As the new premier league season starts, there will be much to reflect on for Liverpool FC after the previous season they had. Although the club finished in the top four in third, only five points behind Manchester United with a plethora of injuries and having to rely on defenders who had never featured for the club before, even having to loan Ozan Kabak from Schalke, many players had a sub-par season according to the very high standards they had set.
Sadio Mane (SkySports)
One of them was Sadio Mane. The Senegalese forward ended the 2020/21 season scoring just 16 goals and providing 9 assists in all competitions (Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup), the lowest since he arrived at Anfield. He played 48 games.
For comparison, fellow forward Mohamed Salah ended the season with 31 goals and 6 assists in over 50 appearances. The Egyptian scored a whopping 22 goals in the league, only a goal behind Golden Boot winner Harry Kane.
Fellow Liverpool forward Diogo Jota scored 13 goals, more than Mane despite playing 18 games less.
Salah, Jota, Mane
Although Mane was still a live wire, waltzed through defences by his electric pace and notably worked incredibly off the ball, a necessity for a Jurgen Klopp player, his overall performances were not up to the par last season. The Senegalese significantly made less of an impact on the ball than in previous seasons. His efforts to assist his fellow forwards and score goals have led to too many instances in losses of possession and comical miss-hits. Notably, his ruthlessness and the clinical edge in front of the goal eluded him last season.
In an interview with French television channel Canal+ (via the Guardian), Mane spoke about how he felt the last season was his worst for the club so far
The Senegalese winger admitted he is amazed as to why his form declined last season. However, Mane remained positive.
Some have even asked questions on Jurgen Klopp’s high intensity, ‘heavy metal’ style of football which demands a lot physically for continuous periods coupled with international football and whether it is responsible for the fatigue and subsequent decline in performances of players like Mane.
Mane shrugged off such questions by admitting he even underwent numerous examinations to try and root out any potential physical issues.
Mane had some time off before this season to recuperate and recharge after the last match against Crystal Palace last season where he scored a brace to confirm the Merseyside club’s place in the top four. He had a good pre-season and looks refreshed.
Mane looked lively in the 3-0 dismantling of Norwich away at Carrow Road in the league’s opening week which looks promising for Liverpool’s title ambitions though the stern test of the Africa cup of nations awaits where the club’s African contingent including Mane will be away at Cameroon representing their respective countries.
Mane for Senegal (This is Anfield)
The Senegalese captain is expected to miss two games but Liverpool have witnessed the pain of losing a title to the finest of margins before, when they agonizingly lost the league to Manchester City by just a point in the 2018/19 season.
Liverpool will certainly have to find solutions in the current transfer market to address the issue.
A rejuvenated Mane will be crucial to the club’s plans as the Reds look to regroup after a difficult season and challenge for the major trophies once again and I believe he will be back to his scintillating best this season.