Sadio Mane insisted he is “happy” at Liverpool after his winning goal against Aston Villa moved the Reds level with Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table, at least temporarily.
Mane’s future has been called into doubt this week amid reports of interest from Bayern Munich, but Jurgen Klopp stressed his importance as he kept Liverpool’s hopes of the quadruple alive.
“He’s a machine, I told him after the game,” Klopp told Sky Sports. “[A] massive player, his physicality is brutal. The mix of technique, desire and physicality.
“You can see [he has] a few yards in the legs, we can see it to be honest. He’s a fantastic, world-class player.”
Liverpool were all the more reliant on the Senegal forward with Mohamed Salah starting on the bench, one of five changes from the 1-1 draw with Tottenham.
When Mane was asked if he was happy to stay at the club this summer in his post-match interview, he said: “When we win the trophies, I was happier. I’m just trying to enjoy every moment and try to score and assist for my team-mates.”
Liverpool were forced to overcome an early scare when Alisson spilled Douglas Luiz’s header and the 24-year-old bundled the ball into the net.
That lead lasted just three minutes, however, with Joel Matip equalising from close range before Mane’s headed goal from a Luis Diaz cross.
“It was a good cross from Diaz and I was in the box so I just had to put it in the net,” Mane said. “Even without power, I usually score and that’s what I tried to do.”
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher said Mane had become his “favourite player”.
“I’m a huge fan of Sadio Mane and I can assure you he will be going nowhere because I will not let him go to Bayern Munich, he’d have me to deal with!” he joked afterwards.
Captain Jordan Henderson described Mane’s performance as “incredible”.
“The work he does of the ball for the team was incredible, defending at the end,” he added. “But his quality in and around the box – it’s the gym isn’t it with that neck muscles!”