Wednesday 13 December 2017

Sadio Mane bullish ahead of derby, insists 'we are going to beat' Jose Mourinho's men

Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring for Liverpool
Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring for Liverpool

Samuel Stevens

Sadio Mane is convinced Liverpool will triumph against rivals Manchester United at Anfield tonight, insisting: “Of course, we all believe it. We are going to make it.”

The 24-year-old joined the Reds for £30m from Southampton this summer and has proved to be a hit on Merseyside with a number of crucial goals but he admits tonight’s North West match-up is likely to be the biggest of his career to date.

Mane is expected to be in Jurgen Klopp’s starting line-up tonight as Liverpool look to go level on points with early joint-leaders Manchester City and Arsenal in the Premier League table. United, meanwhile, currently sit six points adrift of the summit.

“We are going to beat Manchester United,” he told the Daily Telegraph. “Of course. We all believe it. We are going to make it. Maybe this will be the biggest game I have played in. My games for Senegal will have been the biggest so far.

“For my club, I think my biggest was my debut for Southampton against Arsenal. We won and I scored. I was under big pressure so for me that was amazing. Now this will be one of the most important. Everyone would like to score in a game like this.

“It’s normal the fans and people will think this is a particular type of game. We know it’s one of the big games of the season. It might be like El Clásico but, really, when the game starts and you get on to the pitch, then you do have to treat it more like a normal game."

Reports have suggested United failed with a £25m bid to lure Mane away from St Mary’s this summer before he eventually elected to join Klopp at Anfield.

He added: “In honesty, there were some clubs interested at that time but I never made any choices then,” he says. “I did not say I thought of any club and I wanted to play there. That kind of interest gave me a lot confidence on the pitch and made me believe in myself, but I knew this was because of my hard work and I was in a good way.

“Ronald Koeman was not happy with all the rumours because he wanted me to stay, but it was not too complicated because for me, also, it was not time to go. When I spoke to him I told him, ‘No problem, I will stay’. It was my decision. I wanted to stay at Southampton.

“I was patient because I remember after the first year [in England] I knew it was better to focus on Southampton. In my head I thought I would be there a couple more years and prove something. I was convinced I still had to prove something, improve more and learn more before I moved to a bigger club. But then I knew when the right time was for me. The extra year helped me get better, and it is important for every player to go step by step.

“It was only when Liverpool came in [last summer] that I never had a second thought and knew I wanted to join. It was different because then was the right moment for me. I finally came to Liverpool and I was happy with that, and now I’m happy I am playing against Manchester United.”

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