Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher claims Sadio Mane’s fitness could decide title race

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This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…

Writing in his column for The Daily Telegraph, Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher has voiced his concerns about the effect Sadio Mane’s possible fatigue could have on the Reds’ Premier League title challenge.

What did he say?

The Senegal international made it to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations with his country, but returned to training earlier than expected and has featured in all three of Liverpool’s opening games.

However, Carragher has now admitted he is worried Mane could suffer from burnout, and wondered just how much danger that could put the side’s title chances in.

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He wrote: “Mane has become so important that Klopp is understandably reluctant to leave him out and let him have a proper rest. He has played in 53 club games since the start of the 2018-19 season. Of all the forwards throughout the entire Premier League, only Salah has played more than his 4,515 minutes.

“His (Klopp) use of Mane, unfortunately already suggests that Liverpool’s squad is not strong enough in the attacking positions. Mane himself has said that tiredness is only mental and that he has never had a holiday that lasts longer than 20 days since joining Red Bull Salzburg in 2012.

“I truly hope he is right but you cannot keep defying your body and my big worry is that there will be a drop off without a carefully scheduled rest. How Liverpool absorb either scenario could very well decide whether another Premier League challenge can be sustained.”

A bitter blow

Even a half-fit Sadio Mane would probably make Klopp’s starting eleven. The Senegalese star is a bundle of energy, and offers so much pace and trickery from out wide that there is such a significant drop-off in quality to the players who come in for him.

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The Reds are undoubtedly in an incredibly difficult position. Manchester City have already shown in recent seasons how relentless they are, and any slip-up will be taken advantage of. If Klopp decides he needs to rest Mane, then he is hurting his team’s chances of picking up three points. Continue to play him however, and he risks exposing the winger to an injury that could rule him out for a significant period of time.

Depending on how the Champions League group stages pan out, the Liverpool boss’ best bet may be to rest the 27-year-old in those games. After all, it’s now the Premier League that the Merseyside club are hunting down.

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