Liverpool have officially signed the exciting Sadio Mane from Southampton this summer for £35 million, the Senegal-born midfielder has signed a five-year-deal with the club and was Jurgen Klopp’s third signing of the summer.
The versatile winger will add goals to the Liverpool squad and will form a formidable partnership with Coutinho and Firmino. Jurgen Klopp is on course to rebuild the Liverpool squad and I take a look at how Mane will fit into the squad next season and what he will bring for the Anfield faithful.
The Reds won the race for the 24-year-old and certainly paid enough to ensure they won his signature with Manchester United long term admirers of the new Liverpool player. Klopp wants to bring back the glory days to Liverpool and Mane is an exciting talent who will give Liverpool more attacking threat and add the odd goal and assist for his new side, he will add quality going into the final third and although Mane predominantly occupy’s the flanks he can also interchange and play the number 10 role, which will give Firmino, Coutinho and himself the freedom to roam and ooze their proficiency. It also makes Liverpool’s attack more diverse and unpredictable.
Although he has only been in England for two years, his performances have not gone unnoticed. Mane has managed 21 goals in 67 appearances for his former club Southampton and has managed to net double figures in both of his seasons at the St Mary’s to date, his fine form has been rewarded managing 36 games for Senegal, scoring 10 goals.
Looking at Mane’s style of play, it is quite obvious why Klopp has spent so much money on his services, the pressing / counter attacking style Liverpool have identified in the last 6 months or so under Klopp have seen them play some excellent football, Mane tracks his fullback brilliantly and if he manages to nick the ball, he wants to use his direct style of play to immediately look to get his side on the counter attack using quick transition.
A real strength is his versatility, he is able to play on either flank, and can even fill in as a CAM, the Senegalese international loves the ball at his feet and then uses his elevated, dazzling dribbling abilities to lure defenders in and then take it past them when the defender commits, he managed 55% successful take ons which is all you can ask from an attacking player and something which will only get better as he matures.
Playing for a club like Liverpool, you are expected to be able to make a difference, something Mane impresses with is his key passes, he’ll work wonders having the athleticism of Daniel Sturridge ahead of him, slotting through killer passes for his striker to run on to, the new Liverpool man managed 1.21 key passes per 90 minutes last season which led to him contributing to 0.21 assists, something which will certainly improve playing with the players of calibre around him at Liverpool.
One of his best traits is his speed, much like Alexis Sanchez and Eden Hazard, he has a low center of gravity and uses this to his advantage. Mane possesses great control and mobility on the ball, something which is a special trait for wingers which often plays a big part of their game, Mane is a fighter on the ball and shows great balance.
The exciting 24-year-old uses both feet well but is more natural on his right foot, which he uses in good effect with shooting, passing and dribbling. Unlike some wingers, who can be guilty of not lifting their heads and just running with the ball, his comfortableness on the ball allows him to lift his head which makes him a team player.
Jurgen Klopp will have a beautiful problem in fitting Coutinho, Mane and Firmino into the starting eleven, each player oozes brilliance and will interchange behind the strike force and give defenders non stop headaches. Each of the three mentioned are very influential on the ball and rarely give the ball away, instead recycle play and get the movement going through themselves, something which the Liverpool faithful should be very excited about watching next season.
Despite showcasing several singular abilities, Mane does also have a few weaknesses that need to be worked on, for example aerial duels, this is an underlying problem which hasn’t massively affected his game but could be worked on, managing to win just 35.14% of his aerial duels last season.
Where does he fit in?
As I have previously written about, I expect Liverpool to go with a 4-2-3-1 next season, this will help the club balance their squad and fit in their most elegant attackers including Sadio Mane.
I can see Mane taking the league by storm next season, he will be playing with similar talents and will be given the opportunity to roam and showcase his abilities, floating from left to right will be a huge plus for Klopp, allowing his versatile front three pick up the ball in any position and work their magic.
The Red’s have landed themselves a brilliant winger, he does have a lot to live up to because of his price tag, but in this inflated market he is certainly worth it. Top 4 must now be the target for Klopp.