This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets…
Sadio Mane received a compliment of the highest order from Cesc Fabregas on Wednesday evening, and the Senegal international proved him right over the course of 90 minutes against Red Bull Salzburg.
Liverpool received one hell of a scare at Anfield, as Salzburg proved their massive win over Genk was no fluke.
The Austrian outfit know how to score goals, but lucky for Liverpool, so do Mane and Mohamed Salah, and the former was lauded on Twitter by former World Cup winner Fabregas.
Mané for me is top 3 players in the world and has been for a while. Top top level.
— Cesc Fàbregas Soler (@cesc4official) October 2, 2019
And while the Spaniard’s praise may seem slightly too high to some, Mane’s performance may just have proved him right.
The 27 year-old’s goalscoring has developed massively in the last couple of seasons, racking up 22 last term on the path to a shared Premier League golden boot with Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
But while his output in front of goal has distracted fans and pundits alike, his overall game has also improved, evidenced by his wonderful showing on Wednesday.
Not only did the winger open the scoring after a fabulous one-two with Roberto Firmino, he probably should have had an assist of his own, racking up three key passes, per Sofascore.
He completed a simply ridiculous six dribbles, terrorising the visitors’ defence every time he received the ball, as well as completing all four of the long balls he attempted.
Of course, Klopp demands more from Mane than just attacking prowess, and he won a whopping 11 out of 18 duels. To put that into perspective, pressing machine Firmino won just four out of 15 duels, while Virgil van Dijk won just six out of ten.
This well-rounded display is no coincidence either – Mane is averaging 2 dribbles, 2 key passes and 1.8 tackles per game in all competitions this season, per WhoScored, while still maintaining his excellent end product.
Maybe that crazy Reds fan who anointed the Senegalese star the best player in the world wasn’t so crazy after all…