Riyad Mahrez tips Liverpool's Sadio Mane for big awards
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JOHANNESBURG - Finally it’s championship delight for Africa’s finest at Liverpool.
It had been 30 years since Liverpool last won the English top-flight title.
And it wasn’t surprising that Liverpool’s return to the top was led by a pair of Africans destined to become continental greats - Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.
In his debut season at the club, winning the PFA Player of the Season and Golden Boot award with 32 league goals.
But despite Liverpool going on to win their last seven matches to finish the season with 97 points, defending champions Manchester City had done enough to wrap up the title by one point.
Amid the disappointment, coach Jurgen Klopp’s optimism and never-say-die attitude still reigned at Anfield with the final of the Uefa Champions League, against Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur, still to be played in Madrid.
It was on that night at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium that signs of a winning mentality prevailed for the Merseyside club as they ran out 2-0 victors.
But the Champions League was not the big fish for Liverpool and their patient supporters - they wanted the Premier League title.
Klopp led from the front by not trying to fix something that wasn't broken as he made just a handful of signings, including goalkeeper Adrian and striker Takumi Minamino.
But again, the contribution of Salah and Mane appears to have made the difference as the Reds last week clinched their first top-flight title since 1990.
Salah is currently on 17 league goals and seven assists, while reigning African Footballer of the Year Mane has scored 15 goals and registered nine assists.
Given that the duo have stood head and shoulders above the majority of their counterparts in the Premier League , Europe and Africa this season, they are on the verge of making a third successive podium appearance in the Caf annual awards early next year.
To add to that, one of the two Liverpool stalwarts has already been tipped to win the PFA Footballer of the Season award by a continental compatriot, Manchester City midfielder Riyad Mahrez, who captains Algeria.
“I think it should be Mane. He’s not a player of too many skills but he’s efficient. He scores goals, like Salah. When he was at Southampton he was good, but he wasn’t as good as now,” Mahrez said when asked by BT Sport for his choice as reported by Metro.
“He’s improved a lot technically and in front of goal. He scores a lot of goals now because he's improved a lot. So yeah, I think this year it should be him.”