Perhaps one of the best wingers in the world in recent years, Sadio Mane has hit one of his worst runs of form in a red shirt.
With just 12 goals across all competitions, this has been Mane’s worst campaign in a Liverpool shirt to date.
This point was only reinforced on Wednesday as the Reds failed to score against Real Madrid with the match ending 0-0, ending their hopes of a Champions League run.
A player that usually relies on pace, power, and clinical finishing, the £90m-rated star has failed to provide the electric energy that he has shown in recent times.
That same energy that allowed the Senegalese international to become the record holder for the Premier League’s fastest hat trick.
Mane’s goal drought could not have come at a worse time for Liverpool as the club is already missing some of its biggest players. The club continues to suffer in attack, with just a 36% shot accuracy. This season, the entire squad have seems to have dropped off from previous levels.
Of course, the current circumstances that the world finds itself under must be considered.
Professional footballers have essentially been playing football for a year straight at the highest possible level.
This will take a toll mentally and physically, as we have seen on the pitch. That is perhaps the most intriguing part of Liverpool’s dip in form.
When the players take the pitch, they do not seem to be as hungry or determined as they once were. Mane stands out in particular. Mane has always been a player to fight and scrap for every ball and give his everything to win challenges and get the best of his defender.
But recently, Mane has done the opposite of that. It feels as though his touch lets him down constantly and he has begun to give the ball away too easily.
On top of that, he goes down far too easily and is constantly on the ground appealing for a foul.
A couple of years ago at this time, Mane’s instinct and killer touch were on full display for the world to see when he scored that beauty of a goal against Bayern Munich in March of 2019 in what turned out to be a 3-1 victory for the Reds.
That goal encapsulates everything that Liverpool fans have come to expect of the winger since his transfer from Southampton. An impeccable touch, turn, and clean finish allowed Mane to score that brilliant goal that night in Germany.
It is that kind of football that we all miss from the former RB Salzburg man. In a season where everything has seemed to have gone wrong, supporters are left scratching their heads as they wonder what has happened to one the best forwards in Europe.
As mentioned above, it could be fatigue from all of the football that has been played over the last year. On the other hand, there are plenty of footballers who seem unfazed by this.
Such as Erling Haland and Kylian Mbappé.
There are other factors to consider as well such as age, as Mane recently turned 29. He should still have some good years of football left in him even as he approaches 30.
Perhaps this is just one poor season and he will be back next year.
Supporters will continue to hope that Mane finds his form soon. With a finish in the top four still a realistic possibility, the Anfield outfit needs him now more than ever.