With Rickie Lambert moving on, Adam Lallana fitting his manager's plans like a glove, Nathaniel Clyne solidifying himself as one of the best fullbacks in the league, and the Lovrenaissance nearly coming full circle towards the end of the season, the general attitude among fans regarding Liverpool being linked with yet another Southampton player should be vastly more positive than it was last summer. And so we should be able to take a look at the report that the Reds are supposedly lining up Sadio Mané as an alternative to Mario Götze without silly invective about Southamptonpool or lack of ambition.
According to sources close to the club, a £25m bid is reportedly in the pipeline for the Senegalese winger. Jürgen Klopp is though to be a fan of the player, going back to his days at Austrian juggernaut Red Bull Salzburg, where Mané scored 45 goals and assisted another 32 over the course of 87 appearances, eventually earning his £12m move to Southampton in 2014. In the Premier League, he has scored or assisted every 158 minutes - similar to Philippe Coutinho's output this season - converting at a 14.5% clip, all of which is very solid for a non-striker.
Most Liverpool fans will be familiar with the 24-year old, as he has scored four times against the Reds in four appearances over the course of two years. For those who aren't, he plays as a winger or wide forward, using his elite speed and direct running to terrify defenders, while his excellent close control allows him to carry the ball at pace while still keeping his head up. He is particularly lethal in the transition game, which would suit Klopp's gegenpressing approach perfectly, and, having played in a similar system under Ronald Koeman, he will be familiar with the demands of a counter pressing game. His 2.6 dribbles per 90 minutes outperforms every Liverpool player not named Jordon Ibe, and his defensive output of 2.7 ball recoveries falls somewhere between Coutinho and Roberto Firmino. What he does offer that is currently in short supply at the club is the combination of athleticism, game intelligence and end product.
His name may not carry the superstar heft of Mario Götze, and his rumoured price is more indicative of the market than that of the latter - driven as it is by the German's contract situation - but his production is similar and his particular set of skills might fit the puzzle of the Liverpool team better. Klopp being familiar with and a fan of the player should further ensure fans remain positive about the prospect of Mané pulling on a Liverpool shirt next season.