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Once described as ‘the best player in the world’ by James Redmond in an infamous clip, it’s now a debate if he should be a starter for Liverpool.
Mané signed for Liverpool in 2016 for £34 million and hit the ground running in his first season, scoring 13 and assisting nine whilst helping Liverpool grab a Champions League spot for the first time in three years. He created a breathtaking trio alongside Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino in which they contributed significantly to Liverpool’s Premier League, Champions League. Super Cup and Club World Cup triumphs.
In total, Mané has scored 102 goals and assisted 44 times in the five years he has been at Liverpool. However, his numbers and performances have dipped notably.
Well…what has really changed with Sadio Mané? The answer is: everything.
He’s not the same player anymore. Not only have his numbers dipped, his overall game of give-and-go football and running at defenders have slowed down too. He’s a shadow of his former-self and the numbers back this up. In 2020/21, his shot creation action (SCA) was a career high of 124, this means that he created a shot through a rife of methods which led to a shot – this could’ve been a tackle, a shot, a dribble or a foul drawn. The reason this supports his downfall is that he got Liverpool-career low of 16 goals in all competitions whilst creating these chances for both himself and the team – his clinicality has majorly dipped.
A shot creation action doesn’t necessarily mean a chance creation. His chance creation was at the lowest it had been in three years last season; his decision-making had declined. He created shots but not nailed-on chances, he wasn’t picking out the right options.
What should Liverpool do?
For me, Mané should still be a starter in Liverpool’s front three, alongside Diogo Jota and Mo Salah. This is less to do with his own brilliance, and more to do with the similar decline of Roberto Firmino.
Although Mané should start for Liverpool this season, Klopp and co should be looking for a new player to replace him. You hear the Kylian Mbappé, Erling Haaland, Jarrod Bowen, Karim Adeyemi shouts, but Liverpool should really be going for Federico Chiesa. The previous-listed bunch would be welcomed with open arms at Liverpool, all four are brilliant players. However, none fit Liverpool like Chiesa does.
Chiesa is relentless; energetic, powerful, quick and has a brilliant eye for goal. This is the closest Liverpool can get to the best Sadio Mané we’ve ever seen – the Mané of 2019.
Whilst Chiesa won’t come cheap, Liverpool should throw absolutely everything to get this deal done. He has just set EURO2020 alight, being a major factor in Italy’s tournament win. The most impressive thing about that – he’s not just some international-tournament wonder: Federico has scored 61 career goals and assisted 40, whilst playing for Juventus and Fiorentina. Just in-case you didn’t know: he’s only 23.
Whilst Chiesa would be a thrilling signing for the reds, not one fan will ever forget what Sadio Mané has done for their club. The truthful answer to the big question is: yes, he is past his best. But his best will never, ever be forgotten. Never.