Jurgen Klopp explains Sadio Mane’s Liverpool position change and makes Diogo Jota admission

Sadio Mane scored his 20th goal of the season in Liverpool’s 2-0 win over Villarreal in the Champions League semi-final first leg at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp believes that Sadio Mane is a ‘world-class’ centre-forward after his Liverpool positional change.

Mane helped move the Reds within 90 minutes of a third Champions League final in five seasons against Villarreal last night.

The Senegal international netted Liverpool’s second goal - and 20th of the season - in the 2-0 semi-final first-leg victory at Anfield.

Since Luis Diaz’s arrival in January, Mane has switched from his customary left-wing role to spearhead Liverpool’s attack.

As a result, Diogo Jota has slipped down the pecking order somewhat.

And while Klopp still retains plenty of faith in Jota and Roberto Firmino - who was again absent with an ankle injury - he feels Mane has the qualities to operate as a striker.


What’s been said

Klopp told reporters: “Why him? I think that's obvious.

“I like. He can play left, he can play central. In both positions, he is world-class.

“He started for us at Liverpool on the right wing. Those will remember his goal against Arsenal, maybe it was his first, when he cut inside and fired with his left foot into the far corner.

“Absolutely outstanding, love it. At the moment, this is a good alternative.

“I love Diogo in the centre, I love Bobby in the centre and Sadio on the left but we should not be that fixed.


Liverpool celebrate after Sadio Mane scores against Villarreal. Picture: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

“We are looking at different ways Sadio plays. Sometimes, we want him to drop slightly more, tonight we wanted him to stay between the centre-halves, keep them away and offer the runs behind.

“All those are [not] secrets because, if you watch it back, you will see it anyway.

“Because he has the skillset for it, that's the reason why.”

‘No more, no less’

Liverpool are firmly in command of the semi-final ahead of the trip to the Estadio de la Cerámica next week.


However, Klopp has insisted the Reds' feet remain firmly grounded.

He added: “The way we played and the way we defended Villarreal, the way we attacked Villarreal. You have to score goals, that’s clear, football is the same.

“I liked the first half already, it was clear we had to keep going. What I like most about Villarreal is that even when they are under pressure, when there is one moment they can get out of the pressure they are immediately a threat.

“Immediately passes in the centre and we had to put a lot of players, obviously, on the wing to try to win the ball. If you don’t win the ball there then obviously you are all of a sudden in between everything and we did that most of the time really well.

“So 2-0, half-time, no more, no less.”