Sadio Mane

Lampard: Pulisic can reach Sterling, Salah, Mane level

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Christian Pulisic can reach the levels of Raheem Sterling, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.

That is what Chelsea boss Frank Lampard believes, mentioning those superstar wingers unprompted when discussing Pulisic’s potential.

Lampard heaped praise on Pulisic, 21, after his superb goal in Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Man City on Thursday, as the USMNT star has scored in each of his first two games of the Premier League restart and is making up for lost time after being out injured since Jan. 1.

[ RELATED: Liverpool win title – everything to know ]

ProSoccerTalk asked Lampard about Pulisic via Zoom following the American’s man of the match display against Man City, specifically asking about his recent goalscoring exploits and how big of a player he can become in the years to come.

“I think he can become a really big player,” Lampard said. “When you look at his age, because he broke through at such a young age in Germany, and he moves to us and people, their expectations rise. We have to take his age into consideration but there’s no doubting the quality. We can see that. He’s very keen to improve and to work, and he’s particularly hungry at the minute because he missed some time with his injury.

“If he wants to learn, and he does, then on the training pitch and how he sees the game and if he looks around him and sees the players around him that have made that sort of a jump. He has the ability of the Raheem Sterling’s who are producing numbers from wide areas, the Mo Salah’s and Mane’s. It’s important he understands the work that needs to be done to do that because he definitely has the talent to do that. He needs to try and get to that level. I’m delighted to have him at the minute. He works hard every day and he has to set his sights as high as he possibly can.”

Pulisic has now scored seven goals in the Premier League this season and his debut season in England has gone from strength to strength after a slow start.

Left out of the Chelsea team in September and October, Pulisic told ProSoccerTalk it was ‘very frustrating’ but the American winger kicked on during the winter months before injury strike him in January and he had only just recovered in March when the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

These words from Lampard show just how highly he is rated at Chelsea and adding goals and assists to his game was the final part of the jigsaw as his previous highest goals tally in a season was seven before 2019-20. He has eight goals in all competitions so far and he looks likely to hit double figures considering his current form and Chelsea still being in both the FA Cup and Champions League.

Lampard, the highest-scoring midfielder in Premier League history, knows all about timing runs from midfield and finishing and he told us he is working one-on-one with Pulisic to improve that side of his game. Getting to the levels of Sterling, Mane and Salah will not be easy but Pulisic will be pushed all the way by Lampard and Chelsea and that is exactly what he needs.

Pulisic has stiff competition just to get into the team at Chelsea as it is right now and with Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech arriving for the 2020-21 season, it will get even tougher. That is bringing out the best in the Pennsylvanian Messi.

Doing what he’s doing at the age of 21, is it possible that Pulisic could surpass Mane, Salah and Sterling?

Liverpool on brink after blasting Palace

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Liverpool can win the Premier League from its proverbial coach on Thursday after a 4-0 defeat of Crystal Palace at Anfield on Wednesday.

Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Fabinho, and Trent Alexander-Arnold all scored in the blowout, with Salah, Fabinho, and Andy Robertson collecting assists.

[ MORE: Full PL TV schedule ]  

The Reds’ 86 points are 23 points ahead of Man City, who can only gain 24 points more this season and visit Chelsea on Thursday.

LIVERPOOL – CRYSTAL PALACE FULL MATCH REPLAY

Palace fails in a bid to improve its top seven stock and remains ninth with 42 points.


Three things we learned

1. On TAArget: Trent Alexander-Arnold didn’t have much luck with a number of chances from dead balls in the Merseyside Derby but made amends in the 23rd minute with a sensational spinning free kick you’d put against most others. Wayne Hennessey had little chance on the effort for 1-0.

2. Salah getting golden: Both Salah and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have 17 goals this season, two back of Leicester City’s Jamie Vardy. And what a goal it was (and pass by our Man of the Match).

3. When will Liverpool win the title?: If Man City beats Chelsea on Thursday, the Reds will have to wait until at least July 2 to win the Premier League. That match is at City and a draw would do the trick. If City wins, Liverpool’s next chance is July 5 at Aston Villa. A win or City draw/loss at Southampton would do the trick then.

Man of the Match

Fabinho —The Brazilian midfielder was one of Liverpool’s standouts in the edgy Merseyside Derby draw, and he was again on the money in a win with a beautiful assist and a venomous goal.

His pass to set up Salah’s goal was marvelous, showcasing a part of his game we don’t always get to see in focus due to his role in Jurgen Klopp’s XI. The goal, well, wow.

Remember: Fabinho regularly chipped in for double-digit combined goals and assists during his time with Monaco in Ligue 1.


Liverpool – Crystal Palace recap

Palace man Andros Townsend nearly assisted an early Liverpool opener only for Georginio Wijnaldum to rocket a shot wide of the frame.

Alexander-Arnold took his free kick with pinpoint accuracy to produce a wondrous opener.

Jordan Henderson volleyed a chance off the post minutes later and Palace blocked and cleared the rebound. Liverpool was ready to explode.

Palace allowed us to prove the existence of Alisson Becker and the Liverpool half of the pitch when Max Meyer took advantage of a Joe Gomez flub and carried the ball toward the 18 before curling wide.

VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Salah made it 2-0 with his 17th PL goal of the season. Fabinho’s inch-perfect pass over the leaping Patrick van Aanholt found the Egyptian who dribbled toward the far post before cutting his shot inside the near one. Beautiful football.

Fabinho made it 3-0 in the 55th with a strike with maximum power.

Roberto Firmino, Mane, and Salah have combined for a lot of goals, but rarely have two of the players been in so deep to make their contributions. Firmino spotted Salah at the half line, and the Egyptian found Mane’s run in style.

Liverpool’s four-goal lead could’ve become five a few times, with Salah seeing a chance blocked and Neco Williams one saved.

Premier League Golden Boot race

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Will England have a new name on an illustrious list when the Premier League Golden Boot race is run next month?

Every winner since the 2014-15 season is still within a rich vein of form from renewed acquaintances. with the honor, but six of the league’s top ten scorers would be first time top dogs on the PL season goals list.

[ MORE: Werner to Chelsea official ]

That includes the leader, Jamie Vardy. The next three names on the list are Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mohamed Salah, and Sergio Aguero, and they all have a Golden Boot in their lockers.


Jamie Vardy, Leicester City (19)

As Vardy goes, so do the Foxes. He scored at least one goal in every match of Leicester’s eight-match winning streak this fall but his brace against Villa on March 9 was his lone appearance on the dance card since the calendar turned to 2020. Four of Vardy’s goals have been penalties, so he’s got that going for him if the VAR is kind to Leicester.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal (17)

Aubameyang isn’t having his best year, no doubt down to some inconsistency from his playing partners. Arsenal still faces three of four PL clubs to have conceded 50 or more goals this season.

Mohammed Salah, Liverpool, and Sergio Aguero, Man City (16)

Aguero has won this award before and he’s among the favorites to do it again given he’s three goals from the top despite playing at least 800 fewer minutes then the men level or ahead of him.

Throw in the fact that City’s 76 expected goals are 14 higher than the field and you’ve got the recipe for something special. Aguero and teammate Gabriel Jesus are the runaway leaders for xG/90 amongst qualified players.

Salah’s been very good since the start of December, scoring 10 of his goals and adding three assists in that span. He’s the league leader in expected goals (15.54) just ahead of snakebit teammate Roberto Firmino (15.49 xG, 8 goals).

Danny Ings, Southampton (15)

Like Vardy, it would be silly to rule out the clear target man for a Premier League club. Ings has only scored once in his last seven as Saints hit a rough patch before the coronavirus pause, but maybe time’s healed his form.

Marcus Rashford, Man Utd, and Sadio Mane, Liverpool (14)

Rashford has been a monster when healthy and trails only Aguero and Jesus in xG per game. He’s also United’s penalty taker so there’s that.

Mane’s a powerful force but he’s also in the business of sharing goals at Liverpool. It’s difficult to project him winning the Premier League Golden Boot race.

The field (13 or fewer)

13 goals
Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Everton
Raul Jimenez, Wolves
Tammy Abraham, Chelsea

12 goals
Raheem Sterling, Man City

11 goals
Anthony Martial, Man Utd
Chris Wood, Burnley
Harry Kane, Spurs
Teemu Pukki, Norwich City

10. goals
Gabriel Jesus, Man City
Richarlison, Everton

Report: Sadio Mane to Real Madrid for $190 million

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Sadio Mane has been linked with a $190 million move from Liverpool to Real Madrid.

Mane, 28, has been Liverpool’s star attacker this season and has 16 goals in all competitions after an incredible start to the campaign.

Multiple reports state that Real Madrid are willing to pay close to $200 million for Mane this summer and although Liverpool do not want to sell their Senegalese star, it could be key in signing Kylian Mbappe.

Jurgen Klopp has previously stated that Liverpool could not afford to sign Mbappe, 21, from Paris Saint-Germain but if they sell Mane, they’d probably need to spend $250 million (an extra $60 million) to replace him with Mbappe. The French superstar is certainly keen on Liverpool, which helps.

As for Real’s interest in Mane, that dates back by at least a few years as Zinedine Zidane is a huge fan and there’s no doubt the lure of the Santiago Bernabeu is stronger with Zizou in charge.

If Liverpool go on to win the 2019-20 Premier League title, as they are certain to do once the season resumes, is that a good time for Klopp and Liverpool to cash in on certain players to rebuild their squad? Just like they did in selling Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for $200 million in January 2018, that allowed them to buy Alisson and Virgil van Dijk to significantly upgrade their defensive unit.

Would selling Mane allow them to bring in Mbappe and maybe even improve their central midfield area?

Given Mane’s incredible form since arriving from Southampton in the summer of 2016 for $40 million — he has scored 59 goals in 118 Premier League appearances — it would be very tough for Klopp to sell him. His pace and trickery perfectly compliments Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino in Liverpool’s front three and breaking up that trio would be a very brave move.

That said, Liverpool and Klopp were critcized for letting Coutinho leave at the peak of his value and that worked out pretty well.

As harsh as it sounds on Mane, selling him to Real this summer in order to sign Mbappe would be the smart play here.

Atleti ends Liverpool hopes of UCL repeat

Liverpool
Photo by John Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images
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Marcos Llorente scored twice in extra time, the first off an extra-time blunder from Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian, as Atletico Madrid knocked the reigning champions out of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.

The match finished 3-2 to Atleti, 4-2 on aggregate, as Alvaro Morata scored late to pour salt in Liverpool’s wounds.

[ MORE: Klopp, Milner react | Simeone, too ]

The Reds forgot their finishing boots on a dominant day, out-attempting Diego Simeone’s visitors 34-9. Atleti goalkeeper Jan Oblak made nine saves.

Roberto Firmino’s goal in the fourth minute of extra time joined Georginio Wijnaldum‘s first-half goal to give Liverpool an advantage it held for less than two minutes.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]


Three things we learned

1. Gini and The Ox run the show, but miserable finishing kills Reds: Wijnaldum and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain rewarded Jurgen Klopp for his risk of removing off-kilter star Fabinho from the Starting XI. The pair teamed up on the opening goal but it was more than that that earned them headlines. Wijnaldum was the best player not named Jan Oblak in the first half, while Oxlade-Chamberlain was a menace to Atleti’s midfielders in the second frame. While Jordan Henderson was understandably a bit rusty at times, his center midfield mates delivered the goods.

That said, Liverpool’s finishing was a combination of truly poor and terribly unlucky. Even when the Reds went ahead in stoppage time, it was Firmino cashing in a rebound after his first shot toward a gaping half of the goal hit the post. Robertson headed off the cross bar. Mohamed Salah shot ball after the ball almost directly to Jan Oblak or over the goal. This won’t go down as “Atleti is so hard to break down,” though Simeone’s men obviously are a tough team; The Reds just didn’t finish enough of their many, many chances.

2. Oblak almost everywhere: Not sure where exactly the joke is here, but Atletico Madrid’s goalkeeper blocked nearly everything that came his way, inspiring “Oh” and “Oh” from the Anfield faithful. The Slovenian shot-stopper

3. Adrian gives it away: Spanish keeper Adrian had very little to do on the day in filling in for the injured Alisson Becker, but ultimately will go down as the man responsible for Liverpool’s failure to defend its UCL crown. He made three saves on the day, but his poor pass up the middle of the pitch to Joao Felix will be what everyone remembers as Liverpool again loses a big UCL match due to a goalkeeper error (and terrible finishing).

Man of the Match: It’s Oblak. Yes, Llorente scored twice. Sure, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wijnaldum were incredible. But the Slovenian commanded his box in the face of extreme adversity and congestion.


Liverpool entered the match with predictable vigor, Jan Oblak’s first duty coming off a Georginio Wijnaldum header of a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross.

Atleti found its footing soon after, Kieran Trippier unable to turn a long diagonal ball off a free kick back toward goal.

Salah tempted the frame with a 20-yard attempt in the 10th minute, and Oblak made a sprawling denial of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain four minutes later.

Atleti won a corner in the 17th, but Felipe nodded short of the near post.

Salah took advantage of a Renan Lodi slip to cue up Sadio Mane, but his bounding shot was blocked and collected by Oblak.

The Atleti keeper then made a fantastic save on Roberto Firmino after an incisive Alexander-Arnold cross.

Wijnaldum leveled the tie in the 43rd minute, and the goal had been coming. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s cross found a wide-open Wijnaldum at the spot for a powered-down header that bounced past Oblak.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Salah stung Oblak’s palms early in the second half, and the Atleti keeper stopped an offside Mane with a fantastic left-hand save in the 50th.

Oblak got low to palm away an Oxlade-Chamberlain drive, conceding a corner.

Joao Felix had a chance out of nothing, and Adrian bumbled the ball but saved his error by blocking Correa’s chop at the rebound.

Robertson was celebrating a would-be go-ahead goal off a Salah cross, but it hit the cross bar in the 67th minute. Oblak made another fine save before the rebound was blocked by a defender.

An 81st-minute corner routine set up Robertson for glory, but he blazed clear of the frame from 18 yards.

Wijnaldum couldn’t finish with a back post header off a James Milner cross, and Mane smashed an overhead kick over the bar.

Saul Niguez was offside when he headed a stoppage-time free kick home, and the match moved to extra time.

Oblak made another save to start stoppage time, his ninth of the match. Firmino then took his rebound off the post to make it 2-0.

But wait, Atleti had an answer when Adrian’s clearance went right to Joao Felix. A few touches later it was 2-1 through Llorente’s low drive, and he added another through a well-worked counterattack to stun the reigning champs.

Morata blazed past the Liverpool back line to seal the result deep in the second period of extra time.