The growing influence of Sadio Mane on the side of Jurgen Klopp in Liverpool is becoming clearer throughout the week.
The debut campaign of the Senegal international in Anfield was electric, with the signing of £ 30 million from Southampton yielding a total of 13 goals before his season on 1 April last year was shortened prematurely due to an injury in the derby of Merseyside.
His return to the side saw him returning to a team that could boast about the scorching form of new signing Mohamed Salah, the refined intelligence of Roberto Firmino and the creative genius of Philippe Coutinho.
And while Liverpool's supporters still appreciated the deception, the pace and the eye for the goal that Mane added to Klopp, his interest had somewhat diminished since he had fought in Anfield in that 3-1 victory over Everton, especially given the perfect adaptation of Salah to English football.
Mane had contributed six goals to a free-scoring Liverpool-run in 22 appearances before the turn of the year last year, with the slim wideman perhaps playing the Ringo Starr role in the much-sung & Fab Four & # 39; from the Reds.
Coutinho's £ 142million move to Barcelona, however, coincided with hitting Mane on the turbo button on his goal load, and the African has not looked back since bringing a crucial goal to Burnley on New Year's Day.
Whether it's tactical design or pure coincidence, Mane's performance levels and goal-tracking have improved since Coutinho left Anfield, with the Senegal speedster comfortably taking more responsibility for Liverpool's offensive talent.
Rather than wanting to play Coutinho – one of the most purely talented creators of football – at every turn, it is debatable that Liverpool has had to develop opposition defenses in different ways since they lost their No.10, and Mane is definitely on the board. stepped. since January.
And while stylistically there must have been a central attacking midfielder since Coutinho left, Mane's approval of a new squad number has given supporters a new No.10 to cheer up this season.
His strike against the Clarets on January 1 ended a seven-game run without finding the back of the net and he added another dozen to his name when the Reds finished a top four on the last day of the Premier League campaign for the second consecutive season in May.
Mane still had time to close his 20th from a beautiful individual year in Kiev when Liverpool was beaten 3-1 by Real Madrid in the final of the Champions League.
Interestingly, half of Mane's 20 goals were scored in the Champions League and his eye for goal in the European competition will be needed again when Klopp returns to the horse on the continent later this year.
Mane earned 11 goals in the last 17 games of the last term and has continued that impressive form in the current campaign – a season many of which predict that there will be a very real Premier League title challenge from Anfield.
If such premonitions turn out to be correct, Mane will be the driving force behind the business, and there is no doubt that he has begun impressively.
Three goals in his opening games have placed Mane at the top of the scoring tables for the Reds so far and make it 14 in his last 18 appearances for the men of Klopp.
While Firmino and Salah slowly tried to find their way back into the groove after their efforts at the World Cup, Mane landed on the ground, picking up where he stayed in Kiev on 26 May.
There is a new contract on the horizon for Mane at Anfield, and although all parties involved are supposed to be relaxed during conversations, the 26-year-old certainly deserves to be rewarded in the same way that Firmino and Salah are the last couple been months.
The versatile front man is currently confident, and clearly enjoys his work in one of the world's most deadly front lines.
His influence is increasing and his presence on the side can even become more integral over the next few months.