Sadio Mane assisted Senegal’s winner v Benin last night in the quarterfinals of the AFCON.
Our superstar no.10 used his quick feet to set Idrissa Gueye through on goal, and in fairness, the Everton midfielder finished superbly.
The 1-0 victory is fantastic for Mane, but a little less good for Liverpool’s hopes of fielding the 27-year-old on Premier League opening night.
Senegal’s win means they’re now in the semis, against either Madagascar or Tunisia, on July 14th.
If they win that game, which they’ll be heavy favourites to, regardless of who they’re up against – they’ll be in the AFCON Final on July 19th.
That will take place exactly 16 days before our Community Shield fixture with Manchester City on August 4th, which you can essentially rule Mane out of already – even if Senegal don’t win their semi.
Our first Premier League game is on August 9th, just 21 days (or three weeks) after the AFCON Final.
If Mane plays in the Final, we’d imagine this fixture will come too soon for him as well. If he loses the semi, he’ll still have to play a Third Place Play-off (why do they still do those?!), which takes place on July 17th, giving him a small chance of making the Norwich fixture.
It’s normal for Jurgen Klopp to give his players a three week break, and following this, Mane will need to return to training and find full fitness – so it’s looking like either Rhian Brewster or Divock Origi will be starting the 2019/20 season as part of the front-three – emphasising the importance of their performances in the summer friendlies.