Mohamed Salah steals the headlines with his speed and his goals, and Roberto Firmino is the thinking fan’s favourite thanks to his clever movement and unselfishness.
But the third member of Liverpool’s vaunted attacking trio deserves equal billing, especially considering how his recent form has kept the Reds’ title ambitions alive.
Sadio Mane has scored in each of his last four games, and in six of his last ten outings.
Mane is seldom as spectacular as Salah, or as intricately skillful as Firmino, but he is increasingly becoming Jurgen Klopp’s Mr Reliable in this tightest of title races.
His goal against Bournemouth took him up to 12 league strikes for the season, just one shy of his previous best Premier League return, the 13 he scored in his first season with Liverpool, and only four short of his career best 16 with Red Bull Salzburg back in 2012/13.
Starting from the left flank, Klopp knows exactly what he will get from the 26-year-old former Southampton man: speed, directness and an undying work ethic. And, lately, goals.
Mane ranks in the top ten among Premier League forwards this season when it comes to successful take-ons, touches inside the opposition’s box, accurate passes, forward passes, open-play key passes and, of course, goals scored.
His output represents an incredibly well-rounded attacking arsenal, but he is equally as effective without the ball, with more successful tackles than any Premier League forward and the ninth-most interceptions.
And with the Reds set to take on German champions Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the Champions League next week, they will again be leaning heavily on Mane’s reliable contribution from the left side of attack.
Although Liverpool haven’t yet lit up Europe’s premier club competition as they did on their run to the final last season, Mane, despite scoring just once in the group stage, is still producing the goods, ranking in the top ten among the competition’s forwards for successful take-ons, open-play key passes, tackles won and touches in the opposition’s box.
Klopp recently admitted that missing out on signing Mane when he was Borussia Dortmund manager is “one of my biggest mistakes ever”. But the Liverpool boss is delighted to have him on his side now.
“He’s an outstanding boy,” Klopp said of Mane, “and life gave me a second chance to work with him and hopefully we can both use it.”
Eyebrows were raised when Liverpool paid £34million to sign Mane from Southampton in the summer of 2016, but any doubts over his signing have long since been dispelled.
Mane’s contribution is proving pivotal to Liverpool’s efforts to win a first top-flight title in 29 years, and you can’t put a price on that.
*Odds subject to change
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by Tom Bodell