Liverpool could have their work cut out for them this summer if Real Madrid are able to lure superstar Sadio Mane to Spain, here’s some replacements that the Reds should look at.
According to a report from Marca, Liverpool’s Senegalese star is a top target for Real Madrid this summer and Zinedine Zidane is understood to be a very keen admirer of the 26-year-old.
According to another report from Marca, despite Mane’s close relationship with Jurgen Klopp – the star’s head could be turned by the prospect of playing under Zinedine Zidane – the Frenchman is a worldwide football icon.
With Zidane being just 46 years of age – many of today’s stars idolised ‘Zizou’ growing up, so it’s no surprise that they’d want to play under him.
We’ve picked out five replacements that the Reds should target in the summer, if Mane leaves for Los Blancos.
1. Marco Asensio
According to Sport, Jurgen Klopp will demand Marco Asensio should Madrid come calling for Mane, the report highlights that Klopp is a massive admirer of the attacker and that he even tried to sign the Spaniard last summer.
Whilst Asensio’s form has dipped this season, the Spain international has a massive upside – at just 23 years old, the attacking midfielder has experienced it all and most importantly he’s experienced winning. Liverpool are so close to returning to their former glory under Klopp, the last hurdle that Klopp needs to overcome is quite a big one – winning silverware.
Reaching finals and finishing second-best just shouldn’t cut it with this Liverpool team and the final piece in overcoming this puzzle could be signing players that are winners. Asensio will no doubt be able to handle the pressure of playing for the Reds, given his experience with Los Blancos.
2. Callum Hudson-Odoi
The stock of Chelsea youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi has rose astronomically in recent months, the talented young winger could be the perfect replacement for Mane. According to Bild journalist Christian Falk, the Reds still hold an interest in the 18-year-old.
— Christian Falk (@cfbayern) March 21, 2019
Hudson-Odoi can look at Klopp’s track record with youngsters Joe Gomez and Trent Alexander-Arnold as an example of the success he can have with the Reds, with the star winning two caps for the England senior team this international break it’s now no longer a question of whether he’s good enough for the top level.
If Maurizio Sarri doesn’t flip the script and begin to start the ace for the Blues, he could eye a move away from Stamford Bridge in the summer.
Hudson-Odoi was keen to leave Chelsea in the January transfer window, according to Sky Sports, should he eye the exit door again the Reds will likely have to compete with Bayern Munich. The Bavarians made four approaches for the youngster in January.
3. Jadon Sancho
Sancho is one the most exciting young players across the world, the Manchester City academy graduate is no doubt on the top of the shopping list for most of Europe’s elite given his dazzling performances for Borussia Dortmund this season and England.
Sancho has come on leaps and bounds since leaving City, proving to everyone that his decision to ditch a spot in a squad managed by Pep Guardiola was the right one.
The 19-year-old has shown that he’s more than ready for a starting berth at a top club, Sancho also has the ‘magic’ in him that could give Liverpool what they’ve missed since Philippe Coutinho left for Barcelona.
The England international has the ability to both score and create goals from nothing.
4. Luka Jovic
According to the Mail, Luka Jovic is on Klopp’s radar as a potential replacement for Mane. The 21-year-old who is on loan at Eintracht Frankfurt from Portuguese giants Benfica, has been in sensational form this season. The ace has scored 15 goals and notched 5 assists in just 24 appearances.
The Mail’s report also reveals that Barcelona have identified the star as a top target this summer, but the Reds could beat the Catalan giants and the rest of Europe’s elite in the hunt for the prolific striker because of one particular trick that they have up their sleeve.
That trump card is none other than Marko Grujic, the midfielder who is out on loan from Liverpool to Hertha Berlin could convince his compatriot that a move to the Reds is best for him. Both Jovic and Grujic are now full Serbian internationals but with the pair playing for almost of all Serbia’s youth teams, there’s no doubt that they have a good relationship.
Here’s pair back in 2014:
Luka Jovic and Marko Grujic back in the day. ??
Jungle Book’s Mowgli meets Slumdog Millionaire’s Jamal Malik.
Gotta love this photo. ? pic.twitter.com/pqdmgRP6oK
— Miloš Markovi? (@MilosMarkovic) March 20, 2019
5. Nicolas Pepe
We couldn’t write this list without including one of the most in-form players in Europe, Nicolas Pepe. The Lille star has been one of the best players in Ligue 1 this season.
The Ivorian is a target for Premier League sides Arsenal and Liverpool, as well as European heavyweights Barcelona, Bayern Munich and PSG according to TEAMtalk.
Pepe has scored 17 goals this season as well laying on 8 assists to his teammates. Pepe certainly fits the mould as the kind of player who’d be perfect to replace Mane; he has the versatility across the frontline, eye for a goal and works hard for his teammates – something that can help him slot perfectly into Klopp’s system.
Not only will Liverpool have to beat some of Europe’s elite to sign Pepe, but they will have to stump at least £68.5m to do so.
According to the Metro via beIN Sports, Bayern are leading the race for the Ivorian’s signature after launching a bid of €80m (£68.5m), given Pepe’s impressive performances this season there’s no doubt that someone will come calling for his services in the summer.
Who do you think would be the perfect replacement for Mane at Liverpool?