Liverpool have arranged for a private jet to transport striker Sadio Mané back to Merseyside from Gabon, where he has been on national team duty with Senegal at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
The Reds have a decisive English Premier League encounter with EPL leaders Chelsea on Tuesday, and the specially organised transport is being put into place to ensure that Africa’s most expensive player arrives back at his club in time to play a part in the encounter.
Senegal’s run at the 2017 AFCON ended on Saturday night when the Teranga Lions lost out to Cameroon in a penalty shootout, with Mané missing the final penalty for his national team.
Liverpool have endured a torrid time in January, winning only a single match in the FA Cup third round against Plymouth before being knocked out of the FA and League Cups.
Two losses to Southampton, a loss to Swansea and another defeat to Wolves in the FA Cup added to draws with Sunderland, Plymouth and Manchester United.
Mané has been absent for the majority of those matches, and he will return to Anfield with Liverpool having fallen to fourth on the EPL table, 10 points off the pace set by Chelsea.
Coach Jurgen Klopp is hoping that Mane’s return will provide his team with the firepower needed to beat Antonio Conte’s Blues.
Mane’s form this season for both club and country has been impressive, and having him back in the lineup will certainly be a boost for Klopp and company, but with the disappointment of an AFCON penalty shootout loss still weighing on his mind, and the added minutes on harsh Gabonese pitches in his legs, Liverpool should be cautious to reintroduce Mané from the start.
Perhaps a super sub role would be the wise move, with the former Southampton striker coming on in the second half to show Reds fans what they have been missing during Senegal’s journey at the AFCON.