Jürgen Klopp told Sadio Mané to control his emotions when provoked by opponents and “pay them back with football”. The Liverpool manager believes opposition players regularly try to upset the striker and was embroiled in a furious row with Mikel Arteta last weekend after the Arsenal bench asked for a card when Mané caught Takehiro Tomiyasu.
Klopp admits he spoke to the Senegalese international about not taking the hook and is confident the advice was heeded. “It’s been a thing for a lot longer,” Klopp said. “Even when it wasn’t easy on the outside. You can see it in the games that they are going for it because they want to liquidate it.
“But these are two different things. One is to make Sadio really aggressive during the match. We saw it against Flamengo in the final of the Club World Cup. Rafinha wanted to go for him after he caused them problems when we faced Bayern in the Champions League. It was obvious from the first second when he came in very hard.
“Sadio is now at an age where he is much better at [dealing with] this; is no longer so emotional. We all need emotions, obviously, and sometimes we control them better and sometimes less and yes we’ve had those talks, but I really don’t think that has anything to do with the situation against Arsenal. It was next to nothing, a normal challenge.
“With Real Madrid it was obvious and against Atlético Madrid it was pretty much obvious – they had the red card and right after a player fell and did more. [of a challenge] just to make sure they get our player sent off or a yellow card. This is what I was talking about. The title [from their discussions] it is: “We repay with football. Whatever we do, we pay them back with the football.
Mané will face his former club Southampton on Saturday after scoring in his last four Premier League appearances at Anfield and nine times this season. As with Mohamed Salah, Klopp believes the striker is reaping the rewards of an extended break and pre-season.
“Sadio is a very confident person and we all felt it on the first day of the preseason, after a proper break, that he was 100% there,” he said. “It was clear. It was obvious that if he was lucky with injuries it would be a very good season for him because that is the quality he has. And that’s what he’s showing now.
“I can’t say enough how important it is for these players to have a good break. I will talk about it for the next 20 years but the authorities will not change anything. But this year Mo and Sadio have had a real break and for now, so far, we are enjoying it. “