Reports of a £34 million deal between Liverpool and Southampton for winger Sadio Mane have been at the forefront of gossip columns and social media over the past few days. Now, his move has been confirmed, and Mane is set to become one of many to follow a path from the South Coast to Merseyside.
Previous players to do so have had mixed success with the Reds. Adam Lallana, and Nathaniel Clyne have been impressive and claimed a starting spot under Jurgen Klopp, while the same can only be said of Dejan Lovren in the latter half of last season, eventually coming into his own. On the other end of the spectrum, Rickie Lambert had been and gone before the former Borussia Dortmund manager even walked through the doors at Anfield.
In what could eventually be The Reds’ record signing, Mane; who has already been replaced by Nathan Redmond at Southampton, would bring in an injection of pace that hasn’t been seen since the days of Raheem Sterling. The Englishman played and flourished under Brendan Rodgers, along with Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez, as the Anfield outfit came 2nd in the Premier League.
Under Rodgers, Sterling often operated in a central position behind the ‘SAS’ partnership, however, when needed the winger was utilised in his favoured role in a 4-3-3 with Sturridge on the right and Suarez through the middle.
It is likely that Mane would fulfil a different role in Klopp’s 4-2-3-1 system at Liverpool. With Mane being brought in for his pace, to get the best out of him he needs to be employed on one of the wings in my opinion. His hard-working ethic makes him equipped to deal with Klopp’s intensive pressing tactic, while his ability to get in behind defences and break the lines with neat touches make him able to thrill in front of the Kop.
Yet, this signing does have its negatives. The consistent speculation about the future of Phillipe Coutinho will only increase as Mane comes in. PSG’s persistent interest may result in Coutinho joining the French side with Liverpool and Klopp happy to trust in their new signing to replace the Brazilian.
Furthermore, it is hard to predict where he will play. The outlay of £34 million suggest he will be a regular, although Benteke; who cost approximately the same, hasn’t been, but then again, Mane doesn’t have a ‘best’ position. The Senegalese international operated behind the striker for the Saints last season, yet flourished for Red Bull Salzburg on the wing.
Being a star player at both clubs allowed him to dictate where he played, but at Liverpool, there will be plenty of contention. Firmino, Coutinho, and Lallana currently act as inverted play-makers, switching positions when in possession of the ball while from right to left. In addition, that same trio form a defensive structure to press the full-backs and holding midfielders.
The new £34 million addition also suggests that Mane will be the only winger coming in this window as Klopp has decided to spend big on a marquee signing. However, who else could have been brought to Anfield instead of Mane? Four of the best alternatives have been included over the next couple of pages. Let us know your thoughts on the selection in the comments, and whether you think Sadio Mane will be a success at Liverpool or not.