Former Tottenham Hotspur and France forward David Ginola believes that Sadio Mane’s absence for the clash with Manchester United on Saturday could be decisive.
The Senegalese forward has been Liverpool’s finest player so far this season, netting three goals and claiming two assists, but faces six weeks on the sidelines after picking up a hamstring injury against Cape Verde during the international break.
And Ginola was quick to stress just how important Mane’s absence could be in determining the nature of Saturday’s contest at Anfield.
“On average Liverpool with Mane and without Mane, you can see the difference,” he said. “The difference is massive, so you can’t at this stage lose a player like him.”
“There’s not so many players out there that can make differences by themselves. Liverpool especially we talk a lot about (Philippe) Coutinho, Sadio Mane is another one.
“When you are Jurgen Klopp facing games like the ones coming up, very tricky, very important ones, you need your best assets to put into the starting XI.”
If you wanted to gauge how vital Mane’s presence is going forward, just look at Philipe Coutinho whenever he picks up the ball.
The Brazilian will more or less always look to Mane first, and 25-year-old, in turn, will always seek to make himself available. Indeed, the entire dynamic is similar to when you and your mate are the only good players on your five-a-side team, so the others just kind of get overlooked.
Of course, with Roberto Firmino next to him, Coutinho still has players around him capable of inflicting damage in the final third, but with Liverpool already struggling for precision in front of goal you imagine Mane was the last player Jurgen Klopp wanted to lose.