Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen has floated the theory that Sadio Mane is avoiding winning penalties through fear that Mohamed Salah will score.
Owen’s comments came after winger Mane chose not to go down under contact from Chelsea’s Andreas Christensen on Thursday.
The winger‘s pace helped him evade his opponent, who then stuck a leg out which Mane skipped over.
Mane has not scored in five Premier League games. What’s more, he has only netted once in the past 10 games.
Salah meanwhile, has not scored in three, but has four goals in his past 10.
Competition for goals should arguably be the least of Liverpool‘s worries amid their current slump Indeed, the focus should be on the team finding goals, after another shot-shy display against the Blues.
However, Owen has suggested that the battle between the pair remains as strong as ever.
“I couldn’t believe he didn’t go down there and look, I’m not advocating he does,” the pundit told Optus Sport.
‘It was a great touch and he possibly thought he might get a chance at the end of it, but he did something similar a week ago [against Sheffield United].
Jamie Carragher surprised by Mohamed Salah Liverpool substitution
Jamie Carragher questions Liverpool's decision to bring off top scorer Mo Salah when they needed a goal during their defeat to Chelsea.
“I just wonder, and it might be a little bit of devious thoughts creeping into my head, Mo Salah is the penalty taker in this team, and if he [Mane] thinks he’s getting a chance to score he thinks, “well I’m going to score, if I don’t stay on my feet, Mo Salah’s going to get another penalty.
“These players have been going for the Golden Boot for the past couple of seasons.”
This is not the first time Owen has pointed out the battle between Salah and Mane.
The pundit raised the same issue after Liverpool’s 2-1 win over Sheffield United back in October. On that occasion, Salah hit the post with Mane waiting in space across the box.
Owen admits theory may be ‘wild’
Adding more weight to his claims this time round, Owen said: “It might be a wild sort of theory, but the competitive nature of him and Mo Salah… we’ve seen them not passing to each other when one of them is in a much better position to the other.
“We’re seeing a little bit of selfishness, we’re seeing a little bit of disgruntled behaviour – Mo Salah shaking his head [when he was subbed off].
“I just think a couple of times there, I’ve seen Mane go down for those kind of opportunities… and (to not do it) two games on the spin? It just made me think a little bit.”
In any case, Liverpool’s 1-0 loss to Chelsea made it five defeats on the spin at Anfield for the Reds.