A clash between Liverpool and Manchester United is always one of the most highly anticipated games of the season. Many fans arguably see this rivalry as being bigger than their local ones, and emotions almost always boil over whenever the two sides meet.
Both teams have already been busy so far this summer. On Tuesday, Sadio Mane completed his move to Liverpool while a day earlier Manchester United agreed a fee for Borussia Dortmund's Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
With both clubs making marquee midfield signings, we've put the two players head-to-head in a bid to work out which club got the better deal.
SUBMIT AN ARTICLE
Apply to become a GMS writer by signing up and submitting a 250 word test article: http://gms.to/haveyoursay5
The two players will be judged on their price above all else. With a big price tag comes a big expectation.
Liverpool secured the services of Mane for £34 million, signing the Senegalese international from Premier League rivals Southampton. The Reds have a history of signing some of the Saints' top players, and perhaps they paid a little more than they wanted, as the fee could rise to £36 million, which would make Mane the club's most expensive ever signing.
Manchester United appear to have grabbed themselves a better deal. Sky Sports report that a fee of just over £26 million had been agreed to take Mkhitaryan to Old Trafford. He looks set to be the second signing after defender Eric Billy under new United boss Jose Mourinho, who is said to be a big admirer of the Armenian.
Mane and Mkhitaryan played a strikingly similar amount of minutes in their respective leagues last season. Mane was on the pitch for 2599 minutes last season, playing in all but one of his side's league games.
Mkhitaryan played 2574 minutes, just 25 less than Mane, but only featured in 31 games. (There are only 18 teams in the Bundesliga, meaning teams play a total of 34 league games in the season.)
So in terms of playing time, the two players put in very similar stats, and it's too close to call over which one will be able to inspire their team should they need it late on in the season. Although Mane may have a slight advantage, as he is already accustomed to the Premier League.
Midfield players must be judged on their performances in the middle of the park. It is not their priority to get up and score goals, but instead, to be the main creative force to help set up others to do that.
Over the course of last season, Mane produced the following stats:
Pass completion: 81%
Chances created: 41
These stats should be compared against Mkhitaryan's, and he posted these numbers:
Pass completion: 75%
Chances created: 82
In this area, Mkhitaryan is clearly the superior. He created twice as many chances as Mane and made almost three times as many assists.
However, whether he can replicate this form in the Premier League is yet to be seen, but as it stands, it's advantage to Mkhitaryan and Manchester United.
Defensive displays and discipline
Of course, midfielders can't be all about going forward all of the time. The ability to defend and protect the back four is vital for everyone, regardless of their position.
Mane had the following stats in the Premier League last term:
Duels won: 50%
Tackles won: 39
Fouls committed: 43
Yellow cards: 5
Red cards: 2
Meanwhile in the Bundesliga, Mkhitaryan finished with these stats:
Duels won: 48%
Tackles won: 39
Fouls committed: 53
Yellow cards: 5
Red cards: 0
Once again, the two players are very evenly matched. They both made the same number of tackles over the course of last season and won a similar amount of duels.
Despite being sent off twice Mane actually made 10 fewer fouls than Mkhitaryan. Although it's very close, the new Liverpool man takes this round, based on the fact that the Premier League is a little tougher and more physical than the Bundesliga.
The final piece of criteria the two players can be compared over is their finishing and final product. Although they are not expected to fire their sides to victory in every game, chipping in with a goal or two may prove incredibly important come the end of the season.
Mane's end product:
Total shots: 86
Shot accuracy (on target): 52%
Meanwhile, Mkhitaryan's finishing looked like this:
Total shots: 81
Shot accuracy (on target): 48%
The similarities are clear to see when comparing these stats. The same amount of goals from a similar number of shots shows there is no clear winner here, with both men producing a good end product.
If we take all of these stats together, it's obvious that the two players have very similar styles. They are almost identical when it comes to creating chances and defending for their teams, and both have a solid end product.
Perhaps then, the decider is the price tag. With Liverpool spending at least £8 million more than United, they will be expecting Mane to perform at a higher level than Mkhitaryan.
And whether the Armenian will be able to achieve the same numbers he posted in the Bundesliga at his new club remains to be seen.
But one thing is certain, when these two players meet next season, expect fireworks at both ends of the pitch.