Liverpool have opened talks with the representative of Sadio Mane over a new long-term contract, according to John Percy of The Telegraph.
Mane joined Liverpool from Southampton in 2016, and having signed a five-year deal back then he is bound to the Reds for three more years. However, the winger has been an instant hit at Anfield, a crucial part of Jurgen Klopp’s devastating attack in the lat two seasons, and the club are keen to secure his best footballing years are spent in the Red shirt.
Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah both signed new five-year deals recently, and with players like Naby Keita, Virgil van Dijk, Fabinho and Alisson Becker also committed to the club for a long time, the future looks bright indeed. Mane is the last piece of the puzzle, and Percy feels agreeing a deal should now be a formality.
Klopp pointed out the progress of the club in that aspect himself. We remember only too well how rattled we were last summer by the antics of Philippe Coutinho and Barcelona’s pursuit of the Brazilian. Thankfully, all our transfer thoughts and worries were directed at the incoming players, rather than potential departures this time around.
Coutinho did eventually leave in January, and only now has it become fully clear how right Klopp and the club were in letting him go. The ‘Fab Four’ from the start of 2017/18 became the ‘Front Three’ and no replacement has been signed to fill Coutinho’s shoes, but Klopp stressed that it wasn’t about replacing Coutihno.
“You cannot replace Phil Coutinho with exactly the same kind of player. He’s Phil Coutinho. He has a specific style of play, tactically an outstanding player, can play as the wing, the 10, the 8 – really great,” he said.
“I don’t want to put one of my players in the position where people will now say constantly ‘he’s the Phil replacement’.”
For Klopp, it’s about building a team for 2018/19.
“I think the biggest thing we did in the second half of last season was that we didn’t need to speak too much about Phil. That wasn’t clear in January. How could we have known that? We don’t need to replace Phil. We need to make a squad for the next year. Out there on the market, there isn’t a Phil Coutinho. But there are a lot of good players and we have brought a few of them in.”
Mane recently took Coutinho’s old shirt number to be his own.