Aaron Curry examines whether or not Sadio Mane can become Liverpool’s main man.
If there’s one thing every Liverpool fan could agree on in recently, it’s that we have lacked pace and directness from the wings. Arguably the last player to do this for us was Raheem Sterling, but we all know the sour taste he left in our mouths after transferring to Manchester City for £49 million. Then came the 2016 summer transfer window – step up, Sadio Mané.
The Senegalese international became the latest addition to the infinite list of players Liverpool have bought from Southampton in recent years. He also claimed the prize of the club’s most expensive signing, with his overall fee being £36 million, including add-ons. This meant there was already a lot of expectation surrounding him.
I for one was excited to see the 24-year-old-winger in action for the Reds, and it wasn’t long before we all got a glimpse of his talents. He made his debut in a Liverpool jersey during pre-season in a 1-0 win over Tranmere Rovers. Although he was unable to provide a pivotal goal or assist, he certainly got the fans talking.
It was clear to see from his debut that Mané had aspects to his game which the squad was crying out for. Raw pace, stunning ball control and an ability to effectively press the ball (which, of course, works immaculately in Klopp’s gengenpressing system.)
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Since then, the fans have taken to him as if he had been at Anfield for many years, myself included. Personally though, I feel that Mané made a huge statement in the penultimate pre-season game, where he scored in the 4-0 win over Catalan giants, Barcelona. I attended the game at Wembley and he constantly left me in awe of his ability.
His ability to beat a defender with ease mesmerised fans as he was already starting to pay back the fee which Liverpool handed out to Southampton. The question then was: can he do it in the Premier League?
Yes, is the answer.
Liverpool played out an enthralling fixture against Arsenal at the Emirates, where we came away with a 4-3 victory. And as you could have guessed, Sadio Mané was one of the main men alongside Philippe Coutinho. If it wasn’t for Coutinho’s world-class free-kick, Sadio would have more than likely stolen the plaudits.
The energy which he offered down the right wing was incredible to watch as he troubled Monreal all game. His goal was outstanding too. Cutting in from the right, beating two players and managing to fire the ball home from around 12 yards out simply put the cherry on the cake. Not to mention the famous celebration on Klopp’s back, he has quickly become a fan’s favourite.
He then unfortunately missed the second game against Burnley due to a minor shoulder injury he picked up in training. The frustrating 2-0 away loss was crying out for some Mané magic which was unavailable.
Jürgen Klopp and his staff deemed him fit enough to start, and start he did against Burton Albion in the newly-named EFL Cup. Mané was able to provide two assists in this game – albeit against a promoted Championship Side – which helped us on our way to the third round.
All in all, Mané has only been at the club for a matter of months yet he is already one of the first names on the team sheet. He has become the main man for us, as every time he gets on the ball you feel as though something might happen.
Picking up a goal and two assists in his first two games in the number 19 jersey, I feel as though he is giving us a taste for what’s to come as the season unfolds. Hopefully Sadio Mané can live up the expectation, which I and many others have for him.