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Mane named CAF Player of the Year

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Sadio Mane has bragging rights for at least the year over his club teammate, and fellow African, Mohamed Salah.

On Tuesday, the Confederation of African Football voted Mane as the African Player of the Year for 2019, his first continental individual award. Mane beat out Salah (Egypt), who had won the previous two seasons and Algerian and Manchester City midfielder Riyad Mahrez. Interestingly, it’s the first win for a Senegalese player since El Hadji Diouf won it in 2002, shortly after joining Liverpool, Mane’s current club.

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“I’m very happy and proud to win this award,” Mane said, per the CAF. “I thank my teammates at the Senegal national team and also my club, Liverpool for their support.”

Mane’s had a heck of a last 18 months or so. He finished tied for the Premier League Golden Boot with 22 goals and also won the UEFA Champions League and the Golden Boot for that competition in 2019. Then he followed that up by leading Senegal to the African Cup of Nations final, and so far this year, he’s got 11 goals in 18 Premier League matches as the Reds are way ahead in the race for the league title.
In addition to Mane, Salah, and Mahrez, Liverpool’s Joel Matip, Tottenham’s Serge Aurier, and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were all named to the CAF Best XI for 2019. Former Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye was also named to the list.

Salah, Alisson and others returning to Liverpool this week

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Despite Liverpool’s poor run of results during the preseason, Jurgen Klopp says he’s not very concerned.

That’s because Liverpool, more than most other teams it seems this year, has been without a dozen key players all preseason, and others who arrived a week or two late after international duty following the Premier League season. However, that all changes on Monday.

Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino, Alisson, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri are all returning to preseason work as Liverpool heads to Evian, France to continue warm-weather training. Liverpool has just a week before facing Manchester City in the FA Community Shield, and then another week before the start of the season. It’s unlikely that the quintet returning this week – with Sadio Mane set to return next week – will be ready to go for the start of the Premier League season, but it can potentially give the team a mental lift to see many of the team’s stars back in the squad for daily training sessions.

​“The lads coming back, even if they don’t play, it gives you a lift when they train and with the way they go about their business,” Liverpool left back Andy Robertson told the club’s website. “It doesn’t matter if they play on Wednesday or not, that’s completely up to the manager three days in, but that’s irrelevant: if they’re back in training and back around the place then it makes a difference.

“Mo and Bobby are two of our main men and Alisson was magnificent last season. They are huge characters in the changing room as well so that’ll be massive for us, and then Sadio will come back the following week. Once we get the whole team back together, and I think Shaq and Naby aren’t far off too, they’re players that are familiar around the set-up and around the system and that’s what we need. The quicker we get all of us back together then hopefully the better.”

Without many of the top attackers, some young players for Liverpool have been playing plenty. Aside from players like Divock Origi and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain building fitness, Harry Wilson and Rhian Brewster have received regular minutes. In addition, new signings Harvey Elliot, who just signed officially for Liverpool in the morning, and summer signing Sepp van den Berg each saw the field against Napoli. While they likely won’t play much this Premier League season, they may be called upon to at least be on the bench early on.

Klopp referred to this preseason, with so many stars missing, as a strange one.

“It’s kind of a new situation, but that’s not the reason what’s happened,” Klopp said. “Missing six players is strange. That you lose players during a pre-season, we are used to – that happened from time to time. But that they don’t start from the beginning and come a couple of days before or after we start with the season is not cool. Again, that’s how it is and we prepared everybody as good as possible. We have to fight the start of the season 100 per cent with all we have. The good thing is, if the opponents want to analyse us now, they think ‘easy job’, but we will be a different animal next week.”

Salah, Ronaldo and Modric on UEFA Player of Year shortlist

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Mohamed Salah‘s magical season for Liverpool could help him usurp what had been a hegemony at the top of UEFA’s yearly awards.

[READ: Morata admits to struggles in Conte’s system]

Salah, along with former teammates Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Modric were all nominated for UEFA’s Player of the Year award. Salah led Liverpool to an improbable run to the Champions League final, scoring 10 goals and dishing out five assists in 13 Champions League matches.

Ronaldo of course won his third-straight Champions League title last season and fifth overall while leading all goalscorers in the competition for the sixth-straight season. And Modric, starring for Real Madrid along with Ronaldo before the latter left for Juventus, won his third-straight title and led Croatia to the World Cup final in Russia.

Here’s the rest of the top 10. The Men’s Player of the Year, along with Women’s Player of the Year and Champions League Best XI will be announced on August 30. Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have combined to win the last four awards.

4. Antoine Griezmann (Atlético & France) – 72 points
5. Lionel Messi (Barcelona & Argentina) – 55 points
6. Kylian Mbappé (Paris & France) – 43 points
7. Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City & Belgium) – 28 points
8. Raphaël Varane (Real Madrid & France) – 23 points
9. Eden Hazard (Chelsea & Belgium) – 15 points
10. Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid & Spain) – 12 points

Report: Liverpool to resist all offers for Salah

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Liverpool has a message for any club looking to sign Mohamed Salah this summer: Not gonna happen.

The Merseyside club has reportedly said it will “not sell Salah under any circumstances this summer” as the Reds look to hold off the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona, according to The Telegraph. Salah’s four-goal tally against Watford on Saturday took his goal total to an incredible 28 in 32 Premier League games, with another seven goals in cup competitions.

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Liverpool famously kept Barcelona – and Arsenal – off Luis Suarez after the Uruguayan striker wanted to leave in 2013, but Liverpool was only able to stop Barcelona from signing Philippe Coutinho for six months.

As things stand, Liverpool are qualified for the 2018-2019 UEFA Champions League with the club sitting in a top four Premier League place, and keeping Salah is absolutely vital if the Reds want to make a deep run in the competition and compete for a Premier League title. It remains to be seen though if Salah is happy to stay at Liverpool or if a big-money offer from Spain or France can tempt him otherwise to set himself and his family financially for life.

UCL Playoff Wrap: Liverpool, Sporting CP, CSKA advance to group stage

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It was another memorable European night for Liverpool in front of the Kop at Anfield.

Lifted by three goals in the opening 21 minutes, the Reds cruised to a 4-2 win over Hoffenheim 1899 in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League playoff stage Wednesday evening. With the win, Liverpool returns to the Champions League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.

[ MORE: Champions League scores ]

Sadio Mane set up Emre Can twice and both Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino chipped in with goals of their own to lead Liverpool to victory. After Can’s double and Salah’s goal gave Liverpool a three-goal lead, Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsmann brought Mark Uth off the bench onto the field and he promptly scored in the 28th minute to draw within two.

Firmino again put Liverpool ahead by three goals with a goal into an open net in the 63rd minute. Hoffenheim recorded a consolation goal in the 79th minute through Sandro Wagner but Liverpool was resolute and held on for victory.

Liverpool, and the rest of the winning clubs, will learn their fates for the group stage on Thursday.

Here’s a look at the rest of the Champions League playoff scores:

Slavia Prague 0-0 APOEL (APOEL advances 2-0 on aggregate)

FC Copenhagen 2-1 Qarabag FK (Qarabag advances on away goals, 2-2 on aggregate)

FCSB (Steaua București) 1-5 Sporting CP (Sporting CP advances 5-1 on aggregate)

CSKA Moscow 2-0 BSC Young Boys (CSKA advances on aggregate, 3-0)