Sadio Mané is a player who has positively affected Liverpool since his arrival from Southampton at the start of this season. Unfortunately though, due to the knee injury he suffered in the Merseyside derby last week, he will be out for the rest of the season. As Mane is a very key part of the team, it is important to note what specifically will be lost with him not being in the team, I will outline what needs to be compensated for by the other players to emulate the success that Mane has created.
Mane’s technical ability is superb. No matter who the fullback is, in a one-on-one situation, Mane is bound to get passed the aforementioned fullback more often than not. Intellegent touches on the ball, great flicks that make the attacks more fluid and easier to traverse the opponents defense and amazing step-overs make Mané a very good attacking player. Liverpool have the creative players that can help fill the void, but can they play well enough consistently as Mane does? It would be difficult to do so.
Great footballers are also great athletes and Mane is no exception to that rule. Mane’s ability to really burst into space has been essential to Liverpool, as not only have, at times, the attacks been uninspired and the rest of the team have seemed lethargic at times. One through ball up the pitch that can find Mane is almost always turned into a great attacking chance and has also been turned into many goals scored. Mane is not the strongest player in the world, but he certainly is strong enough to compete with defenders. Liverpool do not have players that can match Mane’s athletic ability at the moment, which would mean that Liverpool may need to change their attacking approach somewhat.
Being smart is essential for footballers and Mane definitely possess the intelligence needed to be categorized as one of the smartest players at Liverpool. His movement and awareness of where he needs to be in relation to the ball and the flow of the attack is sublime. A moment that displays Mane’s intelligence well is the first match of Merseyside Derby this season. Sturridge moved the ball outside the box, took the shot and it hit the post, although the ball’s ricochet off the post looked as if it would come to nothing, Mane was there to react to what happened, and tap the ball in for a Liverpool victory. For someone to replicate that kind of intelligence that Mane has is going to be very difficult.
Feature image credit: Anfield Justice