Sadio Mane: The First Piece of the Puzzle

Following on from Sadio Mane’s goal in the intra-squad friendly this week, it became even more apparent how important the Senegalese international is to Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.

Signed from Southampton for £34million in the summer of 2016, Mane’s was Liverpool’s first big signing under the leadership of Jurgen Klopp.

Throughout the 2015/16 season, Liverpool looked extremely dangerous going forward, especially on the counter, but they lacked pace in the final third.

Roberto Firmino, Christian Benteke, Daniel Sturridge, Phillipe Coutinho and Divock Origi all performed for the club in big games, but they lacked composure when it mattered most.

Liverpool v Sevilla - UEFA Europa League Final - Pundit Arena
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Sadio Mane, in Jurgen Klopp’s opinion, was the man to bring that to a Liverpool team which was on the cusp of a return to the Champions League.

“I had been tracking him since his impressive performances in the Olympics in 2012,” Klopp said.

“Since I came here I have spoken to the staff a lot about him and have always felt he could be a very good signing for us.”

Mane’s first big game for Liverpool was the first game of the season against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium.

Sadio Mane v Arsenal 8-14-16 | Sadio mané, Goal of the week, Liverpool
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The season prior, Liverpool played out a thrilling 3-3 draw against the Gunners at Anfield. It was a perfect example of Liverpool under Klopp at that time; brilliant going forward, but erratic defensively. Mane wasn’t here to sure up that backline, he was here to make sure Liverpool had that cutting edge going forward.

At half time, it was 1-1. Mane had started the game and did look dangerous but Arsenal’s makeshift back four were holding on by the skin of their teeth.

Within 20 minutes of the restart, Mane made it four, with an excellent solo goal from the right-hand side. Arsenal couldn’t handle Liverpool’s new hero.

Within 12 months, a new-look Liverpool side were in Kiev facing Real Madrid in the Champions League final.

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Liverpool had a new hero in Mohamed Salah however, Sadio Mane was just as important along the way.

Klopp’s first star scored in every knockout round of the European Cup. Kiev was no different. Liverpool found themselves 1-0 following the first of 2 errors for Loris Karius. A corner came in, and following a goalmouth scramble the ball fell to Mane and within seconds it was 1-1.

The final may have gone in Real Madrid’s way but everyone left the final knowing Liverpool are a great side thanks to the likes of Mane.

The following season saw Liverpool reclaim their European Cup crown against Tottenham in Madrid.

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Mane didn’t score, but he won the penalty that gave Liverpool the lead after just a minute. In the Premier League, the Senegalese star was Liverpool’s talisman alongside Mohamed Salah with 22 goals. Liverpool finished second a point behind Manchester City but the tides were turning.

This season has seen a record-breaking Liverpool side storm 25 points clear of Manchester City with just 9 games to go. When the Premier League resumes on June 20th, Liverpool need to win just 2 games to claim their first league title in 30 years. Like always, Sadio Mane has been key for Liverpool this season.

The Senegalese international has scored 14 goals and assisted 7 goals for the Reds and when the season resumes, he will be one of the men Jurgen Klopp will look to in order to ensure the title is wrapped up as soon as possible.

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