"Just give the ball to Sadio": Former Metz team-mate recalls first impressions of a teenage Sadio Mané
Mané played half a season for Metz in 2012, scoring twice in 22 appearances for the Ligue 2 side but could not prevent his team from being relegated to the French third tier.
The Liverpool forward earned a move to Red Bull Salzburg in the summer of 2012 but Bussman reveals that Mané had a strong impact on the French team when he first arrived.
In the March 2020 issue of FourFourTwo, out Friday February 7 and available to pre-order now, Bussman says: “Olivier Perrin had told us that a phenomenon was coming to Metz, but we had no idea he was that good.
“He was rather quiet, but I remember how happy Sadio always looked – it was like he never felt the pressure.
“It was his first French winter. He was so, so cold but we had a good laugh about it.”
Bussman, who still plays in France for Guingamp, also recognises the same qualities in Mané today, with the Liverpool winger now a Champions League winner with the Reds having scored 74 goals in 154 appearances since joining Anfield from Southampton in 2016.
He added: “He plays the same now as when he arrived in France. Physically he is more developed, of course, and he can play 90 minutes at full intensity.
“The biggest difference, though, is how explosive he is on the pitch, especially in one-on-one situations.
“I remember one reserve match against Jura Sud in November 2011 – it was so cold and foggy that you couldn’t see 20 metres in front of you. The game was almost cancelled.
“Mané was sat on the bench and he came on. We couldn’t see the opponents properly; we just said, ‘Give the ball to Sadio.’ We wanted him to dribble past opponents and score.
“He didn’t in the end, but he caused mayhem. We ended up winning 2-1.”
Read the full profile of Sadio Mané in the March 2020 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, out in shops and available digitally from Friday February 7 – or available to pre-order now. Our new magazine features the full story of Jose Mourinho's quest for a third Champions League title, plus more exclusive interviews with Andres Iniesta, Benjamin Mendy, Mateo Kovacic, Rio Ferdinand, Peter Reid, Djibril Cisse and many more. We also find out the greatest ever European Cup losers, visit the Indian Ocean club competing in the Coupe de France, and debunk football's greatest myths.