Already looking like the signing of the summer, Liverpool attacker Sadio Mane is almost certain to start when the Reds visit Stamford Bridge later today and though Chelsea boss Antonio Conte will have no doubt prepared his players well to deal with the pacey Senegalese attacker, his counterpart in Jurgen Klopp has more than one trick up his sleeve.
“Width and space, yes,” Klopp said when asked what the former Southampton man brings to his side. “But we have given a masterclass I‘d say in games without the space created by Sadio. We don’t have slow players but he is a specific kind. He’s quick, plus a good footballer, and that makes it an enjoyable package,” enthused the German manager, though he was quick to point out that he’s not about to get overly reliant on his many talents. “But a few of the best games we played until now were without him. We are happy to have him here but it is not that we now create the plan around him.”
While making a player like Mane the focal point of your attack isn’t exactly the worst idea, Klopp has a pretty decent amount of attacking options at his disposal with the Brazilian duo of Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino competing for spots in the squad with Daniel Sturridge, Divock Origi and a resurgent Adam Lallana. The Reds boss has said that improving his forward options wasn’t exactly easy considering the talent he’s already able to call upon, but he knew the Senegal man would be the kind of player that’d work well in his all action style of football.
“From the first moment it was pretty much clear that he would be good for us,” said Klopp. “I was really happy when we signed him and I heard the deal was done. The best thing was he could make the pre-season with us,” explained the Liverpool manager. “He had brilliant moments in one of the other easier games, had weaker moments in another, he went through the normal cycle you go through for a pre-season. At the end he made all the sessions and that was the best base for fitting in as quick as possible.”