Liverpool went through a torrid time in January without Sadio Mané, with the Liverpool star off with Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations. And for Mané, given his country was knocked out of the quarter-finals on penalties by eventual winners Cameroon—with Mané missing the decisive kick, no less—things weren’t a whole lot better for the player.
Now, though, he’s back, and it hasn’t taken him long to reaffirm just how important he is to Liverpool this season and to the club’s hopes of finishing in the top four. It might not entirely make up for his disappointment with Senegal, but a Champions League berth at the club level would certainly be reason for celebration for the 24-year-old star.
“I want to thank all the supporters for what they have done for me,” Mané told the Liverpool Echo today. “I was very happy to hear that when I came off against Tottenham. Having that support means so much. It has really lifted me since I came back. I know that sometimes it hasn’t been easy for them, but they are always behind us and always pushing us.”
Now, Mané and his teammates will be looking to push on and finish strongly, with captain Jordan Henderson targeting 13 victories in their final 13 games. And given how much better the club have looked with Mané, both in the autumn and again on the weekend against Tottenham, such talk might be hopeful but one can’t dismiss it entirely.
“It was difficult because the results were not so good,” Mané added when asked about having to watch his club teammates struggle while he was busy with Senegal. “When we weren’t playing or training, I was watching the Liverpool matches. Even when I am not here, my heart is always in Liverpool. Now we have bounced back and we have to keep it like this.”