Saido Mane. The Senegalese midfielder has been enigmatic at times. Last season he was just too good towards the second half. This season, he had an above average first half and has started to show glimpses of premium form in the second half of the season. After showing some great piece of skills and having an outstanding goalscoring form in his very first season with Red Bull Salzburg in the Austrian Bundesliga , he was roped in at Southampton by Dutchman Ronald Koeman. And what a season he had. He holds the record of the fastest hat-trick in the EPL. He finished his very first season in the EPL with 10 goals from 32 appearances in all competitions. Mane has been started to be considered as a big match player as his performances have been consistently good in matches against the big teams of the EPL. The talented Senegalese offers a wide range of prospects as he can be deployed on either side of the wings and is also a lethal weapon in the attacking midfielder position or in the behind the striker role. With such good talent at his possession and a number of good performances under his belt, a host of other EPL clubs are supposed to be looking forward to avail the services of the player. This brings us to the two teams who look to rebuild their squad after a difficult outing in the EPL this year and are looking to bolster many areas on the pitch and particularly strengthen the attack. Liverpool and Manchester United are both supposedly after Mane and only time will tell us where the versatile midfielder will land up after this season. Let us look at how Mane would fit in at both the clubs and thereby ascertain which club would he suit in best?
Saido Mane at Liverpool-
Sounds like a perfect fit. Mane is known for his brilliant runs, his amazing control of the ball, his fast pace and his inch perfect crosses into the box. He is one player that anyone would want to have when they are on the counter-attack. Klopp’s speciality always has been the counter attacks. From Germany to England, wherever the German has gone, he has taken his Heavy Metal football along him. His teams run like a hungry pack of wolves in a counter attack. Sadio looks like a player who would perfectly fit into the Klopp way of management. With Mane at the heart of the attack in a Liverpool team, you can be rest assured that the Liverpool team would be a dangerous one to be dealt with.
But the question comes as to who will he displace in the team. Both Firmino and Coutinho have been brilliant in the attacking midfielder role in the team and Mane would find it difficult to get into his preferred position in the Liverpool team. Even though Mane likes playing on the wings, Liverpool still has players who have settled well into the winger’s role. Both Milner and Lallana are regular starters in the Liverpool team and with Klopp favouring the 5-2-3-1 formation of late, Mane’s position at Liverpool seems like a bit of struggle. He is a great player and would definitely be a threat to anyone of Liverpool’s regular starters but then displacing them from the team would be a huge task.
Saido Mane at Manchester United-
This sounds like an interesting deal. Mane with all his skills and talent might just be the player that Manchester United have been missing this season. Also, his versatility is something that Louis Van Gaal would be looking up to. Van Gaal likes his players to be of utility and offer a number of options to him. In Mane, Van Gaal would get a player whom he can play just anywhere on the attacking front. Plus Mane would provide the pace and creativity in the final 3rd that United have desperately lacked at times this season. Mane has scored 5 goals this season and has registered 6 assists under his name. He has completed 647 passes with 82% passing accuracy in them, 58% being forward passes.
Now he wouldn’t find it that difficult to fit into a Manchester United starting XI. Mata has played most of this season in the attacking midfielder role and his performances haven’t been close to anywhere of what he had produced for Chelsea a few seasons’ back. Plus United have deployed a lot of players on the wings with the hope of striking a balance. Unfortunately, they still haven’t struck it. The likes of Depay, Lingard, Martial, Rashford, and a few others have been consistently rotated in the winger’s role in the hope of finding the perfect mix. Mane would be a player who would be an absolute beast on the wings and creative abilities from either wings would make him an automatic starter in the United squad.
After comparing the above two teams, we see that even though Mane’s playing style is something that perfectly fits into the Liverpool team, it’s Manchester United that would help him get more playing time and harness his skills more.