Sadio Mane is playing a new style of football this season. Is it one that can lead the Liverpool star to even greater heights?
So much of the focus this season has rightly been on Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian has been simply astonishing with his form, reaching new levels we didn’t know were there.
Part of that has been Salah changing his movement up. He now drifts far wider right, allowing underlapping runs from midfielders and defenders.
But it also means so much of Liverpool’s playmaking comes on their right-hand side. The left, in contrast, isn’t getting as much of the ball. Their job is now to get on the end of whatever comes from Salah’s side.
And the result of that is a new Sadio Mane this season.
The new style of Sadio Mane
Mane has two striking stats this season. Firstly, he has seven goals in 13 games – a fantastic strike rate. Secondly, he has precisely zero assists.
And that’s reflective of what we’re seeing this season. Mane is far more like a goal-poacher than anything else, which he’s never really been before.
He’s creating fewer chances, for instance. Mane averages 1.1 per game (he should really have an assist by now) which is down from 1.7 both last season and the one before that.
The 29-year-old also moves with the ball far less. Mane last season dribbled 2.3 times per game. The year before that, he averaged precisely two dribbles. But right now, he’s averaging 1.1.
Instead, Mane is shooting more. He’s at 3.3 per game in the Premier League, up on 2.7 from last season – his previous highest. In fact, 3.3 is the highest average of Mane’s career in any competition – by 0.5.
It’s an interesting change as Mane isn’t passing the ball any less. He’s still getting the same number of touches, too, and is plenty involved.
But he is playing a different style this season and it’s one that works well for both Liverpool and Mane. The results are there, the goals are there, and everyone in that forward line is playing well.
Liverpool may have worked out something great here.