Last season, Liverpool couldn’t cope without Sadio Mane.
Whenever the Senegalese winger was injured or away at the African Nations, Liverpool really struggled. With Mane, they had a 63% win rate compared to the 42% without him.
He was crucial.
But with the arrival of Mohamed Salah, Mane’s form has dipped considerably this season.
He may have already scored eight goals - just five less than last season - but his performances haven’t been anywhere near the standard he set last season.
In recent weeks, Mane has been left out of the starting XI as Jurgen Klopp attempts to find his best form once again.
But just because he isn’t playing consistently well, it doesn’t mean Mane isn’t having an impact. In fact, in Liverpool’s last two matches, he’s made the difference.
The Reds picked up two massive wins over the New Year with 2-1 wins against Leicester and Burnley in the space of 48 hours.
In the first one, Liverpool trailed to an early Jamie Vardy goal against Leicester before a moment of Mane magic unlocked the defence. He back-heeled the ball brilliantly into the path of Salah, who equalised.
Salah went on to grab all three points.
Then, on New Years’ Day, Mane sparked Liverpool into life against Burnley with a screamer from the edge of the box in the 61st-minute. While the home side equalised at Turf Moor, Liverpool won it in injury-time thanks to Ragnar Klavan.
JAMIE CARRAGHER'S TWEET ON MANE
But Mane’s goal was so good that it sparked a reaction from Liverpool legend, Jamie Carragher. After seeing the goal back, he tweeted: “Mane goal! Wow.....back heel assist 2 days ago & this is him having a bad time supposedly!!”
Mane is struggling for form but his involvement in the last two matches have been nothing short of magnificent.
MANE RECEIVED A STANDING OVATION
And it seems the Liverpool players have also acknowledged that. After the match against Burnley, Klopp revealed they all gave Mane a standing ovation for his incredible goal.
"In so many moments he is strong, quick, so many things. And in the other moments where it doesn't click, he scores a goal like this and it is like 'wow'," Klopp said.
"He came into the dressing room and the whole team got up and gave him a hand, because they know. He will be back on top.
"He has made steps. We need him, we need him so much for all the things that are coming. I am happy because I had a lot of players with moments where it wasn't clicking and they never scored. Sadio still scores, and that's really cool!"
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