Sadio Mane: Where will he fit in at Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool?
Liverpool are taking huge steps to rebuild their squad under Jurgen Klopp and Southampton's Sadio Mane is the club's third signing of the summer after Joel Matip and Loris Karius. The Senegalese international is the fifth Saints' player to sign for Liverpool since June 2014, following in the footsteps of Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Rickie Lambert and Nathaniel Clyne.
Interestingly, Lovren, Clyne and Mane scored at Anfield the season before they signed for Liverpool.
Playing style and technique
One of Sadio Mane's key strengths is his versatility. The 24-year old has played down the left wing, down the right wing and even through the middle when the need has arisen. This makes him a good fit for a manager like Klopp who likes his players to interchange positions during the game to make it difficult for the opposition to man-mark players out of the game.
Mane is a very good dribbler and likes to take on defenders and beat them in one on one situations. He also has an eye for goal and was Southampton's top scorer last season with 15 goals to his name with 11 of them coming in the league. In addition, his pace and tenacity will suit Klopp's high pressing and counter-attacking game.
Probable position at Liverpool
Jurgen Klopp has admitted that Brendan Rodgers left him a very good squad to work with but it was clear as daylight that Liverpool didn't have quality wingers in their team. Jordon Ibe was the only recognised winger in the side last season as Lazar Markovic was loaned out and Raheem Sterling was sold to Manchester City.
Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Adam Lallana are all capable of playing down the wing and although these players have strengths of their own, their lack of pace and inability to beat fullbacks at will often leaves the team without enough width.
Mane is likely to play on the right wing for Liverpool where he will play alongside former Southampton teammate Nathaniel Clyne. This is because Coutinho can do better down the left wing than the right as he can cut in and shoot with his stronger right foot from distance.
With someone like Mane in the side who can take on defenders, the Reds can now stretch the opposition defence and create more space in the middle for other players to exploit. This will also stop teams from sitting deep and defending narrowly against Liverpool to an extent.
Competition for places at Liverpool
Jurgen Klopp is not the type of manager who splashes a lot of cash on a player and Mane is Klopp's most expensive signing ever. This indicates that Klopp desperately wanted a pacey winger who can walk into the starting XI.
The arrival of Mane could alter the playing positions and squad role of many players. James Milner could drop to the bench or could be given a midfield role. If Milner is to operate in central midfield then captain Jordan Henderson is likely to lose his place in the team than Emre Can.
Similarly, Adam Lallana may have to fight for a place in the starting XI as Coutinho and Firmino are likely to start ahead of the Englishman. One other deduction that can be made from Mane's signing is that the future of Markovic and Ibe lies elsewhere.
How does he compare to some of the best in the league?
Mane has been an outstanding performer for Southampton, but considering the fee Liverpool paid for his services, he needs to be compared with the likes of Riyad Mahrez, Alexis Sanchez, Eden Hazard and Liverpool's own Philippe Coutinho.
From the above comparison matrix created using Squawka, it is clear that Mane is far behind the other players in terms of creating chances. He is better than Coutinho at completing take ons, but is nowhere near the likes of Sanchez, Hazard and Mahrez at their best. However, when it comes to defensive contribution, which is very important to Klopp, Mane is almost as good as Sanchez and much better than Coutinho.
There will be certain aspects of Mane's game that Klopp would want him to work on, but overall he looks like a great addition to the Liverpool squad.
Is he the right man?
There will be many questions raised about the fee Liverpool paid for Sadio Mane, but if he can hit the ground running then those questions will be quelled in no time.
Klopp is one of the best in the business when it comes to judging talents and nurturing them. Examples like Lewandowski, Reus, Hummels, Gundogan, Gotze, Sahin and Kagawa are there for everyone to see.
The best thing about Mane is that he is already familiar with the Premier League and if he gets accustomed to Klopp's style of play, then he could prove to be a very smart acquisition for Liverpool. Mane will be available for the entire pre-season and has plenty of time on his hands to blend into his new surroundings.