With the speculation increasing that Sadio Mané has played his final game as a Liverpool player, the rumors will go into overdrive about who will replace the Senegalese forward.
Mané has supposedly informed the club that after six wildly successful years at Anfield, the No.10 wants to leave the club and experience something new. He has, of course, a year remaining on his current deal, but it’s likely that given his years of brilliant service, the club wouldn’t stand in his way of leaving.
Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain are thought to be highly interested in Mané, and it is thought that Liverpool would like to receive a fee of around £ 40m.
READ MORE:Son Heung-min is a Liverpool transfer reminder that makes Sadio Mané succession plan fascinating
READ MORE: Liverpool transfer for ‘classy’ playmaker makes sense as ‘one of Europe’s best’ monitored
But who will replace him? Whoever steps into the role, they will have big shoes to fill.
One candidate that has already been mentioned is Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembélé. Dembélé stories of course are no stranger to Liverpool fans. The Frenchman has been linked to Liverpool consistently over the past year, with his own contract at the Catalan side due to expire in a matter of weeks.
Spanish outlet Sport state that Liverpool have made contact with the 25-year-old’s entourage over a potential deal to England.
Does a move for Dembélé make sense for Liverpool? There can be little doubt that there is a talent there in Dembélé. It can be difficult to remember now, after five years of injuries and little productivity, that there was a reason why Barcelona shelled out around £ 100m for him in the aftermath of the Neymar deal.
In his only season at Borussia Dortmund, Dembélé had shown so much promise, with his pace electric and ability to beat players seemingly at will.
Yet the move to Barcelona was undoubtedly one he made too soon. Hindsight, of course, is a wonderful thing, but a further year at Dortmund would have been beneficial to Dembélé’s career, rather than getting lost in the shuffle at Barcelona among the stable of world-class players at Camp Nou at the time.
Injuries blighted his stint in Spain, to such an extent that he’s only made 150 appearances for Barcelona in half a decade. Yet this season Dembélé has shown signs of the Barcelona player thought they were getting in 2017. He played 21 times in La Liga, and only scored once, but provided 13 assists.
Dembélé had a strong second half of the season, and this will no doubt play a factor in any club making a move for him.
If he lowered his wages demands, signing Dembélé could be a low-risk investment for Liverpool. His injury record is terrible, but perhaps he has put it behind him, as he was not on the treatment table in the second half of 2021/22.
Dembélé wouldn’t provide anywhere near the same level of goals as Mané has done for Liverpool, but if Dembélé arrived in addition to another top class forward, then it could be a smart move by the club. A combination of Luis Díaz on one side and Dembélé on the other could be electrifying. Moreover, as Dembélé plays on the right, he would provide genuine competition for Mohamed Salah.
Signing Dembélé on a free transfer would represent plenty of upswing for Liverpool (and be another damning indictment of Barcelona’s transfer failings), and should things not work out after a season or two, there’s always the option to move him on for a profit.
Dembélé on his own wouldn’t make up for life after Mané, but he would be a start.