Why Sadio Mane has still more to offer Liverpool
This time last season Senegalese forward Sadio Mane was the man on every Liverpool fan's lips. The former Southampton winger had signed for the Reds for £35 million from the South Coast outfit after an impressive two years at St. Mary’s. This term he has been usurped by Egyptian talisman, Mohammed Salah. The former Chelsea man has taken to Anfield like Donald Trump to a tweet, scoring 30 and creating 10 more. Mane has become an afterthought for the Kop. Salah and Roberto Firmino, himself having a tremendous season, have been drawing all the love.
Mane has been inconsistent. Allegations he is no longer feeling loved have become something of a reality. However, his hat-trick against Porto at the Dragao in Liverpool's 5-0 Champions League Round of 16 first leg romp reminded everyone he has quality. Mane has now registered 12 goals and assisted on seven. For most players, those would be strong numbers. They are quite low for a player of Mane’s quality. In comparison, Salah has been involved in 40 goals in 36 matches, Firmino 32 in 37 games.
Should the pacy winger hit form at the right time, Liverpool will truly be a force to reckon with. The latter stages of the Champions League beckon. Against Porto, he was excellent, looking a cut above the rest. There is room in the lineup for him if he can make his case. Phillipe Coutinho has moved on to Barcelona. Adam Lallana is still working himself back to match fitness. Mane's quality is not in doubt. On his day he can trouble any defence. His problem is he doesn't deliver those days as frequently as his teammates.
He can improve his decision-making as well. Against Everton in the second Merseyside Derby last season, he kept his head down to shoot rather than looking up to see Salah alone in space with a gaping goal waiting. Mane's shot was the more difficult and he didn't finish. That poor choice contributed to the Reds dropping two points to the Toffees.
The media has been peddling rumours he is jealous of Salah even though Jurgen Klopp has dismissed the talk as just that. The German tactician has always stuck with Sane, even when he has dropped form. Now is the right time for the Senegalese to repay his manager’s trust.
Teams have begun focusing on Salah and Firmino, trying to eliminate the most dangerous threats. Mane has more space open to him. If he can begin taking his opportunities, then lay off when defenders shift their focus to him, his personal numbers will rise.
Salah is the better finisher. Mane has more flair and finesse than both the Egyptian and Firmino can muster. He should be able to draw defenders like flies to honey.
Twenty goals and 15 assists by season's end will see him finish on a strong note. Mane loves the spotlight. What better way than to be the one in the news by scoring and creating goals with reckless abandon? His manager, teammates, and fans would love that. He has more to offer Liverpool.