Liverpool v Villarreal Semi Final Leg One - UEFA Champions League
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'You will see': Klopp shares what he told Mane to do to Villarreal's defenders during last night's game

Jurgen Klopp told Sadio Mane to occupy Villarreal’s defenders during Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final win last night.

Klopp was speaking in his post-match press conference via Liverpool FC on YouTube when he was asked about Mane’s new central role. The manager praised his number 10’s ability to do a variety of jobs for the team wherever he plays.

“I love Diogo in the centre, I love Bobby in the centre and Sadio on the left, we should not be that fixed,” said Klopp.

“There are different ways that Sadio plays, sometimes we want him to drop slightly more. Today we wanted him to stay more between the centre halves keep, them away and offer the runs in behind.

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“There are no secrets because if you watch it back you will see it anyway, because he has the skillset for it, that’s the reason why.”

Mane has been a man reborn since Klopp re-purposed him as a central striker. His toe-poked finish against Villarreal was his 20th of another productive season.

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Two of the all-time greats combine yet again

Mane’s goal for Liverpool showcased one of The Reds all-time great partnerships in full flow. Mohamed Salah’s through ball was eye of the needle stuff and the speed at which Mane latched onto it to prod past Geronimo Rulli was typical of him.

It was the seventh time that Salah has supplied his Liverpool teammate for a goal in the Champions League for The Reds.

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According to OptaJean on Twitter, no player has assisted another more times in the competition since the 2017/18 season began.

It’s the kind of statistic which vindicates the praise of the likes of Pep Guardiola, who recently hailed the duo’s on-pitch understanding.

Mane forcing Liverpool’s hand in contract talks

The goal was also Mane’s 14th in the Champions League knockout stages for Liverpool. That puts him comfortably atop Liverpool’s all-time list since the competition began in 1992, three ahead of Salah.

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He has had his detractors at times this season. But he is always on hand for a big goal for The Reds. If he can add to that tally for Liverpool this year, it will only strengthen his claim to win this year’s Ballon d’Or.

It will also make it difficult for Liverpool to stall contract talks with the 30-year-old any longer. On this kind of form, it would look a baffling decision not to renew a deal which is set to expire in just over a year.

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