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Liverpool must upgrade on Sadio Mane to be title challengers

The Senegalese forward has been in good form but Liverpool need someone better to challenge for the Premier League title.

Mathew Nash

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Photo: Getty Images

Liverpool’s dynamic front-three have rightly received plenty of accolades this season.

Mohamed Salah has of course been the star, with 43 goals across all competitions.

Roberto Firmino has also been magnificent. The Brazilian has 27 goals, including 11 in the Champions League.

Sadio Mane has 19 goals, the Senegalese star also having a decent season.

But, despite the front three striking fear into many a European defence all season, it could still be a lot better.

He may have 19 goals and eight assists this season, but for Liverpool to challenge for the Premier League title they must replace Mane.

The Senegal star is a brilliant player and in no way does this opinion suggest he leaves the club. But regarding a front-three for Liverpool, they should spend big to bring in someone new.

The likes of Nabil Fekir and Christian Pulisic have already been mentioned and Liverpool would be right to try and move the team on this summer.

They have been magnificent in the Champions League, but whilst Salah and Firmino chipped in four and seven assists respectively, Mane provided just one.

(Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

Compared to the other two, he is just a step or so below the Liverpool megastars.

Liverpool need another world-beater in their front-three if they are going to challenge Manchester City and other pretenders to the Premier League title next season.

Simply put, if Philippe Coutinho was still at the club, what role would Mane have played this season? That’s the role he should be playing to a superior option.

Mane is excellent and would still be a brilliant member of the team – but as the fourth-choice when it comes to fielding a front-three at Anfield.

Who should Liverpool bring in to replace him? Dreams of Marco Reus and Willian abound. But what is clear is that Liverpool still have plenty of improving to do if they are to be a force in both the league and Europe.

Hopefully, they pick up a deserved Champions League win over Real Madrid later this month. But after that, it is time for the Reds to continue building and mount a Premier League challenge. For that to happen, an upgrade on Mane is needed.

Sports journalist based in Bristol. Previously spent five years writing for HITC Sport. Everton fan for my sins.

Everton

Michael Keane is vulnerable at Everton after Mason Holgate’s weekend performance

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Photo: Getty Images

With Everton captain Phil Jagielka suspended for the Toffees’ weekend clash against Southampton, Marco Silva opted to hand youngster Mason Holgate a start in the heart of defence.

Paired alongside Michael Keane, the 21-year-old gave a mature performance in victory over the Saints and there is now a very good chance that he will be given future first team opportunities.

This could leave Keane very vulnerable, with the likes of Yerry Mina and Kurt Zouma yet to be considered for the starting XI.

Keane hasn’t done anything near enough to live up to the reputation that followed him after his £30 million move from Turf Moor two summers’ ago.

(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

After a difficult start to life in Merseyside under Ronald Koeman, he has since fallen out of contention for Gareth Southgate’s England side.

The former Burnley man has looked sluggish and error prone and there is a feeling around Goodison Park that he will become drastically exposed against some of the more menacing top flight sides.

With £27.19 million summer signing Mina on the verge of full fitness, following the World Cup, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to see him replace Keane in the first team in the coming weeks.

This change would pave way for a young, fresh and exciting centre-back partnership of Holgate and Mina – a solid platform for Silva to build his new team around.

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West Ham United

Is Pedro Obiang the answer for Manuel Pellegrini’s West Ham?

The Spaniard is yet to feature this season.

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Obiang
Photo: Getty Images

Something is yet to click for new West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini, with the London outfit falling short in their first two Premier League games of the 2018/19 season.

This weekend saw an opening day away defeat to Liverpool followed up by a 2-1 comeback victory for Bournemouth at the Olympic Stadium, accompanies by a performance that will have disheartened even the most optimistic of fans.

Despite spending over £100 million during the summer window, it is evident from the first two games of the season that the Hammers need a ball-winning central midfielder, capable of bringing balance to the defence and attack.

(Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

Sitting on Manuel Pellegrini’s bench is Spaniard Pedro Obiang, who became Slaven Bilic’s first signing for the club, back in 2015. The midfielder was a regular in West Ham’s side up to Christmas last season, but he made just one appearance in the Premier League since February.

Athletic and capable of moving the ball forward, the 26-year-old will be a much more dynamic option than ageing West Ham captain Mark Noble. Meanwhile, he would also improve the spine of the team defensively.

Up next for the Hammers is Arsenal. With a central midfield or Noble and Wilshere/Rice clearly not working, it seems a no-brainer for Pellegrini to promote Obiang to the starting XI for the upcoming clash against Unai Emery’s side.

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Fulham

On this day: Leeds cash in on Wood, Coutinho told he’s staying and Seri’s Barca links

What were the big stories in football a year ago today? Including Leeds United, Liverpool and Fulham.

Mathew Nash

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Chopping Wood

One year ago today and Leeds United lost their talismanic striker Chris Wood to Burnley. After a tumultuous summer of rumours and conjecture, the club’s leading scorer left in a club record £15 million deal.

In his two seasons at Leeds the New Zealand international scored an impressive 44 goals in 88 games for the Whites.

Leeds were desperate not to lose the player and ended up paying for his absence. They failed to replace him, with nearest replica Pierre-Michel Lasogga falling short of expectations.

Wood has since gone on to establish himself at Burnley, scoring 11 goals in 26 games during his first season at Turf Moor.

Leeds now have Kemar Roofe firing and also signed Patrick Bamford this summer.

BURNLEY, ENGLAND – SEPTEMBER 19: Chris Wood of Burnley celebrates after scoring a penalty during the Carabao Cup Third Round match between Burnley and Leeds United at Turf Moor on September 19, 2017 in Burnley, England. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

No-go Coutinho

A year ago today and Liverpool had managed to keep hold of Philippe Coutinho. The Brazilian had been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona throughout last summer.

However, as reported by Sky Sports a year ago, Liverpool made it clear Coutinho was going nowhere.

In the end, it proved to just be a stall. Coutinho completed the inevitable switch to Barcelona in January for a fee of £146 million.

However, many Liverpool fans would perhaps argue the club are now performing better than they ever did when Coutinho was at Anfield.

Seri-ous money

Signed by Fulham this summer, a year ago today it seemed Jean-Michael Seri was on his way to Barcelona.

Marca suggested that Barcelona had met the apparent £36.6 million release clause in his contract at Nice. Unfortunately, that clause had expired.

With Barcelona not willing to pay more, they moved on.

Seri joined Fulham this summer for a club record fee.

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