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Liverpool: Mane has been the Reds’ main man in 2022 but he’s lacking a final-winning goal

Liverpool’s front three have always been chasing each other, pushing each other to get even better, but Sadio Mane must feel like an odd one out in the tight-knit trio when it comes to finals.

Roberto Firmino has scored his Club World Cup goal, while Mohamed Salah scored his decisive moment with his two-minute penalty in the 2019 Champions League final.

Meanwhile, Mane’s closest thing to a spotlight moment was his leveler in Kiev in 2018, which is likely to leave a bitter taste after a defeat.

Two-thirds of Jürgen Klopp’s original attacking trio have their crown on the job, so could Paris finally be Mane’s chance to seize his?

Mane has played a vital role in helping Liverpool progress to the Champions League final and the success of the FA and Carabao Cup, as well as putting together a remarkable strike to bring back Manchester City’s lead in the Premier League from 14 to one point.

The Senegalese may have lagged behind teammate and Golden Boot winner Salah in the league this season, but he has made up for it in the Reds’ cup competitions.

Sadio Mane is still waiting for a winning goal with Liverpool ahead of this week's final

Sadio Mane is still waiting for a winning goal with Liverpool ahead of this week’s final

Roberto Firmino scored in the final of the World Cup for clubs

Mohamed Salah scored in the Reds' 2019 Champions League win

Roberto Firmino (left) and Mohamed Salah (right) have both scored in the Reds’ overall wins

Mane was pivotal in Liverpool’s FA Cup quest as he went home twice in their 3-2 semi-final to knock City out of the competition and mount their second Wembley showdown of the season with Chelsea.

After Ibrahima Konate’s early opener, the Reds took a 3-0 lead en route to halftime after Mane made a shot in the 17th minute before adding Liverpool’s third just before half time.

He came close to his winning moment in the final as the clash once again headed for penalties.

Mane came to the spot with a chance to take the winning penalty after Cesar Azpilicueta missed the Blues’ second, but he missed painfully to send it to sudden death.

Mane had the chance to grab his moment in the FA Cup final but missed his penalty

Mane had the chance to grab his moment in the FA Cup final but missed his penalty

In addition to his two goals in the Reds’ FA Cup run, Mane has scored 21 goals in all competitions this season – five in 12 Champions League appearances.

Admittedly, the attacker’s form was nothing special in the first half of the season, but he made the switch after the Africa Cup of Nations.

Luis Diaz, a £50m arrival in January, was vital to keep Liverpool afloat during Mane and Salah’s international absence, but there’s no denying that the former has reached the same electric level as the Colombian since his return. .

Mane defeated his Egyptian teammate in the AFCON final and has arguably shown him since his return.

The Senegalese defeated his Egyptian teammate in the final of this year's Africa Cup of National

The Senegalese defeated his Egyptian teammate in the final of this year’s Africa Cup of National

Prior to his international success, he had scored 10 goals in 26 matches with a 14.3 percent success rate. Such a return was equivalent to a goal every 205 minutes.

But with the AFCON award in his pocket, he has scored 13 goals in 24 appearances.

Mane was also instrumental in sealing Liverpool’s passage to their third Champions League final in five years.

He scored in both legs of the Reds semi-final against Villarreal, most critically in the second leg to halt the Yellow Submariners’ comeback.

Since his international success with Senegal, the 30-year-old has returned to Anfield

Since his international success with Senegal, the 30-year-old has returned to Anfield

Two first-half goals from Unai Emery’s side in the second leg quickly turned what should have been a routine result for Liverpool into a tense nail biter.

But goals from Fabinho and Luis Diaz restored the Reds’ comfortable two-goal cushion before Mane sealed victory in the 74th minute.

His excellent form throughout the second half of the season and his recent cup exploits indicate that Mane is in a prime position to finish the Reds’ Champions League campaign in style.

Paris’ showstopper is a repeat of the 2018 final when Liverpool lost 3-1 to Real Madrid in Kiev.

While Salah has openly admitted that he sees Saturday’s fight as an opportunity for revenge, Mane has taken a calmer approach.

Mane scored in both legs of Liverpool's Champions League semi-final against Villarreal

Mane scored in both legs of Liverpool’s Champions League semi-final against Villarreal

He added: “For me it’s not revenge, it’s definitely not revenge. Four years in between, a lot of things have changed – the way we handle games, experience, we have more quality in the team, so it’s an exciting game.

“We have all forgotten what happened in 2018. Real Madrid were definitely the better team and deserved to win the final, and congratulations, but it will be a different game.

“There’s no pressure, nothing at all. Just to enjoy. It’s a dream moment for us, so let’s enjoy it without putting any pressure on ourselves, because it doesn’t help… everyone is confident in it, which is great.”

He may claim he’s not out for revenge, but he’ll certainly want to repeat his threat in front of goal by scoring again against Madrid, but this time he’s hoping it’s the winning attack.

Mane insisted he is not looking for revenge on Saturday if The Reds face Real Madrid again

Mane insisted he is not looking for revenge on Saturday if The Reds face Real Madrid again

However, following his impressive build-up to the end of the season, the Anfield stalwarts will pray it isn’t his parting gift for them.

Salah’s contract story has dominated headlines all season, but in recent weeks Mane’s has come to the fore.

As Salah’s touch in front of goal has failed him, Mane has become more important than ever.

Like Salah, his contract will expire at the end of next season and he revealed he will make a decision about his future after the final.

Mane revealed he will announce his future in Liverpool after the final in Paris on Saturday

Mane revealed he will announce his future in Liverpool after the final in Paris on Saturday

He said: ‘It will definitely be special to win it and make seven (European titles for the club). And this question (my future) I will answer after the Champions League. Stay or not – I’ll answer after the Champions League’.

Earlier this month, Mane emerged as a transfer target for Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain, leaving Liverpool fans unsurprisingly upset.

Reds legend Jamie Carragher led the reaction to the rumours, claiming he would not let Mane leave Anfield.

“Having seen Liverpool as a fan, Sadio Mane is my favorite player,” he said air sports† “There’s just something about Mane. He has sacrificed himself at times and the shift he brings.

Mane jumps into the air during Friday's practice at the Stade de France in Paris

Mane jumps into the air during Friday’s practice at the Stade de France in Paris

“He’s been doing that, along with Salah, for five years – they’ve never been hurt! They are there week in, week out for 90 minutes, getting the numbers every week. What they have done for this football club is unbelievable.

“I’m a big fan of Sadio Mane and I can assure you he’s not going anywhere because I won’t let him go to Bayern Munich, he’s supposed to be with me!”

Either way, stay or go, a final goal would be a fitting tribute – for an emotional goodbye or a dedication to the club.

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