Southampton’s Sadio Mane showing huge improvement in second season

Sadio Mane of Southampton scores his team's second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Southampton at Stamford Bridge on October 3, 2015 in London, United Kingdom.

After an inconsistent first season in the Premier League, Sadio Mane is proving himself as an elite Premier League attacker this year.

There were plenty of good times during Sadio Mane’s first season with Southampton. The Senegal international broke Robbie Fowler’s long standing record for the quickest hat-trick ever scored in a Premier League game, finishing the season in double figures despite missing time for the African Cup of Nations.

Nonetheless, there was both surprise and even a little mockery when Manchester United were reported to have bid for the 23 year old. The consensus among fans and press was that Mane was too inconsistent for a top four club.

While that perception failed to acknowledge the marked improvement the player had made over the course of last year, United’s interest did seem a little premature based on what we had seen. However, this season has shown exactly why Louis van Gaal was keen to bring him to Old Trafford, with the former Salzburg winger emerging as one the best attacking midfielders in the Premier League.

His goal against Chelsea – his first of the season – showcased both his pace and his improved composure in front of goal. He has also provided four assists for team mates this season, one more than he managed the whole of last term.

After some questionable early games last season, Mane has developed into a quality player at a rapid rate. He is creating chances for team mates at a rate of one ever 46.1 minutes, and has increased his attempts on goal to 2.9 per game (up from 2 per game last year). Such figures suggest that we can expect an increase on last year’s goal tally to coincide with the clear improvement in his creative end product.

Mane’s importance is not limited to his own statistics. His performances have helped propel Graziano Pelle to 2nd in the Premier League goal scoring charts with six, and guided Southampton to the fourth best overall scoring record. Getting him in your line up for Gameweek 9 could provide a similar boost to your fantasy team.

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