Another Champions League goal for Liverpool means one of Jürgen Klopp’s forwards is on par with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo for the past five seasons.
There is something special between Liverpool and the Champions League knockout ties. These home-and-away matches have become the epitome of everything that worked well under Jürgen Klopp’s reign at Anfield. From spotlights to electric atmospheres, through drama and heightened emotions, from grief to delirium, the German’s time at the club has been rich in twists and turns.
Liverpool’s success relies on the club’s attack and one man in particular, Sadio Mané. Called to play a new role since the arrival of Luis Díaz, Mané seems to have found a new lease of life. Against Benfica on Tuesday night, he once again put in an outstanding performance.
An effortless tap dance was the icing on the cake in a performance that once again brought home his talent. As well as doubling Liverpool’s lead in the game, the goal also had personal significance for Mané, as it was his 13th Champions League goal since the start of the 2017/18 season – that’s the highest in the competition, tied with Ronaldo, and one more than Messi during that time, as well as two more than Mohamed Salah.
Considering that neither Ronaldo nor Messi feature in the competition, Mane has a great opportunity to become the undisputed leader in this stat. Especially if Klopp continues to deploy him in his new central role, where opportunities will arise regularly.
In six appearances in this position this season, Mané has scored five goals for Liverpool, averaging 1.09 contributions per 90. Of those six appearances, Mané has found the net only twice, against Brighton and Chelsea, but he was solid in both games.
It’s no secret that Mané has been losing his explosive speed for about a year, which is hardly surprising given his age. However, his liveliness and quality in front of goal is always there for all to see, and in the middle, Klopp is able to bring all of those qualities to the fore in the Liverpool winger.
If he continues on the same path, we can say that he will smash the records of Ronaldo and Messi in the coming seasons.
For now, it will be interesting to see if he starts against Manchester City this weekend. His early replacement seems to suggest as much, and Liverpool fans will be hoping Mane continues to score.