Liverpool forward Sadio Mane’s imminent departure for Bayern Munich means Jurgen Klopp’s famous original front three will be scrapped.
Between them, Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah have scored a remarkable 374 goals for the Reds.
However, with all three now in their 30s – and all in the final 12 months of their contracts – there was a need to think about succession policy, something that began with the arrival of Diogo Jota in September 2020.
Here, the PA news agency takes a look at why Mane has been allowed to leave and what it means for Liverpool ahead.
Mane scored 23 goals last season, why let him go?
The Senegal international is 30 and, in the final year of his contract, has made it clear he wants to move on. Mane and Strike Partners were all entering the final 12 months of their deals with Salah and Firmino needing to sign up or phase them out. With protracted negotiations continuing with Salah and Firmino – the oldest of the three – likely to fulfill the remainder of his contract, the club could not let the situation drag on without addressing the situation.
But £35.1m for a player who has been so impressive seems cheap…
In fact, Mane could talk to foreign clubs in January and leave for free the following summer. Liverpool have assessed that it is better to cash in now and start the rejuvenation process rather than wait a year and find themselves in a position to look for some forwards who can capitalize on their financial gains from selling the club.
However, Mane was not allowed to leave if the club did not have a replacement line-up and the recent arrival of Darwin Nez, eight years his junior, made up for his loss. Proceeds from the sale of Mane, as well as his substantial salary from the wage bill, make Nez’s potential club-record £85m all the more attractive.
How much risk is Liverpool taking?
Nunez, 22, may be raw and has only one good season behind him, but his six-year contract exudes confidence in the former Benfica striker of Klopp and his coaching staff. The club’s recruitment policy over the past four or five years has been the envy of the world and losing a player of Mane quality will no doubt come at a point when every cycle has to end and you have to build for the future. .
With Salah scoring goals – the Egyptian striker has won the Premier League Golden Boot in three of the last four seasons – showing no signs of slowing down, Luis Diaz’s immediate impact in January and Firmino and Jota’s more- Signing in as a se-enabled back-up. option, this is a reasonably calculated risk. Fulham teenager Fabio Carvalho is another exciting prospect joining this summer.
So how will Liverpool line up next season?
Salah, clearly, will maintain his position on the right, Nunez will be given a run from the middle – although his roles may have been interchangeable with Firmino and Jota as part of his adaptation – while Diaz looks as though he has previously The only left-wing has made its own berth after only four months at the berth club. Klopp rarely deviates from a 4-3-3 formation, but on occasions last season he switched to 4-2-4 as Liverpool chased down games, 4-2-with Firmino behind Nez. 3-1 is now a more realistic option.