With Liverpool on track to win a first English Premier League (EPL) title in 30 years, as the league prepares to resume on June 17, Egypt’s Mohamed Salah and Senegal’s Sadio Mane have already proved vital in the Merseyside side’s rise to success.
Before the season was suspended in March due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Liverpool had reached 82 points from 29 matches. It means Liverpool need just two more wins from their nine remaining games to clinch the title. Manchester City are a mammoth 25 points behind with 57 in second from 28 matches.
Mane turned 28 in April, and Mane will celebrate his 28th birthday on June 15 as the pair are entering the prime of their footballing careers. Assuming Liverpool go on to claim their first title since the 1989/1990 season, the African influence will have been a major factor in their success.
It’s therefore not ridiculous to suggest that in the future if the African pair continue to play at such a high level, the comparisons between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will be as commonplace as those of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
The most recent achievement of Mane was being crowned African Player of the Year for the 2019 season, earlier this year. He was nominated alongside Salah, and Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez of Morocco.
Mane was Senegal’s main man at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations when he netted three goals on the Teranga Lions’ path to the final where they lost by a solitary goal to Algeria. He netted a brace in the 3-0 group phase victory over Kenya and added one more in the round of 16, 1-0 win over Uganda.
He was also a vital part of the team as they beat Benin and Tunisia in the quarters and semis respectively, his influence playing a big role in Senegal’s run to the final.
For Liverpool, Mane was just as sensational as he was for Senegal as he played another crucial role aiding them to the Uefa Champions League title for the first time since 2005.
The forward scored crucial goals, key among them a double over Bayern Munich in a 3-1 victory in the round of 16 and once in the aggregate 6-1 win over Porto in the quarterfinals; as the Reds steamrolled into the final and ultimately bag the Champions League title.
In the EPL, Mane and Salah shared the Golden Boot crown with Arsenal’s Gabonese front-man Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, all three having netted 22 times for their respective clubs. On top of that, Mane scored 39 goals across all competitions for Liverpool in the 2018-2019 season.
Mohamed Salah, meanwhile, is already a two-time winner of the African Player of the Year award – claiming the title in 2017 and 2018.
The former Chelsea player in his debut season (2017/2018) for Liverpool, Salah scored a phenomenal 32 goals from 36 league matches. In the 2018/2019 season he scored 22 goals after appearing in all 38 matches. This season to date, he has scored 12 goals from 21 league outings. In total, Salah has scored 66 goals for Liverpool from 95 games across all competitions.
Mane began his Liverpool career in June 2016 after transferring from Southampton. At the time, his transfer fee of 34 million pounds (R666m) made him the most expensive African player in history.
If Liverpool are indeed crowned champions – it will be in no small part due to the incredible contributions of the two future kings of African football.