Klopp primes Sadio Mane to ‘exact revenge’ amid worrying belief over Liverpool star

Date published: Saturday 27th November 2021 10:58 - James Marshment

Jurgen Klopp, Liverpool manager, speaks to Sadio Mane after Premier League match at Anfield

Jurgen Klopp is advising Sadio Mane to “pay players back with football” with the Liverpool manager firmly in the belief that opposition defenders are deliberately targeting the Senegalese frontman.

Mane is back in the groove at Anfield this season, scoring nine goals in 17 matches this season. It’s that kind of form that pleases Klopp, especially given Mane’s struggles last term. Indeed, the former Southampton man admitted to taking medical tests in an effort to get to the bottom of a worrying loss of form.

But now back to his best, Klopp feels Mane is being deliberately targeted by opponents looking to wind him up and nullify his effectiveness.

The German was involved in an angry touchline exchange with Mikel Arteta last weekend as the Gunners were beaten 4-0. That was after the Gunners boss reacted to a seemingly innocuous challenge by the forward on Takehiro Tomiyasu.

That came just a couple of weeks after Klopp was forced to substitute Mane at half-time against Atletico Madrid. That decision emerging as a result of the apparent gamesmanship from the Spanish side that Klopp feared would get the player sent off.

Klopp has previously also called out Real Madrid and Flamengo for what he perceives as similar tactics.

And while Premier League opponents tend to be less cynical, Klopp is nonetheless priming Mane to exact revenge.

“For sure for much longer it was a thing, even when it was not obvious to the outside,” said Klopp on Mane’s treatment.

“You can see it in games they go for him because they want to wind him up, even if it is not that obvious.

“But it is two different things; one is to make Sadio be really aggressive during the game. We saw that against Flamengo in the Club World Cup final.

Mane was targeted by Rafinha 

“Rafinha wanted to go for him after he caused them some problems when we played Bayern in the Champions League. That was obvious from the first second.

“But Sadio is now of an age where he is not that emotional any more. But we all need emotions obviously and sometimes we control them better and sometimes less.

“Yes we’ve had these talks. I really don’t think it had anything to do with the situation against Arsenal, it was pretty much nothing, a normal challenge.

“The headline (from his conversation with Mane) is, ‘We pay back with football’. Whatever we do, we pay them back with football.”

Sadio Mane is world-class, Klopp insists

Mane often suffers for having his record compared to his Liverpool teammate Mohamed Salah.

Salah’s goals have carried Liverpool at times during dips in form of others. Last season, for example, was notable given Salah’s form continued even when Mane’s suffered.

However, Klopp insists Mane deserves to be regarded as a world-class talent in his own rights.

“I think we can judge Sadio as an individual, as a world-class player, so that is it. It’s not against Mo (Salah) or whatever,” added Klopp.

“You see the numbers: Mo has 108 goals (in the Premier League) and Sadio has 102 – most of them for Liverpool but obviously some (21) with Southampton. It just shows what those two guys did in the last few years for us.

“With Sadio, nothing was needed really, when you think about last season and this season.

“I didn’t have long talks with Sadio or anything like that. Sadio is a very confident person and we all felt on the first day of pre-season, after a proper break, he was completely 100% there.

“It was obvious that if he was lucky with injuries it would be a really good season for him. That is the quality he has and that is what he shows now.”

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