length of contract but tweeted an online video of Mane wearing the club’s No. 10 jersey. The video features a song about Mane and the former Liverpool star tells Al-Nassr fans he “can’t wait to hear from you in the stadium.”
Media reports said the deal was worth around $43 million.
The 31-year-old Man? leaves Bayern Munich after a single season with the German champion in which he struggled for goals, was ruled out of the World Cup with injury, and was briefly suspended by the club.
“We want to thank Sadio Man? for the past season. It certainly wasn’t an easy year for him,” Bayern chief executive Jan-Christian Dreesen said.
“Because of his long (injury) lay-off, he also couldn’t have the impact at FC Bayern that we all and he himself had hoped for. That’s why we came to the joint decision that he’ll begin a new chapter in his career and make a new start at a different club. We wish him all the best and lots of success for the challenges ahead at Al Nassr.”
Man? had two years left on his contract with Bayern after joining last year from Liverpool, where he won the English Premier League and Champions League.
Besides Ronaldo, his new Al-Nassr teammates include former Manchester United defender Alex Telles, midfielder Marcelo Brozovi?, who captained runner-up Inter Milan in this year’s Champions League final, and the Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina.
The Senegal forward scored 12 times in 38 games for Bayern, but only one of those goals came after a leg injury in November which ruled him out of the World Cup. Man? was also suspended for one game by Bayern for “misconduct” in April after German media reported he had struck teammate Leroy San? in the locker room after a Champions League loss to Manchester City.
Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel said Tuesday he shared a hug with Man? and is saddened the forward couldn’t tap his full potential in Germany.
“It was kind of sad. We had a long hug but we had both a smile on our faces and we assured ourselves to keep the good relationship. It’s not personal from his side. I can totally understand that he feels hurt. I feel also not happy if things like this happen,” Tuchel said in Singapore during Bayern’s pre-season tour.
“We didn’t bring it to the full potential, which is my job also and my responsibility. So it’s always kind of a sad moment but in this particular situation it was the best solution to untie the knot.”
German broadcaster Sky Sport reported Monday that Man? had said it was painful to leave Bayern and that he believed he was still useful to the team.
Tuchel said he was surprised by the “gold rush” unleashed by Saudi Arabia’s clubs over the last year and compared it to similarly lavish spending in the Chinese league in the 2010s, something which has since eased up.
“We’re experiencing the next league who tries to become more popular, more famous, who tries to build a brand, and they convince a lot of players, a lot of quality players and even coaches,” Tuchel said. “So a completely new situation and a bit too early for me to have a clear opinion. I’m an observer, a surprised observer.”