With Sadio Mane wanting to leave Liverpool this summer, the club is on the lookout for a replacement. And there are a slew of intriguing options from across Europe.
A Busy Summer as the Reds look to sign a replacement for Mane
The Reds have not yet officially authorized Mane’s departure, but all indications show that he will leave Anfield before the start of next season.
Bayern Munich are the favourites to sign him. Albeit there are two stumbling blocks in the negotiations: Liverpool wants a large fee and to find a replacement before he leaves.
Even if Mane’s contract expires in a year, the club should be in a great position to negotiate, but finding a suitable successor may be more difficult.
Mo Salah’s contract situation, bulking up a roster already devoid of Divock Origi and strengthening in important areas. It might be a busy summer for the reds
There are several approaches to take, mostly in terms of the role any replacement would occupy. As Mane has moved from right-wing to left-wing to center-forward throughout his time on Merseyside.
So, who could Liverpool bring in to take the position of the Senegalese captain?
1. Ismaila Sarr
Positions: RW, LW, CF
Watford winger Ismaila Sarr was one of the main possibilities when Liverpool set up a shortlist to bolster the long-standing front three of Mane, Salah, and Roberto Firmino.
The Reds decided on a reasonable deal with Wolves for Diogo Jota instead of a move for Sarr at an inconvenient time during the pandemic.
However, now that Watford has been relegated to the Championship. And the Hertfordshire club may be more willing to part ways with a tall, strong, versatile forward who has only two years left on his contract.
But Sarr has been inconsistent in play and fitness in the Premier League this season. With only five goals and two assists in 22 appearances, should be a red sign. But he certainly has promise that can be developed.
2. Pedro Neto
Positions: LW, RW, CF
Wolves attacker Neto is another player with Premier League experience and youth on his side. But he is a player with potential that may be termed untapped.
After turning 22 in March, he has already made 92 appearances for Wolves. But has missed the majority of this season due to a knee injury sustained at the end of the previous season. With his solitary goal coming on the final day of the Premier League against Anfield.
If fitness concerns can be addressed, Neto may function as a hungry, creative, dribble-happy left-winger. He could complement Jota by cutting inside whenever feasible.
3. Jonathan David
Positions: CF, AM
David has flourished at Lille since the Reds first expressed interest in him while he was still at KAA Gent in Belgium.
The clever, fast kid, was born in New York but is a Canadian national. He is most comfortable in a midfield role, with minimal experience starting on either flank.
As a result, he is more of a finisher than an all-rounder. As indicated by his 32 goals but just five assists in 96 games for Lille. And a slightly better 37 goals, 15 assists in 83 games for Gent.
However, people within Liverpool’s sophisticated recruitment apparatus clearly see the opportunity to expand on this.
4. Arnaut Danjuma
Positions: LW, CF, RW
If you believe Danjuma himself Liverpool have been “closely following” the Villarreal forward ahead of the summer.
This isn’t the first time the Reds have been linked with the 25-year-old. With claims dating back to when he was with Bournemouth.
Danjuma’s potential has burst since he was replaced by El Madrigal. With him scoring 16 goals and four assists in 34 games in LaLiga and the Champions League this season.
He also split his time between left and right-wing. Indicating that he may fill the vacuum left by Mane, albeit a rumoured £62.6 million release clause may be too high.
5. Martin Terrier
Positions: LW, CF
Rennes striker Terrier is a lower-profile option who has thrived both out wide and in the centre this season. Terrier has scored 21 goals in 37 appearances this season in Ligue 1. He is trailing only Kylian Mbappe and Wissam Ben Yedder in goal scoring, but his impact extends beyond the scoresheet.
Rennes’ No. 7 is the team’s focal point. He is producing substantially in every phase of the final third while also pushing hard off the ball.
Terrier’s contract at Roazhon Park is up in three years, but he could be a more economical choice than others.
6. Darwin Nunez
Positions: CF, LW
Benfica striker Nunez is almost destined to leave the Estadio da Luz this summer following a remarkable season. He is one of the most expensive prospects linked with a move to Liverpool.
Nunez has emerged as the shining light of Benfica’s attack over the past two seasons. He is surpassing the likes of Erling Haaland as one of Europe’s most wanted center-forwards.
He demonstrated this in two Champions League appearances against Liverpool. And the Reds have been credited with showing interest in a man Klopp has described as having “a tremendous career ahead of him.”
Nunez’s suitability for Liverpool’s possession-based style of play is unknown, and a £100 million price tag could rule out a move to Anfield.
7. Jarrod Bowen
Positions: RW, CF
This is a critical summer for West Ham. And it might go one of two ways: they keep their core players and continue to improve. Or they are ripped apart after a historic season.
If the latter occurs, Liverpool will likely act on their long-held interest in Bowen, who appears to be tailor-made for Klopp’s system.
He has been one of the Premier League’s top performers this season. With being lightning fast, ball-hungry, durable, and able to score and assist in equal measure. With 12 of each in 36 league games this season.
The main difficulty, of course, is that Bowen is most effective on the right-wing, making him a better Salah replacement.
8. Jeremy Doku
Positions: RW, LW
Liverpool rolled the red carpet out for the bullish young Belgian back in 2018. When he was seeking a move away from Anderlecht.
Moreover, Klopp even sees the potential in him to succeed Mane.
But, after turning down a move at the time, he turned down another offer in 2020. Believing he was not yet ready to make the step up to a “top club,”. He believed in opting instead for Rennes, where he has made steady development and won 10 caps for Belgium.
Injuries have hampered Doku’s season so far. And it’s fair to say he hasn’t fully realized his immense potential. But if he does join Liverpool, it will be as a long-term possibility rather than a man capable of quickly filling Mane’s shoes.
9. Christopher Nkunku
Positions: CF, AM, LW, RW, CM
Mane’s versatility – and consistency across a wide range of positions – has been a crucial feature of his Liverpool career. For Leipzig’s Nkunku, it may be even more prominent.
Nkunku was signed from Paris Saint-Germain in 2019 with the expectation of bigger things. And during his time in the Bundesliga, he has evolved into one of Europe’s most intriguing attackers.
Despite playing 4,182 minutes of football, his quick feet, ingenuity, and eye for goal helped him score 35 goals and 20 assists in 51 games for Leipzig this season He is averaging a goal or assist every 76 minutes.
10. Robert Lewandowski
It would be odd not to, wouldn’t it? Mane wants to join Bayern, but Lewandowski wants to go. Couldn’t the two sides come to an agreement?
Sure, the 33-year-old Pole does not fit the mould of a modern Liverpool acquisition. But he is a one-of-a-kind player who has the potential to continue to flourish for another two or three years.
He has scored at least 40 goals for Bayern in each of the last seven seasons. And 50 or more in two of the last three, demonstrating remarkable progress from his world-class status at Dortmund under Klopp.
Though it may necessitate a system change. Reds reconnecting Klopp with the player he thinks to be the finest he has ever coached may be well worth the effort.