Virgil van Dijk was a strong contender but lost out to Lionel Messi. Mohamed Salah was tipped for a high finish after building on his remarkable 2017/18 campaign and his fifth-place finish was deserved. However, very few envisaged him finishing behind two team-mates. But this was the case with Sadio Mané pipping the Egyptian to clinch a top-four place.
The following season saw quite an improvement. His shot total remained fairly similar, 23 via the left foot and 42 right-footed efforts, but he was adding real value to his chances. He finished the campaign with an expected goals average of 0.44 and a post-shot expected goals per 90 total of 0.53.
It had quite the impact on his output, with 21 per cent of his shots on his left foot resulting in a goal while 26 per cent of shots taken on his right found the back of the net. For a little more context, 81 per cent of Salah’s Premier League goals last season were via his stronger foot compared to the Senegalese speedster’s 55 per cent.
Mané has set about showing the world that the 2018/19 season wasn’t a one-off. So far this term he’s needed nine times in the Premier League. The 5ft 7ins forward has two headed goals to his name while the remaining nine are split six to three in favour of his right foot. But three of his five assists have come via his left foot meaning goal involvements per foot are almost split equally.
Furthermore, an astonishing 37 per cent of his left-footed attempts have beaten the goalkeeper while he’s scored 23 per cent of his right-footed efforts. What separates the Liverpool forward from others is the fact he went about improving his finishing in general. Others would concentrate on improving finishing with their favoured foot but Mané realised the importance of being unpredictable.
As a dribbler, it is a requirement to use both feet but players often overlook this and in turn become somewhat one-dimensional. But Mané’s unpredictability on the ball leads to chances on either side and he’s ensured his perceived weaker foot is as dangerous as his stronger one. Because of this, he’s scoring more goals than ever and it’s why he’s one of the most-feared strikers in world football today.
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