Reds face fresh fight with La Liga giants after Coutinho battle as Barca switch attention to Senegal ace Mane who has started the season on fire
LIVERPOOL are facing a fresh transfer battle with Barcelona – but this time over striker Sadio Mane.
The Reds were locked in a fight all summer to keep hold of Philippe Coutinho amid a series of huge bids from Barca for the Brazilian star.
But now they are bracing themselves for yet more unwanted advances from the Spanish giants after Mane hit their radar following his explosive start to the season.
The 25-year-old has been in stunning form for Liverpool with three goals already this campaign and many now feel he is more important to Jurgen Klopp’s side than Coutinho.
And the Mirror say his continued improvement since moving to Anfield from Southampton has caught the eye of several clubs across Europe – including Barcelona.
Real Madrid and Juventus are other sides who are understood to be getting regular reports on the pacy forward who moved to Liverpool in a £34million in 2016.
When Mane first moved to the Reds there were some doubts whether he had the all-round game to make the step up to the very highest level.
But he took to the step up with ease, scoring 13 league goals last season and being named Liverpool’s player of the year – even though he missed the last part of the season through injury.
With Coutinho missing the opening month of the campaign with a back injury while Barcelona attempted to sign him through August, there were concerns Liverpool would struggle.
But mane emerged as their driving force with a series of impressive displays which showed why he is now one of the most feared forwards in the top flight.
He missed yesterday’s 1-1 draw with Burnley through suspension, the first of a three-match ban for his controversial sending-off against Manchester City.
And his absence was keenly felt as the Reds struggled to find a cutting edge at Anfield and lost more ground in the race for the title.
Barca made four bids for Coutinho last month, going as high as £138million but finding Liverpool in no mood to sell their playmaker.
And having reached an impasse in their attempts to sign the 25-year-old, there is a feeling they may have more success if they turn their attentions to Mane.
Liverpool believe they have made a statement of their strength by managing to see of Barcelona’s advances last month.
But the saga proved a major distraction to Klopp and his side with Coutinho declaring himself unfit to play while his future was resolved.
And they will be desperate to avoid a repeat next summer with Mane, who has rapidly emerged as the key player in this Liverpool squad.
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