Liverpool forward Sadio Mane says that he is looking to return to his pre-pandemic form next season after a lull last term.
The Senegal international dropped off last season, posting 16 goals in all competitions. That may seem like a decent return, but he had scored at least 20 in each of the previous three campaigns. Nevertheless, he has faced a more intense schedule than arguably any other Liverpool player.
After playing 50 games in 2018/19, he went straight to the Africa Cup of Nations, reaching the final. As such, he had no time off before the 2019/20 campaign began.
From there, Mane faced the same struggles as everyone in the Premier League, as last term began straight after the disruption to the 2019/20 season.
Therefore, this summer has been the winger’s longest break for some time. He told Liverpool’s official website that he is raring to go for the new campaign.
Asked about previous admissions of his struggles in 2020/21, Mane said: “Well, I think like I said at the beginning – and when I said it, I meant it, for sure.
“It was not my best season, which I know. Like I always said, it can happen in football but I think it won’t be the same [next] season.
“For sure, I am more ready, mentally, physically, everything, so I think it will be for myself an exciting season.”
Mane will be looking to emulate his 2018/19 performances, when he netted 26 goals in all competitions.
He will have a better chance to do so next season than last, with key players returning from injury. Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip have all recovered from season-ending lay-offs.
As such, Liverpool could yet return to their pre-pandemic form, when they went on a long winning streak.
Mane excited for Liverpool returnees
“I think not only me, I think everybody [is excited]!” Mane said of the returning players.
“As a player we all become like fans because if you see your teammate getting back in training and fit, you just say, ‘Wow!’ When I see Virgil, Joe and Joel, after every training session I say, ‘My friend, how are you feeling?’ because I think to have everybody back in the team is just incredible.
“Because we know what they are capable of doing for the team and for us the most important thing is the team, so having those players fit, 100 per cent – I think you can always see the smiles of the boys and say: ‘Wow, what a season it’s going to be for us again.’”
Liverpool have work to do in the transfer window before the season starts, though. They have bolstered their defence further with Ibrahima Konate’s arrival, while a new midfielder is reportedly a priority after Georginio Wijnaldum’s exit.