The horrors of last summer’s expensive shopping spree at Southampton seem to have left no scars on the Liverpool transfer committee, who are reportedly ready to return to St Mary’s to address another of their problem areas.
Despite handing over around £50m for largely ineffective trio Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert and Dejan Lovren, Brendan Rodgers reckons Saints right-back Nathaniel Clyne is the best bet to replace Glen Johnson.
Given the recently-anointed England international’s contract situation – he has a year left – the Reds shouldn’t have to fork out the eye-watering sums they’re seemingly obliged to pay when it comes to purchasing Southampton stars, but the south coast club are still holding out for an eight-figure offer from the Anfield outfit.
If Liverpool are going to go and issue the Saints with such a hefty cash injection, buying their right-back isn’t advisable when the potential sellers stock exactly the kind of player made for the interchangeable, fast-footed front three that brought the Merseysiders so much success in 2013/14.
Sadio Mane is the man in question, whose pace and eye for goal would make him an excellent foil for Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling at the head of the Reds’ attack.
The £10m acquisition from Red Bull Salzburg savoured an excellent first season in the Premier League, scoring 11 goals in 24 starts, three of which saw him break the top tier’s long-standing fastest hat-trick record.
His versatility is another factor that renders him the ideal Rodgers (the mad scientist forever experimenting on formations and strategies) acquisition; Ronald Koeman used the Senegalese in six positions in the final third last term.
His dribbling proficiency is highlighted through the 59 successful dribbles he managed from 110 attempted.
This completion rate of 53.6% comprehensively bests the 44.4% of Liverpool’s most frequent ball carrier Sterling.
Philippe Coutinho was the only other member of the current crop to beat more men than Mane, though neither of Reds pair can measure up when it comes to goal involvement.
An integral figure in Southampton’s attack, the 23-year-old was involved in 50% of the team’s goals in some capacity when he was on the pitch; Sterling registered 30.4% with Coutinho way back on 23.3%.
After signing Danny Ings from Burnley, another energetic forward who provides a potent goal threat, it would seem Rodgers is intent on recapturing the final third incisiveness that yielded so much joy two terms ago and adding Mane would complete the transition.