Sadio Mané has started off the 2018-19 Premier League season with an absolute bang.
Mané became the first player to score in three consecutive opening day fixtures since John Barnes with his two emphatic goals (in Liverpool’s opening day 4-0 victory) against West Ham United and followed that feat by becoming the first player in club history to score in three successive games against Crystal Palace. His 93rd minute match winning strike was his sixth in eight Premier League matches against the Eagles and the most goals he has scored against a side, bringing his 2018 goal tally to a total of 16 in 27 games across all competitions.
Mané has been playing with more buoyancy and boldness since changing his shirt number to his desired 10. And one only needs to watch his new goal celebration, where he points to the digits on his back, to see how happy he is to have that number once again. Mané, who was born on the 10th of April, had worn the number at Redbull Salzburg for the 2013-14 season and played as number 10 throughout his career at Southampton, while 10 is also his squad number for the Senegalese national team.
At 26, it is evident that Mané has grown in self-confidence and appears to be enjoying his immense footballing talents even more than previous seasons. Jürgen Klopp believes that confidence has been the missing component and is the key unlocking Mané’s ultimate potential as a footballer. Speaking to the Liverpool Echo after Monday night’s win at Selhurst Park, Klopp had this to say about Sadio Mané:
Sadio did start pretty well last year. He was in fantastic shape then came the City game and an unlucky situation. That was not good. I think he had an injury then as well, a little one.
Now he’s much more secure that this is his level. The players surprise themselves sometimes. ‘Wow, really? That’s how good I am?’
We all need to show our best and get used to it. Sadio is a very consistent player for us. His work rate is great. We have a very strange 4-5-1 formation with Sadio as a midfielder, Bobby (Firmino) being a midfielder more or less and Mo (Salah) being a striker, even though he plays in a little different position.
We talk about the defensive work rate they put in and that’s really important…
It’s quality. We have to make sure we can show that every week. Who scores the goals is not too important but it was very important for us and very nice for Sadio that he could do it.
And it’s very nice for those, like me, who have loved him since his Southampton days, to watch Sadio be every bit as awesome as we have known him to be.
Here’s to Sadio Mané, Liverpool’s number 10! Y.N.W.A.