Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes Sadio Mane enjoyed his best game of the calendar year against Manchester City on Saturday – and hints he may now be forced to rethink the forward’s best position.
Mane has enjoyed another solid season for the Reds. Prior to Saturday, he had still scored 16 goals and weighing in with one assist. That tally though is still some way down on his best season for Liverpool in 2018/19 when he scored 26 times.
Now 30, Mane is out of contract in summer 2023 and, in a sense, very much playing for his future at Anfield. That said, a report on Sunday claims Liverpool have come to a firm decision on his future.
Competition in the Reds forward ranks is currently as tough as ever. And Mane is competing alongside Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota, Roberto Firmino and Luis Diaz for a place in the attack. Liverpool also have cult hero Divock Origi waiting in reserve.
Usually deployed on the left of a three, Mane played in a more central role against Manchester City on Saturday. And the Senegalese star played a major role, scoring twice as the Reds recorded a 3-2 win over Pep Guardiola’s side to book an FA Cup final spot.
There were many observers who rated the game as Mane’s best yet this season for Liverpool.
Responding to the claim, Klopp admits Mane perhaps enjoyed his best outing of 2022. He denied theories though that the signing of Diaz may have pushed Mane to a new level.
Klopp backing for Sadio Mane
“I’ve known Sadio nearly six years, as far as I have known him he’s never needed competition to be the best version of himself. I’m not sure bringing in Luis affected that part of his game. But playing centre suits Sadio very well as well.
“Sadio had some physical struggles since he came back (from AFCON). He couldn’t use his immense physicality every few days. Before game v City, I thought it looks like Sadio physically and that’s why he was able to play the game he played.”
Klopp warns Salah, Mane and Diaz of high standards
Jurgen Klopp warns Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz over high standards at Liverpool
Saturday’s Wembley clash marked another game without a goal for Mohamed Salah.
Out of character, the Egyptian has now gone six games without a goal for the Reds. That tally also stands at a relatively barren one goal in nine now for Liverpool – his joint-worst run since moving to Anfield.
Klopp makes Salah call ahead of Man Utd game
Klopp, however, is far from alarmed.
He knows the Egyptian is still playing well and is backing him to end his wait for a goal on Tuesday. And Klopp knows there would be not better time to end that drought in the huge encounter against Manchester United.
“It’s a completely normal spell he is going through,” Klopp argued. “We’ve spoken about the physical demands. I liked the game against City a lot, it was a really good football game, only a question of time before he scores again. He’s been close enough a couple of times.
He added: “We have had plenty of talks over the time we have worked together and at this specific moment there is no need to talk about the situation. We only speak about the normal stuff about what he has to do in the game and all these kind of things.”