Over the last couple of days, Liverpool have been linked with a surprise £25 million move for Southampton forward, Sadio Mane. The reds have turned their attention to the Senegalese international after Mario Götze confirmed his intention to stay and fight for his place at Bundesliga champions, Bayern Munich.
Reliable news sources such as the Liverpool Echo, The Guardian and Paul Joyce from The Express all added speculation to the proposed move in what would see Liverpool chasing after a fifth Southampton player in two years. Although it may have come slightly out of left field, there are certainly some advantages to signing Mane, while he does come with potential pitfalls too.
The Southampton wide man clearly has an eye for goal and has proved that in his two years at St Mary’s since moving from Red Bull Salzburg in 2014 for £10 million. Last term, he scored 15 goals in all competitions – five more than he managed in his maiden season. Considering the 24-year-old has only made 64 appearances for Southampton, a 25 goal return is impressive for an attacking midfielder.
Indeed, the stats from the last campaign back him as the fourth top goal-scoring midfielder in the Premier League with only Mahrez, Sanchez and Andre Ayew holding better records. He also has a respectable tally of 9 assists in his two year spell. Goals from midfield may be something Jurgen Klopp will have identified as one of Liverpool’s weak links.
With major injury problems suffered by Danny Ings and Daniel Sturridge along with the outgoing Raheem Sterling and Lazar Markovic (loan), Liverpool lacked any real pace in their attacking play last season. The Reds struggled to penetrate teams at times and even with the abundance of inventiveness and trickery that the trio of Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana offered, sometimes it was evident that all Klopp’s men needed was someone running in behind and pulling players out of position.
Sadio Mane does this brilliantly for Southampton and is part of the reason he gets his name on the score-sheet so often, getting in behind opposition defences with his speed making it almost impossible for him to catch. His movement also caused problems by pulling defenders away from their top goal-scorer, Graziano Pelle.
Mane’s style of play is also something Jurgen Klopp expects from his teams with the Senegalese player accustomed to pushing high up the field when the opposition are in possession and winning the ball back in dangerous areas. The fact that he only turned 24 last month means that Klopp could fine-tune him even more in preparation for next season.
Although Mane boasts an impressive goal return in his two-year Premier League spell at the young age of 24, the proposed £25 million move seems a lot of money for someone who only has the Austrian Bundesliga and Super Cup on their CV. Liverpool need to sign some leaders, or at least players who have winning DNA, as the current crop of that Jurgen Klopp has at his disposal possess very few honours between them, with James Milner being the only one with a stand-out honours list.
Mane can also go long spells without scoring or assisting, which could be a worry for Jurgen Klopp should he make a £25 million bid. Efficient end product in the midfield areas, and scoring or assisting, is often where Liverpool fell short last season. There is also a question over his attitude with a lot of his more notable performances coming against the top clubs in England. It could simply be coincidence, or it could be him angling for a move elsewhere.
Not wishing to go over old ground, but there is a feeling that Southampton are turning into some kind of feeder club for Liverpool now, and for a side whose highest ever ranking in the Premier League is seventh, there remains a question as to why Liverpool are targeting so many players from them.
Should Liverpool make their move for Mane, they will have to go head to head with Manchester United and Tottenham for his services.
By Lewis McMenamin
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Sharon Cadden