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10 possible Sadio Mane replacements for Liverpool

With Sadio Mane pushing to leave Liverpool this summer, the club are seeking a replacement, with a number of hugely interesting candidates across Europe.

Though the Reds are yet to sanction Mane’s exit, all signs point to the No. 10 departing Anfield before the start of next season.

Bayern Munich are positioned as favourites for his signature, though there are two sticking points when it comes to negotiations: Liverpool want a sizeable fee and to secure a replacement before he goes.

The club should be in a strong position when it comes to negotiating, even though Mane only has a year left on his contract, but it may be tougher finding a suitable successor.

Along with Mo Salah‘s contract, bulking out a squad already shorn of Divock Origi and strengthening in key areas, it could be a busy first summer for new sporting director Julian Ward.

There are a number of ways to go about it, largely when it comes to the position any replacement would fill, with Mane having shifted from right wing to left wing to centre-forward during his time on Merseyside.

So who could Liverpool bring in to replace the Senegal captain?

 

Ismaila Sarr (Watford)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, April 2, 2022: Watford's Ismaïla Sarr looks dejected after missing a chance during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Watford FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 24
Nationality: Senegal
Positions: RW, LW, CF


When Liverpool drew up a shortlist to bolster the long-standing front three of Mane, Salah and Roberto Firmino, Watford winger Ismaila Sarr was among the primary candidates.

Priced out a move for Sarr at an awkward time during the pandemic, the Reds instead opted for a manageable deal with Wolves for Diogo Jota.

But with Watford having now been relegated to the Championship, there is a likelihood that the Hertfordshire club will be more open to parting ways for a tall, strong, versatile forward with only two years remaining on his deal.

That Sarr has struggled for consistency in form and fitness in the Premier League, with only five goals and two assists in 22 games this season, could be a red flag – though he clearly has potential that could be nurtured.

 

Pedro Neto (Wolves)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, December 29, 2019: Wolverhampton Wanderers' Pedro Neto during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wolverhampton Wanderers FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 22
Nationality: Portugal
Positions: LW, RW, CF


Another player with Premier League experience and youth on his side, but with potential that could be considered untapped, is Wolves forward Neto.

He has already made 92 appearances for Wolves having turned 22 in March, but missed the majority of this season due to a knee injury suffered at the end of the previous campaign, with his only goal coming on the final day of the Premier League at Anfield.

If fitness concerns can be allayed, though, Neto would serve as a hungry, creative, dribble-happy left winger who, looking to cut inside whenever possible, could alternate well with Jota.

Having come through the youth ranks at SC Braga, Klopp’s assistants Pepijn Lijnders and Vitor Matos are likely to be familiar with his talents and able to acquire character references, following the likes of Jota and Luis Diaz.

 

Jonathan David (Lille)

2EM6GBM LILLE, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 18: Jonathan David of LOSC Lille during the UEFA Europa League match between Lille OSC and Ajax at Stade Pierre Mauroy on Feb

Age: 22
Nationality: Canada
Positions: CF, AM


The third name on Liverpool’s pre-Jota shortlist, David has gone on to thrive at Lille since initial interest from the Reds when he was still at KAA Gent in Belgium.

Born in New York but a Canadian national, the intelligent, speedy youngster is most comfortable in a central role, with little experience of starting on either flank.

As a result, he is less of an all-rounder and more of a finisher, as evidenced by his record of 32 goals but only five assists in 96 games for Lille, and a slightly better 37 goals, 15 assists in 83 outings for Gent.

But it is clear that those within Liverpool’s refined recruitment setup see the potential to expand on this, and this proven ability could be honed – with suggestions he is looking to move this summer and available for around £45 million.

 

Arnaut Danjuma (Villarreal)

2GKKACJ Valencia, Spain. 14th Sep, 2021. Arnaut Danjuma of Villarreal seen in action during the UEFA Champions League group F match between Villarreal CF and Atalanta at Estadio de la Ceramica in Villarreal. (Credit Image: © Xisco Navarro/SOPA Images via ZUMA Press Wire)

Age: 25
Nationality: Netherlands
Positions: LW, CF, RW


If you believe Danjuma himself, as he told Dutch outlet Ziggo Sport this month, Liverpool have been “closely following” the Villarreal forward ahead of the summer.

This is not the first time the Reds have been credited with an interest in the 25-year-old, either, with reports dating back to his time with Bournemouth.

But since swapping Dean Court for El Madrigal, Danjuma’s potential has exploded: with 16 goals and four assists in 34 games across LaLiga and the Champions League this season.

He split his time between duties on the left and up front, too, which suggests he could certainly fill the void left by Mane, though a reported £62.6 million release clause may prove too steep.

 

Martin Terrier (Rennes)

LONDON, ENGLAND - Wednesday, November 4, 2020: Chelsea's Reece James (L) and Rennes' Martin Terrier during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between Chelsea FC and Rennes FC at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea won 3-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 25
Nationality: France
Positions: LW, CF


A lower-profile option who has similarly shone both out wide and in a central role this season is Rennes forward Terrier, who has come to life since leaving Lyon in 2020.

This term, Terrier struck 21 times in 37 games in Ligue 1, finishing behind only Kylian Mbappe and Wissam Ben Yedder in the goalscoring charts, but his influence goes beyond finding the back of the net.

Rennes’ No. 7 is the focal point of their attack, contributing heavily in every phase in the final third, while also pressing relentlessly off the ball.

Terrier still has three years left on his contract at Roazhon Park, but he could present a more affordable option than others.

 

Darwin Nunez (Benfica)

LISBON, PORTUGAL - Tuesday, April 5, 2022: Benfica's Darwin Nunez during the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 1st Leg game between SL Benfica and Liverpool FC at the Estádio da Luz. Liverpool won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 22
Nationality: Uruguay
Positions: CF, LW


One of the most pricey candidates touted with a move to Liverpool is Benfica striker Nunez, who is almost certain to depart the Estadio da Luz this summer after a standout campaign.

Nunez is, beyond the likes of Erling Haaland, one of the most coveted centre-forwards in Europe, having emerged as the shining light of Benfica’s attack over the past two seasons.

He proved that over two outings against Liverpool in the Champions League, and the Reds have been credited with an interest in a player who Klopp has described as having “a big career ahead of him.”

Whether Nunez would suit the Reds’ possession-heavy style of play is unclear, however, while a possible £100 million price tag could rule a move to Anfield out entirely.

 

Jarrod Bowen (West Ham)

2HFFAH4 London, UK. 16th Jan, 2022. Jarrod Bowen of West Ham United celebrates after scoring his sides first goal. Premier League match, West Ham Utd v Leeds United at the London Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London on Sunday 16th January 2022. this image may only be used for Editorial purposes. Editorial use only, license required for commercial use. No use in betting, games or a single club/league/player publications. pic by Lewis Mitchell/Andrew Orchard sports photography/Alamy Live news Credit: Andrew Orchard sports photography/Alamy Live News

Age: 25
Nationality: England
Positions: RW, CF


This stands to be a pivotal summer for West Ham, and it could go one of two ways: they manage to hold on to their key players and build, or they get picked apart after a landmark campaign.

If the latter unfolds, it would be no surprise to see Liverpool act on their long-standing interest in Bowen, who seems tailor-made for Klopp’s system.

Lightning fast, ball-hungry, durable and able to both score and assist in equal measure – with 12 of each in 36 league games this season – he has been one of the Premier League‘s leading performers.

The only concern, of course, would be that Bowen is most adept on the right flank, and therefore more suitable as a Salah replacement – but if he can be brought in, it would surely be too good to pass up.

 

Jeremy Doku (Rennes)

2F68684 Belgium's Jeremy Doku reacts during a qualification game for the World Cup 2022 in the group E between the Belgian national team Red Devils and Belaru

Age: 20
Nationality: Belgium
Positions: RW, LW


When a 16-year-old Doku was weighing up a move away from Anderlecht in 2018, Liverpool rolled the red carpet out for the bullish young Belgian.

Steven Gerrard, Gini Wijnaldum, compatriot Simon Mignolet and Mane himself all met the teenager at Melwood, while his father claims Klopp told them he “saw a potential successor to Sadio Mane in Jeremy.”

But having turned down a move at the time, he then rejected another approach in 2020, as he believed he was not ready to make the jump to a “top club” – instead opting for Rennes, where he has made steady progress and earned 10 caps with Belgium.

Injuries have blighted his season just gone, though, and it is fair to say Doku has not yet realised his vast potential – if he were to finally make the jump to Liverpool, it would be as a future prospect, rather than a player capable of filling Mane’s shoes immediately.

 

Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, September 17, 2018: Paris Saint-Germain's Christopher Nkunku during a training session ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group C match between Liverpool FC and Paris Saint-Germain at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Age: 24
Nationality: France
Positions: CF, AM, LW, RW, CM


Versatility – and a consistency across that variety of positions – has been one of Mane’s key traits throughout his time at Liverpool; for Leipzig’s Nkunku, that could be even more so.

Signed from Paris Saint-Germain in 2019, Nkunku always seemed primed for bigger things, and he has developed into one of the most exciting forwards in Europe during his time in the Bundesliga.

His quick feet, creativity and eye for goal saw him produce a monstrous 35 goals and 20 assists in 51 games for Leipzig this season, averaging a goal or assist every 76 minutes despite playing 4,182 minutes of football.

That he did so while shifting from the centre to the left to the right, having also turned out as a central midfielder in previous campaigns, is the marker of a prodigious talent who could be perfect for Liverpool.

 

Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

LISBON, PORTUGAL - Sunday, August 23, 2020: FC Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski bites his winners’ medal after the UEFA Champions League Final between FC Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain at the Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica. FC Bayern Munich won 1-0. (Credit: ©UEFA)

Age: 33
Nationality: Poland
Positions: CF


It would be rude not to, right? Mane wants to join Bayern, Lewandowski wants to leave Bayern, surely they could work something out?

Sure, the 33-year-old Pole may not fit the blueprint of a modern Liverpool signing, but he is a one-of-a-kind talent who could shine at the top 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, making incredible strides even from his world-class standing under Klopp at Dortmund.

Though it may require a shift in the system, reuniting Klopp with the player he considers the best he has ever coached could well be worth it.

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