Despite the fact it has been a mixed start to the 2016/17 Premier League campaign, one man has stood out for Liverpool so far this season and that man is Sadio Mane. The £36 million singing from Southampton, has looked every inch a player worthy of the price tag, delivering great performances against Arsenal in the Premier League and Burton Albion in the EPL Cup.
It’s little coincidence how Mane was absent from Liverpool’s team last weekend and no goals were scored. Mane has been at the heart of Liverpool’s attacking prowess, scoring a fantastic goal against Arsenal and was involved in the creation of goals and numerous chances against Burton Albion. Mane is a player who clearly takes to the field with the intent of driving forward with the ball, with pace and purpose.
Klopp has been very cautious with his praise of Mane, saying “I really like this player, but I don’t like to talk too much after only two games for him”.
Perhaps the manager should be talking more about the Senegalese and the early influence he has had on the Liverpool team. Fans like to have heroes, a player they know, who when his name is on the team-sheet, is going to make things happen. The early signs have been excellent and the difference Mane makes to this Liverpool team, with his pace and running with the ball, has been tremendous. He is a real threat and teams will start looking out for him as an individual in the Liverpool team, who can do real damage. That is the sign of a star player and as teams start turning their defensive attention to Mane, this will open spaces for other attacking players in the team.
If Mane becomes a marked man, it means he is delivering the goods and Liverpool have a ‘star player’ on their hands. That’s something to celebrate. But a club like Liverpool FC should be targeting quality world class players.
While Klopp has done very well in bringing a player like Mane to Anfield, he attitude towards transfers was brought into question, prior to the EPL Cup match, against Burton Albion. His comments related to the obsession the media have over the transfer window and how “I wait for the day when the transfer window is closed”.
Klopp reiterated how he is happy with the players currently available to him in the Liverpool squad and talked about improving players on the training pitch, as opposed to dipping into the transfer kitty, before the window closes. However, Klopp stopped short of saying he would not be making any more signings this summer but the indications were not very promising.
If the manager truly believes there is no position in the team which requires strengthening, that has to be a worrying sign going forward. Klopp selected a naturally right-footed midfielder to play at left-back against Burnley, when a genuine left-back was available for selection. The selection of Milner, suggests, as many Liverpool fans know, there is a problem at left-back, which needs to be addressed before the transfer window shuts. Furthermore, is Jordan Henderson really the man who can dictate a game in the centre of midfield, the answer has to be no.
Following the sale of Christian Benteke to Crystal Palace, Liverpool have made a profit in this transfer window. While the other teams who want to challenge at the top, such as Arsenal, Manchester United, Arsenal and even Chelsea, have gone for it and spent big, Liverpool have been made to look very thrifty.
That’s not to say the club can meet the spending power of Manchester City, that sort of outlay is not expected by Liverpool fans. However, the defence definitely needs to be strengthened and if this requires spending over the odds on the right player, so be it. The question is, will Klopp be willing to do that or will he be put off by the price tag and work with what he has got?