The former Reds midfielder believes injury struggles at Anfield in 2020-21 have hit the Senegalese forward harder than those around him
Mohamed Salah has continued to outshine Sadio Mane at Liverpool in a testing campaign at Anfield because injuries to others have hit the Senegalese star hard, says John Barnes.
Jurgen Klopp has seen his side knocked from the Premier League summit this season, their long-awaited title surrendered with little resistance, and key men have struggled to find form and fitness on a consistent basis.
Mane is among those to have suffered a slump, leading to him being dropped to the bench for the recent meeting with Aston Villa, and the 29-year-old has mustered just 12 goals in all competitions compared to the 28 that Egyptian star Salah has recorded.
What has been said?
Speaking in association with BonusCodeBets, Reds legend Barnes told Goal: “If you look at the Liverpool team, with the players that are missing, it’s clearly affected Sadio Mane.
“Maybe it has affected him more than Mohamed Salah, but that’s because their games are different to each other. Mane relies on the midfielders and defenders giving him the ball, whereas Salah relies on Mane to assist him.
“They’ve [Mane and Salah] never scored the same number of goals in a season, Salah has always scored more.
“People are always looking for reasons and excuses why [Salah scores more], the same with Roberto Firmino, who also gives you more than just scoring goals. Mohamed Salah is the main goal-scorer, you shouldn’t compare the two.”
Will Mane rediscover his spark?
Klopp returned a proven performer to his starting XI for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final clash with Real Madrid, but a 0-0 draw dumped the Reds out of Europe.
Liverpool will be hoping their spark is rediscovered over the coming weeks, as they continue to chase down a top-four finish.
Mane could have a big role to play, having netted 93 times in 211 appearances while on Merseyside, and Barnes believes any further urge to rest and rotate from this point should be resisted by Klopp.
He added: “Plenty of people are saying that Sadio Mane needs a rest, but he doesn’t need a rest as he’s not tired. He’s playing well, the team are starting to play more consistently and the players around him are playing better.
“He plays all the games because he is fit and is playing well, despite everyone else struggling with confidence. Every game he’s a threat with and without the ball, and even though things may not be going well for him, he is still helping the team.
“Sadio Mane is playing through his slight dip in form and getting his confidence back over time, so resting him won’t help him.”
Liverpool, who sit sixth in the English top-flight, will be back in action on Monday at Leeds.