The path from the Southcoast to the Merseyside was a well-trodden one and Sadio Mane trod on that same path in the summer as he switched from the striped Southampton outfit to the much famed red of Liverpool. The world knew what Liverpool was getting as pacey players seemed to be the mantra from Klopp. Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho were already well versed about football on the English soil and so was Sadio Mane.
On the opening day robbery at Arsenal to even the early beginning of January now, the Senegalese has been an absolutely crucial player and one of the best signings in recent times for Liverpool. Mane has scored 8 goals in 18 appearances, has created 29 crucial chances, has won 56% of the successful take-ons, suffered over 65% fouls and he boasts an average shooting accuracy of 60% which is remarkable.
Even though the statistics highlight the player, that is only to a limited extent but Mane has been truly a livewire. Not only does he add to the attack through flair and vision as well as creativity and link-ups, he’s also exceptional at movement off the ball or without it contributing to the famous Gegenpressing of Jurgen Klopp.
In mid-January is The African Cup Of Nations which is scheduled to start on 14th January and end in the early week of February and that means Mane will miss four weeks with Liverpool (should his country make it all the way to the final) at a crucial time where the Reds are pushing for the title.
The significant question is, how will Liverpool cope without Sadio Mane?
The manager and the player himself are confident about it. The simplest solution is to utilise the fit Daniel Sturridge still shrugging off the shadow of injuries that hovers over him. Jurgen Klopp has clearly hinted about the quality the English striker brings and how such a quality is a major back-up in this situation.
Sturridge’s peak was with Luis Suarez and he does well with an extra striker. Liverpool not only have an option but they also have a player in which their tactics won’t have to change much because it’s still a formidable lineup in which every attacking player has flair and pace.
Divock Origi is available as well. Centre-back Joel Matip is set to return as well as he won’t play in the international tournament and it’s a huge boost for the defence. Liverpool might probably shift to a two striker formation or promote Origi to the left wing and the availability of these players indicates that the void left by Mane is covered up and Liverpool fans would only hope there’s no injury otherwise the Reds are set to look forward to a positive new year!
Happy New Year, Liverpool fans.