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Opinion

Liverpool struck gold with Sadio Mane

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Liverpool have enjoyed a remarkable season, bringing home both the FA and Carabao cups, alongside a second place Premier League finish and a narrow defeat at the hands of Real Madrid in the Champions League final. They were inches away from true greatness.

Their rise to being able to compete on all fronts must be attributed to their manager Jurgen Klopp, who since his appointment in 2015 has taken the Reds from strength to strength. His tactics and intelligent recruitment style has seen Liverpool lauded for their “heavy metal” football and shrewd transfer strategy.

One player who perfectly underlines their transfer success over the years is Sadio Mane, their Senegalese star currently linked with a move away from the club.

The 30-year-old was poached from Southampton during Klopp’s first summer window at the tender age of 24, becoming only his third signing for the club.

Coerced for a reported £34m fee, many questioned the decision to spend what was at the time quite a large sum of money on a winger with only 11 league goals that season.

However, he quickly became the main man at Anfield. In his first season at Liverpool, he increased that tally to 13 goals in 10 fewer games. His finest goalscoring season came in the 2018/19 season, where he recorded an astounding 22 league goals from left wing in a season that saw the Reds win the Champions League.

His rise since joining from the Saints has been nothing short of meteoric, and he currently sits in the 96th percentile for non-penalty goals, and the 99th percentile for non-penalty expected goals per 90. His proficiency in front of goal for a winger has been frightening.

It is these performances that have led to his array of personal honours, particularly around 2019 when he won African footballer of the year, the Premier League Golden Boot in the 2018-19 season, and even finished fourth in the race for the Ballon d’Or. Even Lionel Messi himself claimed the Senegal international should have finished higher in those rankings.

His ever-growing trophy cabinet and consistently supreme performances have unsurprisingly led to an upsurge in his value.

In fact, when first signed from Southampton the forward only had an £18m rating on Transfermarkt. This has grown every year since, with his value peaking in 2019 when he was allocated a mammoth Transfermarkt valuation of £135m. Naturally, with age and his public exit plans, his value has since returned to a modest £72m.

The initial three-year rise from 2016 to 2019 represents an overwhelming 650% increase in value, whilst now at 30 years of age, that’s an increase of 111%.

Something of a masterclass from FSG.

Jamie Carragher has never been shy of voicing his opinion on Liverpool’s squad, and notes Mane as his favourite player and who he thinks is in a direct “shoot-out” for the coveted Ballon d’Or with Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema.

Likewise with Klopp himself, who once claimed:

“He’s a machine, I told him after the game, massive player.

“[His] physicality is brutal, this mix of technique, desire, and physicality in this moment when everybody has a few yards in the legs…you can see it with him to be honest. Top goal, just fantastic, a world-class player.”

The 5 foot 9 gem has been as reliable as can be for Liverpool since he made the switch all those years ago. He has scored bags of goals and won all there is to win, which could explain his sudden urge to leave Anfield.

It must be said that wherever he goes, he will undoubtedly succeed, and he can leave the club safe in the knowledge he will forever be cemented in their illustrious history.

In other news, Klopp already has the perfect Henderson heir at Liverpool in “outstanding” 19 y/o gem.

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