Sadio Mané may be set to miss the end of the season as her recovers from surgery on a torn meniscus, but that won't chance former Arsenal star Theirry Henry's mind. As he sees it, Liverpool's star summer signing has been the best player in the Premier League in 2016-17.
"I'll have to give [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic a lot of credit, but Sadio Mané has been the player of the season for me," Henry said while appearing on Sky Sports. It's a call that goes against the bookies, who currently see Chelsea's N'Golo Kante as the frontrunner for the honour.
Along with Kante, teammate Eden Hazard, and Manchester United's Ibrahimovic, though, Mané is expected to be a finalist for best of the season awards in England once they begin to trickle out in the coming weeks, which means at least Henry's call isn't a major stretch.
There were some doubts amongst fans of both Liverpool and other clubs when Jürgen Klopp chose to spend £35M on Mané last summer. Since then, though, and considering the inflated transfer market, Mané's fee has come to be seen if not as a bargain than at least as good business.
His importance to his new club was also made clear in January when he headed off to participate in the Africa Cup of Nations and Liverpool embarked their worst run of form of the season. Now, with Mané injured, that has led to some concern and consternation.
Liverpool and Klopp will have to show that in the time since, they've figured out how to cope without Mané, but even if they do, it won't change how impressive a season he's had. And it won't change Henry's belief that Mané has been Liverpool and the Premier League best player.
"Mané is a hell of a player," he added. "He brings something different to Liverpool—but not only to Liverpool, to the entire Premier League. He's been a star this year."