BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) – Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp heaped praise on his forward Sadio Mane after the Senegalese scored the winner against Aston Villa on Tuesday that kept his side alive in the Premier League title race.
Mane’s smart header in the 65th minute from a Luis Diaz cross once again showed his ability in front of goal, on the same day reports emerged that Barcelona and Bayern Munich were interested in signing the 30-year-old with his contract expiring at the end of next season.
Liverpool were struggling at 1-1 in the game at Villa Park until Mane’s intervention which was his 22nd goal for the club in all competitions this season.
“He’s a machine, I told him after the game. He is a massive player. His physicality is brutal. He is a mix of technique, desire and physicality when at the moment everyone has a few yards in the legs,” Klopp told Sky Sports.
“You can see it with him to be honest. Top goal, he is just a fantastic world-class player.”
British media reports said on Tuesday Liverpool were keen to re-open contract talks with Mane to ward off potential suitors such as Bayern who may need to replace striker Robert Lewandowski.
The Pole has been linked with a move away from the German champions this summer.
Klopp will bank on Mane providing some more inspiration in the FA Cup final against Chelsea on Saturday, but he may have to do without defensive midfielder Fabinho who was forced off injured in the first half at Villa.
“Yeah, like all injuries during the season (it’s a blow). He’s rather positive, I’m not sure what I can make of that so we have to wait for further assessment,” the German told the BBC.
“(It’s) Massive for us, we will be ready for Saturday but now it’s definitely recovery time, analyse time for the coaches, even though we played Chelsea a lot of times this season still necessary and from Thursday we will try to help the boys with all the information to prepare for this game.”
(Reporting by Christian Radnedge; Editing by Toby Davis)