Saturday Mar 06, 2021. 10:00
Former Liverpool forward Michael Owen has a bizarre theory as to why Sadio Mane is reluctant to go down in the penalty area.
The Senegal international has been contacted in the box in both of Liverpool’s last two matches, but on both occasions he chose to remain on his feet in an attempt to score himself.
Mane was challenged by Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger in the area in Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat at Anfield on Thursday evening, but instead of falling to the ground, he chose to stay on his feet and while it may be honourable, Owen believes he did so because Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah is the club’s designated penalty taker and not him.
“I couldn’t believe he didn’t go down there and look, I’m not advocating he does,” Owen said on Optus Sport as quoted by multiple media outlets.
“It was a great touch and he possibly thought he might get a chance at the end of it … but he did something similar a week ago [against Sheffield United].
“I just wonder, and it might be a little bit of devious thoughts creeping into my head, Mo Salah is the penalty taker in this team, and if he (Mane) thinks he’s getting a chance to score he thinks ‘well I’m going to score, if I don’t stay on my feet, Mo Salah’s going to get another penalty.
Owen added: “These players have been going for the golden boot for the past couple of seasons. It might be a wild sort of theory, but the competitive nature of him and Mo Salah. We’ve seen them not passing to each other when one of them is in a much better position to the other.
“We’re seeing a little bit of selfishness, we’re seeing a little bit of disgruntled behaviour – Mo Salah shaking his head [when he was subbed off].
“I just think a couple of times there, I’ve seen Mane go down for those kind of opportunities… and (to not do it) two games on the spin? It just made me think a little bit.”
Mane and Salah shared the Premier League golden boot award with fellow African Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after scoring 22 goals apiece in the 2018-19 season.
Salah currently sits top of the scoring charts for the 2020-21 campaign having netted 17 times so far while Mane has seven league goals to his name this season.