Sadio Mané has described this season as the “worst” of his career and admits he was so concerned about his form at one stage that he underwent medical tests to check there was nothing physically wrong with him.
The Senegal striker has scored 13 goals for Liverpool this season, with only nine of those coming in the Premier League. The one he scored against Southampton at the weekend was also only his third league goal at Anfield.
Mané scored 10 times in his first season in English football, with Southampton in 2014-15, and then against in his first season with Liverpool, in 2016-17, but on both occasions he made fewer appearances than he has this campaign, and in general he has been incredibly poor for the champions, certainly in comparison to last season when the 29-year-old scored 22 times in all competitions and was consistently outstanding for Jürgen Klopp’s side.
“This is the worst season of my career. I have to admit it,” Mané told the French television channel Canal+. “If you ask me what is wrong I will struggle to give you an answer. Personally I don’t know. I have always tried to be positive, whether things are going well or badly. I question myself all the time. I even underwent a test to take a look at my body. Am I eating the right foods, or has everything changed? But they checked the test results, and everything is fine.
“I need to understand that in life there are ups and downs. I will keep on working hard – and perhaps in time this situation will pass.”
In contrast, Mané’s teammate Mohamed Salah has maintained his consistency. The Egypt forward has 20 Premier League goals and is on course for his second-best goalscoring campaign, behind his record-breaking 32 in 36 matches during his first season at Liverpool – 2017-18.
Salah, who has 29 goals in all competitions, is poised to make his 200th appearance for Liverpool against Manchester United on Thursday.
Liverpool’s assistant manager, Pep Lijnders, said: “For me, bigger than the achievement of all these decisive goals so far is his everyday presence in our club: his character is special, a true example. This club has the capability to turn good players into legends and he is one more of them.”