Jamie Carragher believes if Liverpool had Sadio Mane during the 2008/09 season their long wait to be English champions would have ended.
The Reds, who last tasted championship glory 29 years ago under legendary player-turned-manager Kenny Dalglish, are currently locked in battle with Manchester City for the Premier League crown.
How important is Sadio Mané? Five key things to know…
- Mané has scored more non-penalty Premier League goals than any other player this season
- Liverpool’s no.10 has opened the scoring with six of his last ten league goals
- The Senegal forward has scored in every round of the Champions League since the start of last season
- The wide forward is Liverpool’s all-time top scorer away from home in the Champions League
- Carragher admitted he would rather lose Salah for the run-in than Mané
Mane has been one of Liverpool’s standout performers and is enjoying his most productive season at Anfield since joining from Southampton in the summer of 2016 for a reported fee of £34m.
He’s gone on to make 115 appearances for the Reds in all competitions and to date has registered 54 goals and created a further 21 for his teammates. Mane, as touched upon, is enjoying his best league season for Liverpool having scored 18 goals in 32 matches.
Such has been his form and performances Carragher, who enjoyed an illustrious 17-year playing career with the Merseyside giants, feels Mane belongs in the same company as the esteemed John Barnes.
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“He just wore them [Chelsea] down. Once you know someone’s got you done, you drop off so far you don’t want to get in a 1v1 – ‘don’t get past me’. Once you get a defender as good as Azpilicueta in that situation, you know you’re done,” he said on Sky Sports Monday Night Football of Mane’s performance in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Chelsea.
“It’s not just the goals he’s scoring. The most important goal is the first goal. It’s not just scoring, it’s the importance of the goals Mané’s getting. I think sometimes he goes under the radar – you’ve got Salah, Van Dijk, the goalkeeper – he’s the best wide player Liverpool have had for 30 years. Not since John Barnes have Liverpool had a wide player this good.”
Carragher also said that he would rather lose Salah than Mané for the run-in and that if a player of his ilk would have made the difference a decade when Rafael Benitez’s side battled Manchester United for top dog status.
“We would have won the league in 2009 with Sadio Mané.”
The run in
Liverpool, who are on a five match winning streak in the Premier League, have four matches remaining this season. Jurgen Klopp’s side hold a two point lead over Manchester City but the defending champions have a game in hand which comes at Old Trafford against local foes Manchester United.
What’s left for Liverpool are trips to Cardiff City (April 21) and Newcastle United (May 5) plus home meetings with already relegated Huddersfield Town (April 26) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (May 12).