Klopp tells Mane to 'pay back with football' if teams target him

Liverpool forward has been on the receiving end of rough treatment for a long time, says Klopp

Liverpool's Sadio Mane in action during the Champions League match against Porto. EPA

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp urged forward Sadio Mane to control his emotions when opponents try to wind him up and "pay them back" with the quality of his football.

Klopp was involved in an ugly altercation with Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta during Liverpool's 4-0 win last weekend after the Arsenal bench appealed for action to be taken against Mane for his aerial challenge on Takehiro Tomiyasu.

Klopp said opposition players often try to antagonise Mane, who has scored nine goals for Liverpool in 17 games in all competitions this season.

"It has been a thing for much longer," Klopp told British media on Friday. "Even when it was not obvious to the outside, you can see it in games that they go for him because they want to wind him up.

"But it is two different things; one is to make Sadio really aggressive during the game, we saw that against Flamengo in the [2019] Club World Cup final.

"Rafinha wanted to go for him after he caused them some problems when we played Bayern [Munich] in the Champions League [in 2019]. It was obvious from the first second when he went in really hard."

Klopp said he has spoken to Mane about how to deal with such situations.

"Sadio is now of an age where he is not that emotional anymore. But we all need emotions obviously and sometimes we control them better and sometimes less," Klopp added.

"We've had these talks ... The headline [from our discussions] is: 'We pay back with football. Whatever we do, we pay them back with football."

Liverpool host Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday.

Southampton's Mohammed Salisu. AP Photo

Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl sees “no reason” why Saints centre-back Mohammed Salisu cannot become as accomplished as Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk.

Ghanaian Salisu this week hailed former Saints defender Van Dijk as one of the world’s best defenders and revealed his aspirations of reaching the same level.

Netherlands international Van Dijk left the south coast for £75 million in January 2018 and has since won the Champions League and Premier League with Liverpool.

The pair will be on opposing sides on Saturday afternoon when their clubs meet at Anfield.

After a slow start to life in England following his 2020 summer move from Spanish club Real Valladolid, Salisu has become increasingly influential at St Mary’s, starting all but one of 12 top-flight games this term.

“It shows you how much he had to learn that it took so long until he was an option for the starting XI,” said Saints boss Hasenhuttl.

“Especially with the ball, he can develop massively.

“When you speak about Van Dijk with his long balls and his calmness on the ball, he still has a way to go. But there’s no reason why he couldn’t learn it.

“A good thing is that in the centre-back position, the older you get, the better you get because of the more experience you get.

“This is definitely a player that showed this season that he deserved to play from the beginning and I’m very happy with his progress.”

Liverpool v Porto ratings

Updated: November 27th 2021, 7:47 AM