Reports: Real Madrid to fight Barcelona for €110 million Premier League forward
What's the story?
The transfer window might have just 'slammed shut' but the transfer rumour mills are still going on in overdrive, and this one's the latest to emerge from the UK press.
After having successfully spent the whole of last summer fighting the might of FC Barcelona in order to retain the services of Philippe Coutinho - Liverpool may have to do it all over again next summer... but this time the battle won't be for the Brazilian.
If the news being reported by the good folk over at the Mirror is to be believed, Barcelona have shifted their focus to the man many consider the most important cog in Liverpool's exciting attacking machine - Sadio Mane. The Senegalese striker, rated in excess of €110 million by his parent club, is one of the most in-form forwards in Europe at the moment and his combination of pace, power, and skill has been the foundation upon which Liverpool have built their attacking unit.
But, there's another twist in the tale. While Barcelona's approach for Coutinho was direct - no one else was involved - this time the Catalan's have company... with the reports suggesting that Real Madrid are interested too!
In case you didn't know
Sadio Mane is currently serving a three-match ban in the league for kung-fu kicking Ederson's jaw back to Brazil - completely unintentionally, I hasten to add - while challenging for an aerial 50-50 in Liverpool's game against City. The manner of the Merseysiders collapse post that challenge gave startlingly immediate proof of just how vital the Senegalese striker is to the team.
The heart of the matter
With Real Madrid and Barcelona both in the middle of different phases of team re-building (Madrid look to phase out Bale and reduce their dependence on Ronaldo; Barca trying to rebuild a unit after Neymar's departure), this summer could see a whole host of such battles for transfer targets between the two rivals.
In recent years, Madrid have gotten the upper hand more often than not (see the cases of Marco Asensio, Theo Hernandez, and Dani Ceballos to name but three) and it will be interesting to see how far the Castillians are willing to push Barcelona - and Liverpool - to bag their man.
Here's Mane at his fiery best:
Boy, he can play, can't he?
There is no reason why Liverpool should be any less obstinate about Mane than they were about Coutinho - after all, the Senegalese forward has proven time and again that he's arguably the more important of the two.
Whil both Real Madrid and Barcelona would welcome a player of Mane's calibre - if there is any truth in their interest for him, they will not have it as easy as they have been having it for the past decade or so.