It is not quite the same as a picture of Jurgen Klopp with his arm around Sadio Mane, as the Senegalese pens his signature on a blank piece of paper. Nor is it the famed Anfield lean. But it is a slight boost for Liverpool, who have been locked in contract negotiations with the forward for some time.
“I am more focused on the games, things like contracts I leave with my agent,” Mane told the Liverpool Echo over the weekend. “I am happy and concentrating on giving my best for my team-mates, my manager and the fans.”
Mane is the last of Liverpool’s famed fearsome attacking trio to extend his deal with the club. Roberto Firmino agreed improved terms in April, while Mohamed Salah was rewarded for his phenomenal form in the summer. Mane is outperforming both this season with seven goals and one assist in 14 appearances.
It has always seemed likely that he will stick around. Liverpool issued a one-word response to rumours of Real Madrid interest in June, while some have speculated that Barcelona will swoop. But the boy is “happy”, so why would he leave now?
According to Mundo Deportivo, the Catalan club is ‘looking for a cheap centre with experience’, meaning centre-half. Samuel Umtiti could well be sidelined for a while, and Thomas Vermaelen is rather predictably in a similar predicament. Gerard Pique and Clement Lenglet is a fine pairing, but there is little depth beyond them.
Dejan Lovren was a reported target not long ago, but Barca have moved on. Don’t they know he’s f***ing brilliant?
Perhaps he is too expensive. Which is why Branislav Ivanovic is included on a long list of players including Medhi Benatia (Juventus), Raul Albiol (Napoli), Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal), Benedikt Höwedes and Vedran Corluka (both Lokomotiv Moscow), Domagoj Vida (Besiktas), Dante (Nice), David Luiz (Chelsea), Neven Subotic and Timothée Kolodziejczak (S. Étienne), Adil Rami (Marseille), José Fonte (Lille) and Pepe (Besiktas). Bloody Pepe (Besiktas)!
Those are quite the names, each on there due to their ‘affordable price’ and ‘guaranteed immediate performance’. Of course, the two most interesting players with regards to the Premier League are Laurent Koscielny and David Luiz. The former is injured, while Chelsea are unlikely to let the latter go for this supposed ‘cheap’ fee.
We’ll go as far as to say that Barcelona signing Pepe is more believable than them both wanting and getting either of Koscielny or Luiz.
AND THE REST
LA Galaxy’s former Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 37, could return to AC Milan on a six-month deal… Barcelona have reopened talks with the representatives of Chelsea and Brazil winger Willian, 30, after the Blues rejected three offers over the summer… Chelsea target Joao Felix, 18, has been offered a new contract by Benfica. The Portugal Under-21 midfielder’s new deal would include a £105m buyout clause… Thorgan Hazard, brother of Chelsea and Belgium midfielder Eden, says the 27-year-old will not leave Stamford Bridge for Real Madrid in January… Wolves, Crystal Palace and Southampton are all interested in Leeds forward Kemar Roofe, 25.