The most positive result of Liverpool’s Saturday came thousands of miles away from Anfield, as Sadio Mané’s Senegal crashed out of the African Cup of Nations.
Mané missed the decisive penalty in a 5-4 shootout loss to Cameroon as the Lions of Teranga exited surprisingly at the quarter-final stage.
What is Senegal’s loss is Liverpool’s gain, however, and the Reds are pulling out all the stops to have him back in the squad as soon as possible. Multiple reports on Sunday morning have stated that the Premier League side have chartered a private jet from Gabon to ensure that the 24-year-old is back in England within the next 24 hours.
Liverpool providing private jet for Sadio Mane to return from Gabon today. Likely to be on bench v Chelsea
— paul joyce (@_pauljoyce) January 29, 2017
Although his return was initially expected to be too late for him to feature against league leaders Chelsea on Tuesday, the prompt manner with which Liverpool are acting has meant that the forward is now set to be on the bench (at least) as Jurgen Klopp’s side look to arrest their alarming slump in his absence.
Mané’s comeback can’t come soon enough from a Liverpool perspective. They have won just once in the seven matches since his departure, including three hugely demoralising home defeats, and exit from two cup competitions, in the space of a week.
Without him, they have become predictable to play against, and the stats below show just how important he has been to his side this season.
— BT Sport Football (@btsportfootball) January 28, 2017
The FA Cup defeat to Wolves on Saturday has threatened to turn Liverpool’s decline into a full-blown crisis – though it has meant that their full focus is now on securing a place in the top four at the end of the season.
With Klopp highly unlikely to sign a new player before Tuesday’s transfer deadline, it is vital for both the manager and the team as a whole that he returns in good form for the rest of the season.