In his own words, Sadio Mane labelled last season as the worst of his career but having finally been given the chance to reset he has delivered the words all Reds want to hear.
Since arriving in the summer of 2016, Mane has been Jurgen Klopp‘s fourth-most used player behind only Roberto Firmino, James Milner and Gini Wijnaldum.
Those 218 appearances have been coupled with international action for Senegal throughout the season and into the summer and it has meant he hasn’t had significant time off since 2017.
And you could see the accumulative fatigue took its toll on the No. 10 last season, with Mane a shadow of his electric and lethal former self.
A tally of 16 and nine assists appears a solid contribution from a winger on paper, but there could be no denying his drop off.
A four-week break over the summer looks to have worked wonders, with his appearances in pre-season to date showing a return of the spark we’ve long missed, with his sharpness no doubt soon to follow.
“I think it’s always important as a player to have a break because I can say since I came to Liverpool this was the first time I have had four weeks or more holidays, so I think that sometimes helps a lot,” Mane explained to LiverpoolFC.com.
“I could see from day one that everybody was looking sharp, which for me was unbelievable!
“I am not complaining about having one week or two weeks’ holiday, but I think it’s always extra [helpful] for us to have this long period of holiday.”
It didn’t mean he put his feet up completely, but the mental break was just as important as Mane has long considered tiredness is in one’s mind, and now he’s ready for an “exciting season.”
“At the same time we have been working in individual training [during the summer], which is also important because you could see from day one that everybody was looking sharp and ready to go for the new season.
“To be honest, everybody, and myself for sure, feels more ready. I always say tiredness is here [in the head] and obviously you have to be mentally strong to cope with it, but at the same time I think resting is the best [thing].
“It was not my best season, which I know,” he continued. “Like I always said, it can happen in football but I think it won’t be the same [next] season.
“For sure, I am more ready, mentally, physically, everything, so I think it will be for myself an exciting season.”