One thing is fairly obvious in the current Liverpool squad – it lacks wingers. Jurgen Klopp said as much earlier in 2016.
“We have enough strikers – five with Roberto [Firmino] – but not too many wingers, just a few young ones with great potential.”
Jordon Ibe aside, Liverpool lack the players that provide real width. Adam Lallana, Firmino, Philippe Coutinho or James Milner are more regularly tasked with starting in the wide areas, but are most at home drifting across the pitch laterally to affect a game in central areas.
Not only could the Reds do with boosting their options out wide, but a player who has pure pace and possesses a genuine scoring threat running in behind wouldn’t go amiss either.
The majority of Liverpool’s attacking midfielders are more about technique, flair and effort over outright speed and this to a degree limits the impact of Klopp’s Gegenpressing playing style.
Furthermore, no Red scored more top-flight goals than Firmino’s 10 last season and Klopp will need a couple of players to be more reliable sources of goals than this if Liverpool are to be considered realistic title challengers in 2016/17.
One player that emphatically ticks both of these boxes is Southampton’s Sadio Mane.
The latest speculation is that a £30m transfer fee has already been agreed between the two sides, with the Senegal international already at Anfield to undergo a medical. If this goes well, the finalising of the deal is considered imminent.
For a player of Mane’s inconsistencies, this fee initially looks on the steep side, but there is no doubting that if Klopp can transform the 24-year-old into a more dependable attacking threat, it could prove money well spent.
He has reached double figures for goals in each of the last two Premier League seasons, but is incredibly streaky.
Mane ended last term with eight goals in as many appearances and also scored five in a five-game stretch earlier in the campaign. In between he netted one in 21.
Interestingly, all of his 11 league goals came from inside the box and despite Liverpool having over 100 more opportunities from 18 yards or closer than Southampton, the Saints outscored the Anfield natives in this regard.
Mane has all of the attributes to be a hit at Liverpool and his skill-set is certainly something Klopp lacks in his squad. If the former Dortmund boss can make him any more consistent, don’t be surprised to see Mane end 2016/17 with 15 or more Premier League goals to his name.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.