Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has hinted that out of form forward Sadio Mane could be left out of the starting lineup that faces Aston Villa at Anfield on Saturday afternoon, suggesting that the Senegal international needs a mental ‘break’ after a relentless few years.
Despite assists in his last two Premier League games, Mane has only scored seven goals in the league so far and only once in his last 13 appearances in the competition. He did score home and away against Leipzig in the Champions League, but his form has become a major talking point.
As Liverpool prepare to host Villa, who won 7-2 in the reverse fixture back in October, the expected return of Roberto Firmino from the start after coming off the bench against Real Madrid in midweek and the presence of Diogo Jota gives Klopp the chance to pull Mane from the spotlight.
“We all know how good Sadio Mane is, what a player he is and what he did for us,” Klopp is quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
“But obviously the numbers scoring-wise are not great at the moment and he knows that. For a player with the mind-set of Sadio, he wants to do extremely well. But this is the situation he is in,
“There is no physical problem for Sadio, not a real one - we all need breaks from time to time, that is clear - but it's not a general problem. It's just the situation. If you don't score for a while, then strikers start thinking. There is a moment when you start thinking exactly the right things again and then it will be fine again. We have to make sure this time is not too far away.”
Liverpool go into the Villa game having only scored once at Anfield in the Premier League this calendar year and failing to win at home in the league since victory over Spurs on 16 December.