Liverpool will reportedly send a personal physio with Sadio Mane to the Africa Cup of Nations in order to ensure that he returns fully fit.
Jurgen Klopp is said to be that concerned about the £34m summer signing coming back from Gabon exhausted that the club have hired their own medical specialist to travel with him and monitor his fitness throughout the month-long tournament, as per The Times.
Aside from the fact that the 24-year-old is going to miss key games against Manchester United and Chelsea which is a huge blow in itself, the last thing that the Reds need is for him to return lacking full match sharpness and missing further time.
The Africa Cup of Nations final is scheduled for February 5, and so with Mane leaving after the clash with Sunderland on Monday, he will be absent for an extended period of time.
Dave Galley, the former head physio at the club between 1999 and 2005, will accompany Mane in Africa, as per the report, and will be tasked with reporting back to the club with any issues and concerns about his fitness in the weeks ahead.
On the face of it, it seems like a pretty over-the-top scenario with Liverpool overreacting. However, given the fact that the Senegal international has scored eight goals and provided five assists in 17 Premier League games so far this season, he has proven to be absolutely crucial to their success.
Liverpool sit six points adrift of league leaders Chelsea after 18 games, and they’ll hope that they can at least stay within striking distance while they’re without one of their star performers so far this year.