Jurgen Klopp has heaped praise on Sadio Mane for his performances this season, ahead of Liverpool’s Champions League quarter-final clash with Benfica on Wednesday night.
The Reds have a 3-1 lead going into the match at Anfield courtesy of goals from Mane, Ibrahima Konate and Luis Diaz, and in his matchday programme notes Klopp singled out the Senegalese forward for his contributions in recent games as well as his entire Liverpool career.
Mane joined Liverpool from Southampton in 2016 and has established himself as one the club’s greatest ever players, having scored 113 goals in 257 games at the time of writing, and helping the club to win the Premier League, Champions League, League Cup and Club World Cup.
He could well have his biggest impact yet this season, with the Reds still in with a shout of claiming an unprecedented quadruple of trophies, thanks in part to Mane scoring the equaliser in Liverpool’s 2-2 draw with rivals Manchester City on Sunday, a result that has kept the title race on a knife edge.
‘Everyone who played for us on the day contributed to an important result, but I did want to pick out Sadio,’ Klopp wrote.
‘It was his 30th birthday on the day of the game and he still looks as fresh and vibrant as when he joined this club as a younger professional.
‘He is a machine. What he has done for this club and continues to do puts him in the bracket of ‘legend’. For LFC and Senegal he is playing to his highest level possible.’
This season in particular has been a special one for Mane, having netted his 100th goal for Liverpool and his 100th Premier League goal early in the campaign as well as winning the Africa Cup of Nations in February, in addition to being named player of the tournament.
Often the more underrated forward in Liverpool’s squad when compared to Mohamed Salah or even Diogo Jota, Mane’s contract at Anfield expires next season, but Klopp believes that the 30-year-old’s best days are still ahead of him.
His manager added: ‘What’s exciting is how he is getting better and stronger. When you see how he looks after himself and his commitment to his profession, turning 30 for him really is only a number.
‘His attitude and character are elite. We are so appreciative of him and I know for sure the levels he reaches at the moment are not the peak – there is even more to come from this very special player.’
Liverpool fans will be hoping Mane continues his current run of form, as in addition to the Benfica game the Reds’ upcoming fixtures include the FA Cup semi-final vs City and important league matches against Manchester United, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur.