For the second time in a week, Sadio Mane was disastrous against Real Madrid and it’s beginning to become a serious concern for the future.
I think many fans are hoping that Sadio Mane miraculously comes right and stops dropping stinker after stinker.
After his latest game, a confusing mix of good and bad against Real Madrid, it doesn’t seem as though his sharp downturn in form is going to be reversed anytime soon.
The former Southampton forward was brilliant for Liverpool for the first 20-odd minutes of the game, flying past Federico Valverde with ease and feeding teasing balls into the box for Mohamed Salah.
The Egyptian should have scored in the opening two minutes of the game but the ball that was squared by Mane to Salah was shot straight at Thibaut Courtois as the tone for the rest of the game was set.
Chance after chance was spurned but in Mane’s case, he simply faded from the game as the pace and proactive dribbling that made him so lively in the opening exchanges just disappeared and he seemed to develop a lethargy despite only being on the pitch for less than 30 minutes.
The left-winger didn’t start against Aston Villa at the weekend so he can’t even blame fatigue for his form. It’s my opinion that he’s not been the same since he caught COVID-19 in October.
The long-term effects of the virus are still unknown and given its impact on breathing, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that it affects stamina and sustained energy levels, even for high profile athletes, for a long time after recovery.
According to WhoScored, Mane had a miserly 14% dribble success rate and had just one shot at goal all game which was off target. He did have the key pass to Salah in the first couple minutes of the game but you really can’t peak in the first two minutes of a game.
Given the question marks that Liverpool fans have over who should leave first out of Mane and Salah, the former is giving his detractors all the ammunition they need to make a compelling argument.
With Kylian Mbappe naturally a left-wing, it makes sense to sell Mane in order to sign the Frenchman especially if he’s struggling to score seven league goals this season.
Something needs to give in the summer if Liverpool are to return to the silverware-winning heights of the 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons and part of me is starting to think that Sadio Mane will be the first to be sold out of Mane, Salah and Firmino.
I’d love to be proven wrong and see the former RB Salzburg winger come right but as things stand, it seems unlikely.