This may be Sadio Mané’s first season with Liverpool, but he already feels indispensable to the team that Klopp is building. With eight goals already tallied in red — first in the league opener against Arsenal, and most recently to clinch victory against Everton in the Merseyside derby -- Mané is Liverpool’s leading goal scorer.
Losing him to the African Cup of Nations during a difficult run of games will be hard for the team, but Mané admits that it will also be hard for him to leave his team when he heads to Gabon with Senegal in January.
“It will not be easy for me to go with Senegal next month,” Mané said. “I would love to carry on playing with my team-mates and help my team, but I think they will understand because it is my country and it is my dream.
“I will be wishing them good luck, but without me the team will be the same. Even better I think. They will cope.
“Coutinho will come back. Matip will come back and Sturridge is back now. I am very happy for him.”
Indeed the one good thing fans can console themselves with is the fact that Philippe Coutinho, as well as a few other injured players, will make their way back into the team while Mané is away.
In theory, Liverpool have the personnel to cope with the lose of Mané for a month. In practice, though, it’s very hard to give up such an in form player at such a crucial point in the season.