The arrival of Sadio Mané this summer, for most, signalled that Adam Lallana’s role in 2016-17 was set to be somewhat diminished from what it had been in last season, when his work-rate and pressing had set him apart as something of a prototypical Jürgen Klopp player but when his end product had too often let him down.
Based on what has been seen in pre-season so far, though, it will be a hard decision for the manager, as both Lallana and newcomer Mané have been highly impressive. As a result, it could even be that another player will be the one who ends up losing out if Klopp decides he has to get both into his starting eleven regularly.
"He's a very good addition to the squad, believe me,” said Lallana when asked about the club's new signing—and his new competition. “I think we have loads of different players who can play loads of different positions. The manager has got decisions to make but it is great for the squad, to have that competition for places."
In pre-season, the decision has at times been to play more of a 4-3-3 or 4-1-4-1, with Lallana and Mané stacked on on top of the other on the right. Backed up by right back Nathaniel Clyne, it has made for a formidable flank in many of the warmup matches, most notably against Barcelona on Saturday, a game Liverpool won 4-0.
That formation, though, has so far meant playing Roberto Firmino up top—a formation lacking a traditional striker, and similar to Klopp’s approach at times last winter when both Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi were out injured. However it’s structured, somebody is going to lose out, though that’s the nature of quality depth.
"You saw all those different parts [of Mané’s game] against Barcelona,” added Lallana, “but I saw them all in his first couple of sessions with us. We have seen it from working with him what he can do. I could see what he was going to bring to this team. He is different to what we have got. He is unpredictable."