Former Liverpool midfielder Jason McAteer has admitted concern that star wingers Sadio Mane and Mo Salah could be looking for a new challenge in the near future.
Mane and Salah, who were brought to Liverpool in successive years in 2016 and 2017, have gone on to become unmissable cogs in Jurgen Klopp’s side that has won the Champions League and is well on course to win the club’s first league title in 30 years.
The Reds sit 14 points clear of Premier League champions Manchester City with a game in hand heading into the weekend’s action, with Mane and Salah having scored 21 league goals between them so far this term.
However, recent reports have indicated that Spanish champions Real Madrid are keen on a move for Mane in what would be a mega-money deal, given the Senegal international’s rise at Anfield.
Speaking to the Racing Post about the links, McAteer said: ” I can absolutely understand why Real Madrid would consider making a move for Sadio Mane in the summer – and I could understand if Mane was tempted.
“Real Madrid aren’t quite the force of old but they are still a glamour club and would turn heads. It’s partly a cultural thing, partly a football thing, partly just being a new challenge for a player who, if Liverpool win the league this season, will have achieved all the big goals.
“So it’s whether Mane wants a new challenge, while the challenge facing Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp is ensuring the players are hungry to go again just as they were this season after being crowned European champions.
“Pep Guardiola has had to try to re-energise his team after two title wins and he’s found it tough but it’s something that Jurgen is brilliant at.
“What I would say is that if Mane went I’d worry that it might be the start of things breaking apart because he’s absolutely at the top of his game at the minute and would take some replacing. He’d be harder to replace than Mo Salah in my eyes.
“But we know the really big teams are out there trying to get better and under pressure to entice the best players on daft money.
“I actually think Sadio Mane is quite happy to stay at Liverpool although I can see Mo Salah itching to change things up, if not next summer then next season.”
Liverpool have only dropped two points in the Premier League this term and face Manchester United on Sunday, the team who took those points off the Reds in October.
The 1-1 draw at Old Trafford has been the only real blip in Liverpool’s domestic season so far, with tricky trips to Wolves and West Ham to follow before January is out.