With the international break in full flow, most people are confused between certain players as they play their wildcards. In this series, I attempt to solve some of the most popular midfield dilemmas.
Sadio Mane vs Mohamed Salah
Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah have been a popular dilemma of contention ever since the season has begun. Liverpool have made a free-scoring start to the season, scoring 8 goals in 3 games. Thus, it seems prudent to have one of the Liverpool wingers. There is a case for Roberto Firmino over both, with the forward also on penalty duties, and being £0.4m cheaper than Salah, and £1.0m cheaper than Mane. He also plays centrally, which provides him an edge in the goalscoring department. But if you want more of the Reds’ pie, or can’t make room for a forward in your squad, one of these two might be your men.
Cost – Mane costs £9.6m, while Salah is £9.0m at the moment. Certainly a point in favor of the Egyptian, but could Mane be worth the extra outlay?
Security of starts –
This is a big point in favor of Mane. Manager Jurgen Klopp had already thundered that Liverpool players are in for a season of rotation. It looks as if Salah will be the one more prone to said rotation, with the ex-Roma man having been benched for their home clash against Crystal Palace in Gameweek 2. This was a game sandwiched between Liverpool’s two Champions League qualifier legs against Hoffenheim, which was obviously Klopp’s priority. The German manager fielded a weakened lineup in this game, but a key point being Mane still did start this game. The Senegal winger also played 89 and 88 mins in the Hoffenheim games.
With Champions League group stages up ahead, it seems Salah could be left out of some games. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has been signed for a big money fee, and he’ll provide a ready-made stopgap for Salah. The Egyptian was also left out of a majority of Roma’s Europa League games last season, which means it could be a recurring trend. It looks as if Klopp feels that Mane, their Fans and Players’ Player of the Season of last year, is more indispensable, and must start each game. A big point in favor of Mane.
Statistical Comparison (Mane has played 48 more minutes than Salah) –
Goals – Mane 3-2 Salah
Shots (Inside Box) – Mane 10(9)-12(11) Salah
Shot Accuracy – Mane 75%-64% Salah (more failed shots result in a worse BPS score, leading to lesser bonus points).
Big Chances Missed – Mane 1-2 Salah (more big chances missed also result in a worse BPS score).
Assists – Mane 0-2 Salah
Chances Created – Mane 3-2 Salah
Touches (Per 90 Min) – Mane 61-39 Salah
Successful Passes (Per 90 Min) – Mane 32-17 Salah
Crosses – Mane 7-3 Salah
Bonus – Mane 0-1 Salah
Bonus Points System – Mane 83-65 Salah
Teams Selected by % – Mane 29.6%-27.6% Salah
Heatmaps and Average Positions (I have skipped the Palace game as Salah did not start that) –
One thing is for certain – Mane is the main man, not Salah. It shows from the touches and passes per 90, and the heatmaps that Mane is much more involved than the £34.7m summer signing. His average position is also slightly more further forward. Salah does take more shots, especially since he’s played 48 less minutes, but his accuracy shows that his end product is still a bit lacking, and he’s not the best finisher in the world. He doesn’t take hit and hope shots either, as only one of his shots is outside the box. Mane has more than twice the crosses as Salah too, as well as more chances created so he’s certainly more likely to get an assist too. As far as bonus is concerned – both seem bonus repellants, but Mane still comes on top in that regard. Mane also has a phenomenal record against the bigger sides, so even the tough fixtures won’t impact him. Remains to be seen about Salah.
My preference is Mane. Salah could be a viable alternative, but you could see yourself frustrated with 30 minutes cameo like his owners (and some captainers) were in the home game against Palace. This is especially a problem as Klopp will choose the easier games to rest the Egyptian, the games where you’d expect double figures hauls from your premium midfielders. Too much of a heartbreak for me to handle, so I’ll stick with the safer option in Sadio, who I think is worth the extra outlay.
Future Editions –
I will also be similarly analyzing Henrikh Mkhitaryan vs Paul Pogba and Christian Eriksen vs Dele Alli in this series. If you have any other comparisons you’d like me to analyse, do let me know in the comments section.
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