Liverpool identify Real Madrid star as ‘ideal Mane replacement’

Lewis Oldham
Liverpool linked Vinicius Junior

Liverpool have reportedly identified Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior as an “ideal replacement” for Sadio Mane, who is out of contract in 2023.

The 29-year-old has been at Liverpool since 2016. They paid £34m to bring in him from their Premier League rivals Southampton.

This signing was questioned at the time but he has surpassed expectations at Liverpool. He has netted 106 goals from his 239 appearances across all competitions.

Sadio Mane is flying – Liverpool just hope it isn’t to AFCON

He has been a key player alongside Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino. The trio have been integral as Liverpool have won the Champions League and Premier League in recent years.

Mane’s future is in doubt as, like Salah, his contract at Liverpool is set to expire in 2023.

Spanish outlet Defensa Central are reporting that Jurgen Klopp “wants” Real Madrid attacker Vinicius Junior.

The Reds boss has identified Vinicius as an “ideal replacement” for Mane. This deal would be difficult to complete though as the 21-year-old is seen as a crucial player by Real Madrid.

If the tournament goes ahead, Mane, Salah and Naby Keita are set to feature at next month’s African Cup of Nations. Liverpool will be without them for around a month.

Klopp is “confident” that Liverpool can cope without the trio:

“We knew three would be qualified and be there and we knew that at least two of them will go pretty far in the tournament,” said Klopp.

“Can you be prepared for something like that, properly, perfectly? Like a one-for-one replacement for Sadio, a replacement for Mo, one replacement for Naby?

“That’s tricky in each situation. I am happy with the squad and we have options to play and still to play football.

“The thing is there are so many games coming up when we are still together – that is the most intense period now – but then we have a lot of games when Mo and Naby and Sadio are not here.

“That means we have to find line-ups for these games, even when we have cup competitions we have to find line-ups for these games as well, and that is the situation so you can never be perfectly prepared for this.

“We are quite confident we will find solutions.”