Liverpool are missing Sadio Mane, who departed for Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich in a £35m move during the summer.
What’s the word?
That is according to Dharmesh Sheth who believes that the Reds have not been the same without the Senegal international.
Speaking to GIVEMESPORT, the Sky Sports reporter said: “Liverpool always prided themselves on their pressing game and that always started at the front. And Sadio Mane would always be that fulcrum figure in the front. He would deliver what Jurgen Klopp would want.
“I’m not saying that Liverpool’s current forward line isn’t doing that, but I think you could actually say that they have been missing someone like Sadio Mane, not just because of what he brings in an attacking sense with the goals he scores, but also how he starts the press.
“It’s infectious, isn’t it? Once he starts it, the players behind him continue it and then the defence is protected. The protection that the defence is getting just now maybe isn’t as good as it was in the past couple of seasons.”
Mane enjoyed a stellar time performing under Jurgen Klopp, who surely misses his presence in the Liverpool attack.
Scoring 23 goals and supplying five assists last season, the Senegal star was a vital part of the Reds’ frontline, and the extent of his all-round contribution in attack both on and off the ball is only now coming to fruition amidst Liverpool’s dreadful start to the domestic campaign.
Firstly, the 30-year-old’s competition with Mohamed Salah was unrivalled. Season after season, it seemed that the pair were competing for the title of top goalscorer at the club in a friendly and respectful manner. However, it ultimately drove them on, with the pair asserting themselves as two of the greatest inverted wingers of the current footballing generation.
Salah seems to be missing the competition with Mane despite the emergence of Luis Diaz, who has been a standout player for Liverpool since joining earlier this year.
The Egyptian has failed to make his usual impact this season, with just two goals and three assists to show for his eight Premier League appearances in the current campaign. He has never dipped below 19 for a single top-flight season since coming to Anfield five years ago.
Secondly, as Sheth mentions, Mane’s role as the pressing trigger in attack was vastly underrated and has affected the whole dynamic of the squad, with the midfield looking passive and the defence suffering as a result.
Mane’s average of 7.38 pressures per game in the attacking third isn’t being sorely missed, with Diaz averaging 7.59 pressures in the attacking third, but it’s the 30-year-old’s authority and quality as a pressing trigger which has left a glaring void, with those attributes not easy to replace.
It seems clear that, in this department, he was indeed the “fulcrum figure” for Klopp.