Liverpool’s £37million addition of striker Luis Diaz from Porto in January added an element of uncertainty to the immediate futures of both Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane - whose respective contracts expire in 2023. But both have responded with aplomb and reminded the manager, fans, and pundits of their worth - yet again.
The Colombian has added yet more depth - and goals - to an already fruitful forward line, but the noticeable improvements in Firmino and Mane's performances are there for all to see too.
Prior to Diaz’s arrival, for example, Firmino had netted just once in his previous 13 appearances for the Reds in all competitions.
However, since Diaz signed the five-and-a-half-year deal with the Reds in late January the Brazilian has scored four goals in nine matches - including a brace in the Reds’ 3-3 draw with Benfica in the quarter-final of the Champions League at Anfield this month.
The motivation of fighting for another couple of years in the top flight has also seen an improvement in Mane’s output over the last 11 weeks.
The Senegalese winger's goal contributions was steadily on the decline; he won the golden boot with 22 league goals in 2020, followed it up with 18 goals the season after, and just 11 in the last campaign.
However, six goals in his previous nine league matches since the Colombian's arrival has brought the Africa Cup of Nations winner's league total up to 14 with five games still to play.
It had taken Mane 14 matches to score his previous five league goals prior to Diaz’s move to the Reds. A brace in the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City last weekend is further evidence of the number 10’s growing confidence of late.
Firmino will have been at Liverpool for six years come June and has been linked to Bayern Munich and Barcelona in recent seasons.
Likewise, Mane is approaching the completion of his fifth year at the Reds and will be motivated further with an outside chance of winning the Ballon D’or after guiding Senegal to their first ever AFCON victory.
The Diaz signing is a potential indication that at least one of the five Reds star forward could be on their way out soon.
Both Firmino and Mane will be able to negotiate with new clubs come January 2023 if their futures remain unclear, so their performances in the coming months will be crucial if they want to remain in a Reds shirt beyond next summer.
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