One of football’s most potent attacking threats is Liverpool’s front three. Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Sadio Mané scored a combined ninety-one goals last season. Jürgen Klopp’s side stomped their way to the Champion League final, buoyed by the goals of those three and now it wouldn’t be too outlandish to hand out “world-class” badges to each of them.
The Egyptian, the Brazilian, and the Senegalese are all a long way from the lands of their formative years. Many footballers have inspiring stories to tell about their journeys from far away places to reach the pinnacle of their profession but Sadio’s sticks out for me.
Teenaged Mané left his village against the wishes of his family, traveling 400km to Dakar in order to play football and hopefully get noticed by someone who could set him on the path to the professional game. He was talented but shy and his demeanor resulted in some coaches passing him over. But Mané persevered and yada yada yada here we are.
Mané signed for Liverpool in 2016 during Klopp’s first transfer window with the club. He has scored a grand total of forty goals in eighty-nine matches. Liverpool’s victory-dance parrot is one of the most naturally athletic players on the team. He scores with both feet. He’s lightning quick, tactically astute and, above all for a Jürgen Klopp team, versatile.
“He is an outstanding player, I never had any other opinion,” Klopp told Premier League Productions. “Since he came in he helped the team so much, he improved so much. He is an outstanding offensive player.
“If you ask me if he is a striker, yes, from time to time; is he a midfielder, yes, from time to time.
“He can probably play a slightly deeper position as well – we don’t have to play him there because we have other players there but he could play it as well.
“He is physically strong, technically strong, he is unbelievably quick, he is quick in mind as well, and he is a good shooter with both feet. That makes a good player and he is a fantastic person.
“He needed more confidence when he came in, the start was really good but I think he was a bit surprised by himself. Everything was good until the first time his shape dropped a little bit and then he struggled a bit with that, because he needed to get used to that he is a world-class player.
“Now, he knows that much better. That helps us. He is a really good player.”
Not many footballers are walking around boasting of their world-class status. And you wouldn’t ever bet that Sadio Mané would be one of them. But someone needs to give that man his badge.