Sadio Mané put in a superb performance against Arsenal at the weekend and helped the Reds secure a double over the Gunners in the league this season. He scored and assisted in the match that finished 3-1, and showed once again his value and importance to this Liverpool side.
The player signed for Liverpool in the summer for a reported £34 million from Southampton. The Senegalese international looks every bit worth that and more, although he did initially have his doubters when signing for the Merseyside outfit.
Mané, despite previously playing Premier League football with Southampton, was perhaps perceived as a predictable winger before arriving at Anfield, using his pace to beat his man and deliver a cross.
The ex-Southampton man has proven he has much more in his locker, however. He has an ability to get into dangerous positions, whether that be utilising his blistering pace to get in behind opposition defences or receiving the ball in tighter areas infield, before picking out a pass or taking a shot.
It is when he gets the ball when Mane stands out most. When presented with a goal scoring opportunity, he often finishes it. If the shot is not on, he is also able to deliver a dangerous cross or pass to a teammate. It is this decision-making, whether to shoot or pass, run behind or drop short, that makes Mane so important to this Liverpool side.
In 24 Premier League appearances, he has 12 goals and five assists – extremely impressive statistics for a winger. He has inevitably been helped by Jurgen Klopp’s free-flowing attacking system. Given freedom in attack, he can drift in and out of the defensive lines and pick the ball up either centrally or out wide.
His importance to this Liverpool side was most emphasised when he went on international duty with Senegal during the African Cup of Nations. Absent for seven league games for, the Reds registered just one win in this period, against Plymouth in the FA Cup.
Klopp’s side drew two games and lost four, in what is currently the worst period of form for Liverpool this season. They severely missed Mane’s pace and trickery, as well as his ability to create and convert chances.
Jurgen Klopp will hope Mané can continue to rack up the assists and goals in his first season for the club. As the German boss looks to the future with his team, he will hope that the Senegalese International can continue to improve and, in the near future, steer them towards glory.
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