Jamie Carragher said Sadio Mane “would have me to deal with” amid reports linking the Liverpool winger with Bayern Munich, after the Senegalese kept his side in the Premier League title race with a winner at Aston Villa.
Just a day after Sky Germany revealed Bayern’s interest in Liverpool’s No 10, Mane produced a brilliant header to complete a vital turnaround for Liverpool in a 2-1 win at Villa Park on Tuesday night.
The 30-year-old showed great athleticism to head home Luis Diaz’s cross in the second half – after Joel Matip had cancelled out Douglas Luiz’s early opener in a frantic start to the game – with Jurgen Klopp’s side now level on points with Manchester City at the top of the table.
Carragher not only described Mane as his “favourite player” among the Liverpool squad – but even claimed the 30-year-old is just as important as 30-goal star Mohamed Salah to the Reds’ fortunes, with the Egyptian winger just a substitute on Tuesday night.
“When I have watched Liverpool as a fan, Sadio Mane is my favourite player,” Carragher told Sky Sports. “There is just something about Mane. He’s sacrificed himself at times and the shift he puts in.
“He, along with Salah, has been doing that for five years – they are never injured! They are there week in, week out for 90 minutes, getting the numbers up there every week. What they have done for this football club is unbelievable.
“I’m a huge fan of Sadio Mane and I can assure you he will be going nowhere because I will not let him go to Bayern Munich, he’d have me to deal with!
“I love him, absolutely love him to bits. And not just because he’s a great player and what he’s done for Liverpool.
“He initially came in on the right wing then moved to the left when Salah arrived. Diaz comes in on the left and Mane goes to centre-forward.
“He’s always moving for someone else but his performances never drop. It doesn’t seem to matter where Mane plays, you get exactly the same from him, the same cannot be said for the rest of the Liverpool attack.”
Klopp: Mane’s a machine
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp described his matchwinner as “world-class” and “a machine”.
The winner at Villa was Mane’s 22nd goal of the season in all competitions – his 15th in the Premier League. The Senegalese international has now overtaken Jota as Liverpool’s second-highest goalscorer of the season, behind Salah.
“He’s a machine, I told him after the game,” Klopp told Sky Sports. “[He’s a] massive player, his physicality is brutal. The mix of technique, desire and physicality.
“You can see [he has] a few yards in the legs, we can see it to be honest. He’s a fantastic, world-class player.
“His performance was incredible,” captain Jordan Henderson added. “The work he does of the ball for the team was incredible, defending at the end. But his quality in and around the box – it’s the gym isn’t it with that neck muscles!”
Mane: I’m happy at Liverpool
Mane did not speak specifically about his own personal future, but did reveal he was happy at the club – especially when the team he currently plays for continues to lift trophies.
Mane, who has won five major honours since arriving at the club from Southampton in 2016, has just one year left on his contract after this season – but could end the current campaign with three more trophies to his name.
“When we win the trophies, I was happier,” Mane told Sky Sports. “I’m just trying to enjoy every moment and try to score and assist for my team-mates.
“It’s for the team or nothing, the boys make it very easy for me. I’m very happy.”
Speaking about his goal against Villa, Mane added: “It was a good cross from Diaz and I was in the box so I just had to put it in the net. Even without power, I usually score and that’s what I tried to do.
“I know him very well, he’s a good player. We train every day and when he gets the ball, honestly I knew he was going to cross.”
May 14 – Chelsea (Wembley) FA Cup final
May 17 – Southampton (a) Premier League, live on Sky Sports
May 22 – Wolves (h) Premier League
May 28 – Real Madrid (n) Champions League final