Liverpool’s lacklustre start to the season comes down to many reasons. A number of fans bring up the departure of Sadio Mane as a reason for the poor form of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
The Reds have won two, drawn three, and lost one in their opening six Premier League fixtures. Their “heavy metal” style of football has ceased to exist this season with issues at the back and a lack of goals bar the 9-0 trouncing of Bournemouth.
The recent shock 4-1 defeat to Napoli in the opening fixture of The Champions League, has left many fans feeling doubtful of a title charge for Liverpool this season, and they may be right.
Liverpool looked poor defensively, and the attack could not create enough chances and when they did, they looked like a blunt knife going forward. The loss of a player like Sadio Mane would influence any top European side and it is arguably having a huge effect on The Reds.
Liverpool’s famous front three has been the spearhead of Klopp’s revolution at Liverpool, and Mane was the first big signing Klopp made, coming in at £37 million. Mane scored 120 goals and weighed in with 48 assists in 259 games.
However, despite the fantastic number of appearances, the Senegalese international shocked many fans by announcing his desire to leave the club and the fact he wanted to leave a year prior to his departure. Liverpool sold him to Bayern Munich in 2022 for £28 million as he expressed his desire for pastures new.
The January before his departure, Liverpool announced the signing of Luis Diaz which foreshadowed the departure of Sadio Mane. Despite fans thinking it was squad depth to deal with the quadruple Liverpool was chasing.
Diaz has hit the ground running with The Reds and this season has 4 goals in all competitions, whilst Mane has 5 in all competitions with Bayern. Diaz is more than capable to fill the boots of Sadio Mane; however, the Colombian has only been with the club for six months and is still adapting to Klopp’s style of play.
Sadio Mane’s exit left many fans and pundits questioning Liverpool’s transfer policy and that the sale of the forward was counter-intuitive. Level-headed fans and fans that are close to the club are aware of Mane’s desire to leave the club and that the sale was a mutual agreement with the player and the club.
The acquisition of Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz was the epitome of a second revolution at Liverpool with Firmino’s game time seemingly decreasing and the sale of Sadio Mane, making way for Luis Diaz. Jurgen Klopp has a new forward line that is in transition and will take time to adapt to the system.
Luis Diaz brings flair and explosiveness to the forward line and Nunez brings a more traditional striker style of play. Liverpool’s gegenpressing is a unique way of football and the top sides in Europe such as Manchester City require all their players to run themselves into the ground to bring success to the club.
Luis Diaz provides a fantastic work rate with 14.95 pressures per 90 and Mane had 14.37 pressures per 90; thus, Diaz is keen to thrive in the Jurgen Klopp system. Diaz is proving to be a fantastic replacement for the Senegalese forward. On the other hand, looking at his goals and assists, it could be argued that he needs to provide more and attempt to try and match the level of contributions that Mane provided at Liverpool.
Jurgen Klopp is more than capable of getting more out of the Colombian as shown with Diogo Jota. The Portuguese forward scored 44 goals in 131 appearances for Wolves. Jota found his scoring boots at Liverpool with 34 goals in 44 fewer games and creating 3.32 shot-creating actions per 90 in the last 365 days.
The key problem for Liverpool this season has been their midfield. Liverpool’s injury-raved midfield has been their downfall this season with injuries to Thiago, Henderson, and Curtis Jones. Thiago is the main man in midfield alongside Fabinho who anchors and allows Thiago to dictate play. Thiago makes 8.41 progressive carries and 9.87 progressive passes per 90. He excels in carrying the ball forward and playing that killer pass into the forwards, which have been sorely missed thus far this season.
With Thiago’s return, you see Liverpool at their best. Konate and Matip returning you will see a more solid back four, that is competently anchored by a balanced midfield that can create attacks for the forward players and allow Salah, Luis Diaz, and Darwin Nunez to excel.
It is conclusive that any side would miss Sadio Mane as he is an elite footballer with outstanding output. However, his absence is not the main cause of Liverpool’s form, and with returning players and the right recruitment, Liverpool can get back to their scintillating best.