Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher fears Sadio Mane may not be able to sustain his level of performance throughout the campaign due to a lack of rest.
The Senegalese international had just two and a half weeks off after the African Cup of Nations with manager Jurgen Klopp opting to play him immediately following his return to the club. Carragher thinks this could cause problems later in the season. He said in his column for the Irish Independent:
“Klopp said after last week’s win over Southampton that no footballer should play more than 50 matches a season, especially in what he called the ‘intense positions’, and he has the resources in midfield to address this concern.”
“His use of Mane, however, already suggests that Liverpool’s squad is not strong enough in the attacking positions. Mane has said that tiredness is only mental and that he has never had a holiday longer than 20 days since joining Red Bull Salzburg in 2012.”
“I hope he is right, but you cannot keep defying your body and my worry is that there will be a drop-off without a rest.”
Managing Mane’s fitness this campaign will be absolutely vital for the Reds. The forward has scored more goals than anyone else in the Premier League this year and is arguably Liverpool’s most important player.
Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi may have to step up to the plate at some point and, while they are good players, the drop off in quality is obvious. How the Merseyside club manage Mane this season could well determine their hopes of winning the Premier League title.