Sadio Mane is an incredible player and he deserves more respect as he has shown recently with his performances for club and country.
It’s still too soon to suggest the former Southampton star is back to his very best but recent whispers on social media that he’s no longer able to offer Liverpool a cutting edge is ridiculous.
With 15 goals and 2 assists this season, he’s contributed his fair share and as he proved with a goal against Benfica, his Champions League experience is vital for the Reds.
Champions League stat proves Sadio Mane importance
While Mohamed Salah may get more praise and often steals more of the media spotlight, his Senegalese teammate has been more influential in terms of goals scored on the biggest stage since 2017/18.
According to BT Sport, no player has more goals in the Champions League knockouts since 2017/18 with Mane level with Cristiano Ronaldo on 13 while Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski have 12. Salah has 11 and Karim Benzema has 10.
His goal against Benfica was down to selflessness from Luis Diaz and vision, execution accuracy from Trent Alexander-Arnold to dissect the defence with a single pass.
Diaz’s headered pass to Mane made it easy for the no.10 to score so the new signing needs to be praised just as much.
Diaz and Mane combination vital heading into Man City encounter
Manchester City beat Atletico Madrid 1-0 at the Etihad in their quarterfinal and will be ready to host Liverpool on Sunday but the form of Diaz and Mane will be vital.
Diaz has already become a key part of Jurgen Klopp’s team and a start in the biggest game of the season would underline his value to his German coach’s long-term plans.
We’ve seen him decimate Manchester City once before already. The former Benfica star scythed through Pep Guardiola’s side with ease when he was still with the Portuguese outfit and a repeat effort would be well appreciated!
As I pointed out before the Benfica game, Diaz’s inclusion on the left opens space for Mane to exploit in a similar way to how Mohamed Salah created room for the former Saints forward against Manchester City earlier this season.
Hopefully, we can see Klopp engineer similar gaps for the Reds’ attackers to exploit as Liverpool have the firepower to beat City – a feat they have not accomplished at the Etihad since 2015/16.
Mane’s £200,000/week contract expires at the end of next summer – in 2023 – and more game-winning performances will help his case in potential contract talks.