Paul Merson has claimed that Liverpool’s decision to sell Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich this summer was ‘the worst business ever’.
The Senegal star swapped Anfield for the Allianz Arena in a deal worth £35m after winning every major trophy possible during his time on Merseyside.
Jurgen Klopp’s side have experienced a slow start to the campaign and it has been suggested that the exit of the ex-Southampton man is one of the main reasons behind the Reds’ current form.
“I’ve said it from day one, in my opinion, selling Sadio Mane was the worst business ever,” the Sky Sports pundit told Sky Sports. “The bloke scores big, big goals. Go through them, first goals, equalisers, winning goals in last minutes, big goals.
“He led from the front with his closing down, and for me, what they sold him for, I just didn’t get it. Darwin Nunez isn’t in the same league at the moment. Not in the same league at all.
“Their problems at the back start from the front. They’re not closing down as a unit – you can go on about how talented that front three was, but they closed down from the front. It only took one more pass, and they’d score.
“Now they don’t – so teams get through that press, if there is one, then they’re into a midfield three which isn’t the best in the country, and then you’re running at the back four.
“How many players have run at Van Dijk this season, compared to the last three or four years?
“It doesn’t matter how good a player you are when you’ve got people running at you left, right and centre.”
Whilst we understand the comments that Merson has made regarding our former No.10, Luis Diaz has started the campaign superbly as he continues to act as Mane’s replacement somewhat.
The Colombian is averaging a goal contribution every other game for the club this season and he is one of the very few Liverpool stars that can be proud of his efforts so far.
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Up next for the Merseysiders in the Premier League is first-placed Arsenal.
Mikel Arteta’s side are flying at the moment and will fancy their chances of earning all three points against the FA Cup holders.
“I’m not a stats person, so I’m just going off the top of my head – but for me, Mane was a big, big player for Liverpool,” Merson continued. “To sell him for £30m-odd, which in the world of the Premier League is a cup of tea, wouldn’t they have been better off to keep him and let him go for free?
“It’s come back to bite them and could cost them a lot more than £30m by the end of the season. If Arsenal win on Sunday, they’re out of the equation in terms of Liverpool catching them, and then there’s only two spaces for the top four. If they win it, then they’re one of those teams who can go on a little run. Eight points to 14 points is a lot of difference.
“It’s ‘must-not-lose’ for them. Liverpool aren’t catching Man City, so their season already is about getting in the top four.”
We are only seven games into the campaign but if we don’t return to form quickly then this campaign is going to be a disappointing one.
We can still compete on the other three fronts but many had us down as their favourites to lift the league title this season.
Let’s hope for a huge performance against Rangers in the Champions League tomorrow night to earn all three points and a much-needed boost in confidence.