Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has hailed the aerial ability of Sadio Mane, comparing it to that of basketball legend Michael Jordan.
The Senegalese international scored two headers as Liverpool beat Huddersfield 5-0 on Friday night to move two points clear of Manchester City in the race for the Premier League – though the Citizens have a game in hand.
Is Mane like Mike? Five key things to know…
- Sadio Mane scored two headers in Liverpool’s 5-0 win over Huddersfield on Friday.
- The Senegalese also had a chance for a hat-trick but saw another headed effort hit the post.
- Mane has now scored five headed goals in the Premier League this season.
- And Jurgen Klopp has compared Mane’s aerial ability to that of basketball legend Michael Jordan.
- Only Chris Wood and Aleksandar Mitrovic (both six) have scored more Premier League headers than Mane this season.
Mane also hit the post with a third header, preventing him from joining Salomon Rondon and Duncan Ferguson as only the third player to score a hat-trick of headers.
The aerial brace brought Mane’s headed tally to five for the season, with only Chris Wood and Aleksandar Mitrovic (both six) scoring more.
And despite Mane’s smaller stature, Klopp believes the Senegalese forward has always had the aerial prowess in his locker.
“He always had the ability to do that but it looked like his mindset was more a creator, more a door-opener than somebody who runs through the door as well, but of course he has it all in himself,” he told reporters.
“We saw this year he can play easily as a number nine as well. You see how he is in the air. I’m not sure somebody has jumped that high since Air Jordan.
“The third one, it looks like he stands in the air really and then hit the post. It’s cool. We are where we are because the boys are as good as they are. That’s really cool.
“But they couldn’t score if the boys from the wings didn’t pass all these balls, or [Jordan Henderson] again from the half-space with a brilliant ball, really from the training ground.
“It’s nice to see all these things, it’s cool, nothing bad to say about it.”
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Mane’s competition to be football’s Air Jordan
Though Klopp claims he has not seen somebody jump as high as Mane since Michael Jordan, Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo may have something to say about that.
The Portuguese has constantly amazed football fans with his gravity-defying aerial ability, often hanging high in the air for headers.
This is something Champions League followers will have grown accustomed to, with Ronaldo scoring 22 headed goals in the competition’s latest era – more than any other player.
Cristiano Ronaldo has scored more headed #UCL goals (22) than any other player in the Champions League era.
When he jumps, he takes a while to come back down. ⏫ pic.twitter.com/cKFhek6t0s
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 13, 2019
Ronaldo recently scored a Champions League hat-trick to help Juventus come from behind and beat Atletico Madrid 3-2 on aggregate in their last-16 tie, with two of those coming from headers.
And Ronaldo’s first left former Manchester United team-mate Rio Ferdinand in awe of the Portuguese’s ability.
“He’s a living football god,” he said at the time. “It’s ridiculous what he’s doing.
“All the records – in the Champions League, he’s got every record you can imagine. He’s joint most hat-tricks with (Lionel) Messi.
“This goal (first goal) is like Duncan Ferguson in his prime, attacking the ball, leaving the full back in a heap, that’s what you call desire.”