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…
Liverpool hitman Sadio Mane seems to be enjoying his time at the Africa Cup of Nations.
The 5 foot 9 forward has the most goal involvements out of any player left in the tournament, having found the back of the net three times whilst assisting once.
Perhaps his best performance of the tournament without actually grabbing a goal came yesterday evening, where the former Southampton man was in inspired form.
The 27-year-old seemed keen to test Saturnin Allagbe in between the sticks for Benin having had three shots on goal, whilst he was also pivotal in helping set up the game’s only goal – the 2018/19 Premier League Golden Boot winner was awarded the Man of the Match award by WhoScored with a 7.59 rating.
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Mane slid a wonderful through ball into Idrissa Gueye’s path after the Everton man played a quick one-two, before he slotted home confidently to send Senegal through to the semi-finals.
Whilst Liverpool will presumably be proud to see their No.10 make it to the latter stages of AFCON whilst playing a starring role, his success at the tournament will be bittersweet for the European champions.
His continued involvement at AFCON means that Mane will be returning late to the club’s pre-season schedule – he would already have been granted an extended holiday due to his participation, but the longer he is involved the smaller his pre-season becomes.
It is certainly a possibility that Mane will miss the start of the Premier League season. If Senegal progress to the final, which is certainly feasible given the talent they have in their ranks, then Mane will be playing until July 19.
Jurgen Klopp insists on his players having three weeks of holiday, which means that Mane will not make the Community Shield against Chelsea on August 4, nor will he be around for the first league game against Norwich five days later.
The Reds will surely be proud of their 26-goal forward for making it this far at AFCON, but his continued involvement will leave a bittersweet feeling in the Merseysiders’ mouth.