Tuesday 15 October 2019

'World-class Mané will get even better'

Jurgen Klopp has hailed Sadio Mané as ‘world-class’ ahead of today’s Merseyside derby. Photo: Reuters
Jurgen Klopp has hailed Sadio Mané as ‘world-class’ ahead of today’s Merseyside derby. Photo: Reuters

John Ashdown

Jürgen Klopp says Sadio Mané has begun to realise that he is a "world-class player" and that the confidence that brings can help the Senegalese forward become even better.

Mané has scored 14 league goals this season, with six in his last six Premier League starts, including two in the 5-0 midweek win over Watford, his best return since his 16-goal 2013-14 season with Red Bull Salzburg.

And with more than two months of the season still remaining, Liverpool's manager feels he can get even better, starting with today's Merseyside derby.

"He's not having to convince people now. We all know that he's a world-class player, and he has started realising that for himself," said Klopp.

"Mix it up with his attitude and his work-rate, it can be a really decent career - even better than it was to now. He's in a good moment of his career, and he's in the best age group now, which they all are."

Liverpool head into the derby on a record unbeaten streak in the fixture of 16 games, a run that stretches back to Everton's extra-time win in the FA Cup in February 2009. For Everton's last win inside 90 minutes you have to go back even further, all the way to September 2006 when Tim Cahill and Andrew Johnson, twice, were the scorers in a 3-0 win at Goodison.

Liverpool remain in pole position in a two-horse title race and have every chance of reaching the last eight of the Champions League, while Marco Silva's side are searching for the positives after a season of underachievement. Nevertheless, a cagey affair can be expected this afternoon: the last four derbies at Goodison have seen only three goals scored.

While spirits in the Liverpool camp are high, the 3-0 win over Cardiff was a fillip for Everton after a rocky run of results.

"I'm excited," said striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who netted in midweek but is yet to be on the winning side of a Merseyside derby. "Everybody wants to play in that game and I'm no different. The main focus is to win and that is how we have been preparing. We've got the belief.

"The Cardiff game was about making sure we got an important three points, and also building momentum going into this match. We did that, and we'll take confidence from it."

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