Liverpool have already landed 'perfect signing' to replace Mane - pundit
Noel Whelan has insisted Liverpool do not need to worry about losing Sadio Mane for the African Cup Of Nations thanks to the form of Diogo Jota.
The former Leeds striker, speaking exclusively to Football Insider, suggested the Portuguese forward could replace his Senegalese teammate on the left-hand side of the front three.
As quoted by the Daily Mail on Friday (3 December), Jurgen Klopp admitted he hopes to strike deals to keep Mane and Mohamed Salah for the Reds’ clash with Chelsea on 2 January.
However, he insisted nothing is “written in stone”.
Mane’s Senegal are set to kick off their AFCON campaign on 10 January.
Whelan insisted Jota, who has been playing as a centre-forward in Roberto Firmino’s absence, could end up filling the void left by Mane.
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“When they signed Jota, I thought he’s the perfect signing for Liverpool, the man to step in for Mane,” Whelan told Football Insider’s Russell Edge.
“I thought it was a very shrewd signing, perfect for the style of play that they play at Anfield. For very little money really, when you think about the quality of player.
“Not only is he doing it for Liverpool, he’s doing it for Portugal as well. He’s going to become very important but he seems to be in a good place, full of confidence.
“He scores all kinds of different goals. Outside the box, inside the box, he can assist. With him, Firmino and Divock Origi, you’ve still got three very, very top-class strikers there.
“They’ve got a very strong squad. Yes, you’re going to be missing two very, very important chess pieces for Jurgen Klopp.
“But when you’ve got people like Jota for Mane, Firmino for Jota and Origi waiting in the wings, you still won’t be too disappointed with that front three.”
Jota has scored nine goals in 17 appearances across all competitions for Liverpool.
Mane has netted the same number as the Portugal international in 19 games for the Reds.