In many ways, the 2021/22 season ended on a disappointing note for Liverpool, as an agonising second place EPL finish and UCL final defeat to Real Madrid left the Reds with a domestic cup double as opposed to an unprecedented quadruple.
The pre-season has also been mixed to date, with the arrival of striker Darwin Nunez and the decision of talisman Mohamed Salah to sign a new three-year deal offset by the departure of iconic forward Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich.
Mane often appeared to be in the shadow of the more prolific and selfish Salah, but his contribution to Jurgen Klopp’s successful side has been immense. So, how will the Reds’ new-look forward line fare without the Senagalese forward?
Mane at Liverpool – What Do the Numbers Say?
Unsurprisingly, Liverpool will start next season as the 2/1 second favourites to win the Premier League (behind Manchester City), and you can use this 888Startz code to secure your welcome bonus and back the Reds to win a second title under Klopp’s leadership.
But can they do it without Mane? Certainly, the forward has been a mainstay of the Reds’ attacking and defensive excellence since he joined Liverpool in the summer of 2016, playing in all three forward positions during this time.
Overall, Mane has scored 120 goals and provided 38 assists in 269 appearances during his six-year Anfield career, creating a total of 158 goals involvements at rate considerably better than one every two games.
Mane has also scored 20 or more goals in four of his six seasons at Liverpool, including 23 in 51 appearances across all competitions during the most recent campaign.
But what about off the ball? Well, Mane has historically been one of the team’s most effective pressers, with this tactic key to Liverpool’s renowned ability to sustain attacks and force errors from the opposition when they play out from the back.
In fact, Mane often led the side’s press from the left-hand side and central areas, with 30% of his presses being successful on average. By comparison, Diego Jota is successful with around 27% of his presses, while the same percentage also applies to Salah’s off the ball workrate.
A success rate of 30% is incredibly high for a centre forward or wide attacker, and it has yet to be seen whether the skilful Luis Diaz and new signing Nunez can match this output as part of a new-look forward line.
How Much Will the Reds Miss Mane?
With Roberto Firmino (who is another supreme presser) also more of a back-up than regular starter these days, the loss of Mane could have a negative impact on Liverpool’s ability to press aggressively and efficiently from the front.
Certainly, we have yet to see whether Diaz can consistently press with the same hunger and intelligence as Mane (as well as score at the same rate over time), while Nunez will need time to adjust to the rigours of the EPL and Klopp’s relentless and style of play.
So, there will be huge pressure on Jota and Salah to lead the press in Mane’s absence, although there’s no guarantee that the Portuguese will be a regular starter given the promise of Diaz and the sheer financial investment that has been made in Nunez.
Obviously, Liverpool will miss the output of Mane both on and off the ball, while his sheer presence and impact on opposition defenders will also be a loss once the new season gets underway.
The question that remains is how quickly Liverpool will react to the loss of a modern-day legend, as the Reds’ new and exciting forward line looks to hit the ground running and successfully maintain Klopp’s trademark playing style.