Move Over Van Dijk And Salah, This Liverpool Player Must Take The Plaudits For Propelling Them Into Title Contention
Liverpool head into the international break two points clear of Manchester City in the race for the Premier League and Reds fans will be hoping that Pep Guardiola's City can fail to capitalise on their game in hand and thus giving Jurgen Klopp's men the advantage once again in their quest for a first Premier League crown.
Four draws in their last eight matches has seen Liverpool fall off the pace a little, but back-to-back wins has galvanised Klopp's men ahead of the final push needed to claim top-flight glory.
Throughout the season Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah have taken all the plaudits for Liverpool's sparkling form, and while the latter of that duo has gone off the boil in recent weeks it's solely the Dutchman van Dijk that has had praise heaped on him with a string of sensational performances.
A sketchy defensive error from the Player of the Year elect van Dijk against Fulham at the weekend nearly saw Liverpool suffer a disappointing draw against the lowly Cottagers, but it was Sadio Mane that won the penalty in the closing stages to give James Milner the chance of slotting the ball home from 12 yards, and the reliable midfielder duly scored the winner.
Now, it's time that glowing adulation of van Dijk is eased a little and the praise is aimed solely at Mane, who has been the one reason that Liverpool remain in with a chance of claiming Premier League glory, and the African sensation can be the player to try and launch them to league success.
Klopp would certainly admit to the fact that Liverpool haven't been in great form over the last couple of months, but during that tough recent period it's been Mane that has helped Liverpool maintain a position in the top-two of the Premier League.
Since January 19th, Sadio Mane has scored nine goals in nine games with goals against Leicester City and West Ham United crucial with Liverpool managing to escape potential banana skins with a point, while he won that all-important penalty at the weekend against Fulham, which helped Liverpool pick up a much-needed three points.
With Salah and Roberto Firmino only managing to score three goals between them in those nine Premier League matches in the last two months then Mane's contribution has been the catalyst for everything positive at Anfield in recent times, and the Senegalese sensation must be catapulted into the category of Liverpool's most crucial player at the moment.
Mane has finished runner-up to teammate Salah in the race to be crowned African Player of the Year in the last two seasons, but it's time the 26-year-old former Southampton attacking star comes out the shadows of his Egyptian forward partner and become the new hero of the Merseyside club.
With only two assists in the Premier League this season, Mane will be eager to contribute a little more for others in the dying embers of the season, but if he can continue his own sensational recent scoring record then he has to finally lauded by football fans for his contributions to a tilt at a first Premier League title for the Reds.
Mane has joined teammate Salah on 17 Premier League goals for the season and the pair are only one strike off Sergio Aguero, who tops the charts on 18, so if Mane can continue his sparkling run of form in front of goal then whose to suggest he can't grab the Golden Boot at the end of the season as well as a potential Premier League winners' medal.
17/18 - 20 goals in 44 apps
18/19 - 20 goals in 38 apps
(No penalties scored in either season)