LIVERPOOL’s shock 2-0 loss to Burnley last Saturday left a bad taste in the mouth of almost every Kopite, writes ANDREW DAVID.
It also caused many to ask the question – can we function without the athleticism and guile of Sadio Mané?
He was noticeably absent from the Reds’ lineup at Turf Moor, after injuring his shoulder in training mid-week. His electric pace, flair and finishing ability were seriously missed by Jürgen Klopp’s men, as they failed to break down an impressively drilled Burnley defence, which begs the question who can fill in for Mané?
Lazar Markovic? Sheyi Ojo? A new signing?
With the Reds actually making a profit this summer from the myriad of sales we have made, maybe it would be worth dipping back into the transfer market for an ‘exciting winger’. (And please, a left back. A left back. My kingdom for a left back.)
To be clear, I am in no way writing off Markovic and Ojo, as I think they are both very exciting footballers – especially the latter.
Markovic will have to do a lot to push his way into the starting XI as Klopp, although showing an early interest in the Serb, doesn’t seem too impressed with him as of late. Alternatively, he does seem excited with Ojo, but he has only just turned 19 years old and can’t be our only proper back-up to Mané, however promising the young Englishman looks.
I also understand that it is ridiculous to discuss how to handle life without a player who has only played one competitive match for us. However, this immediate longing for him back is due to the fact that he is a terrifying threat for any defence.
He gives Liverpool a completely new attacking option, an option we were lost without on Saturday. Even though we don’t know what life is like with him consistently in our squad, now that he is there – and hopefully will be for a while – we need a person to cover his position, should the worst happen.
So, if we need someone new to cover for Mané, who can we look at?
Well, we have been linked with the 21-year-old Anwar El Ghazi of Ajax, who value him at around £15million which would essentially be a straight swap for Jordon Ibe as far as our accounts are concerned. El Ghazi scored 11 goals in 27 appearances last season, and he looks like he could contribute far more for us than the lukewarm performances Ibe put in for Liverpool over the last few seasons.
However, after Klopp has said that he can’t wait for the transfer window to close, because of how “obsessed” the media are with it, it seems hard to imagine many more signings.
Personally, I am a man who trusts in our manager and I think his mentality, of training being superior to transfers, is refreshing in the modern day transfer record breaking world.
I would like to see Markovic and Ojo get thrown into the mix whenever Mané is not available, as I believe both of them have the potential to be significant players under Klopp.
They need to be given the opportunity to prove themselves which, considering how many chances Simon Mignolet has been given to prove himself, shouldn’t be a big ask.
It seems the type of football that Liverpool are playing now demands a player like Mané in the team – as without him stretching the opposition defence, creating counter attacks, and being a general nuisance to the opposition, we found ourselves with 80% possession and no goals to show for it.
Honestly, I cannot see Jürgen being able to justify to the owners to buy whoever is effectively Mané-lite, when we just forked out £30m+ for the real deal.
What Klopp must do now is prepare someone to be able to step up to the role, and fill Mané’s boots for whenever he isn’t available – particularly, as the African Cup of Nations would take him out for a month. In an ideal world this would be one of Markovic or Ojo, with the boss implementing his ‘training over transfers’ philosophy.