Redmen TV expert on why Mane and Keita definitely have a genuine bond on the pitch
Sam McGuire of Redmen TV takes a look at the friendship Sadio Mane and Naby Keita seem to have and the way it impacts Liverpool's performance. There are many examples in the Reds history when the club paired great players for good: Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush, Kevin Keegan and John Toshack, Stan Collymore and Robbie Fowler, Robbie Fowler and Michael Owen, Michael Owen and Emile Heskey. But who of them enjoyed a good relationship outside Anfield?
"Jurgen Klopp has assembled a group of players who, going off of the Instagram stories this summer, all really get on. But the most intriguing friendship is that between Mane and Keita. The two are long-time friends having spent a brief time together in Austria while playing for Red Bull Salzburg in 2014. Mane eventually left to join Southampton but he went out of his way to make the midfielder feel at home. "He helped me with everything – the language, making friends, understanding the club and the city," Keita remembered.
✅ Debut— LFC USA (@LFCUSA) August 14, 2018
2 years ago today Sadio Mané cemented himself in the hearts of Liverpool supporters pic.twitter.com/GDNTdujpLD
"He’s a friend for me,” said Mane, speaking to LFC TV. "Even not a friend, he’s like a brother. Because we keep in touch all the time, talking." The fact they’re both represented by Arena11 has no doubt helped keep this friendship strong. Reuniting them could be the catalyst for both players to take their games to the next level and if their performances against West Ham United are anything to go by the players feel the same way about this, too.
"It was their link-up play that got people talking. It was obvious from the off on Sunday. It wasn’t anything spectacular but Mane, like a big brother taking the lead, was dictating where and what Keita should do with the ball as he felt his way into the match. In the picture above you can clearly see the Liverpool forward pointing to where he wants the ball. The No.8 plays a ball into Mane’s feet and the Senegalese speedster turns on the ball, given he’s in a fair amount of space, and plays it out wide to James Milner.
"The picture above is just prior to Salah seeing his effort saved by Lukasz Fabianski but what’s interesting is what is going on at the back post. Both Keita and Mane are attacking it and Liverpool have what resembles a front four. However, the former is only in that position because of what transpired beforehand. The former RB Leipzig man picked the ball up in a central area and drove forward into the space vacated by Mane after he’d drifted into a wide position.
"It’s different to what he was doing last season when he was taking up positions in the centre of the pitch and looking to be the creator. But he’s already adapting his style to accommodate Keita. He may have made an initial run wide but it’s Mane who plays a pass to Firmino before breaking his neck to get into a goalscoring position within the six-yard area.
"He’s still doing Mane things but he’s doing it in a way which allows Keita to get involved and this can only be a positive for the side. Not to get carried away with it but if this is a sign of things to come, this could be one of the best and most profitable partnerships the Reds have ever had and could be one of the foundations to help build a title challenge."