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Transfer Battle: Son Heung-Min vs Sadio Mane

Liverpool head to Wembley Saturday lunchtime when the Premier League returns to take on Tottenham in a game where a host of attacking talents will be on display from both sides including Sadio Mane.

Mane, however, is unlikely to be joined on the pitch by Son Heung-Min with the Tottenham man having only completed his international duties with South Korea in the Asian Games.

Son helped lead South Korea to gold in the tournament after beating Japan 2-1 in the final, and the 26-year-old has now been exempt from having to do 21 months of national service, as a result.

Both Son and Mane have made major impacts at their clubs since arriving, and there is no doubt that either one has the potential to be a match-winner on Saturday if included in the matchday squads.

So just how do the two compare?

Son Heung-Min

For Son, it was a slow start to life at Tottenham following his arrival from Bayern Leverkusen back in 2015.

Outside of Tottenham’s Europa League campaign, Son really struggled, managing to register just four goals in 28 league appearances.

Son’s difficulty to adapt to the Premier League saw him linked with a move away from White Hart Lane after just one season (via Evening Standard) but, the former Bayern Leverkusen man opted to remain in north London in what has become a great decision for both him and Tottenham.

In his second season at the club, Son started displaying the form he had showed in the Bundesliga with Bayern Leverkusen and Hamburger SV.

In Germany, Son had been great at running in behind defenders and into spaces — be it from the left wing or up front — before arriving in the box to slot past the goalkeeper.

Tottenham, of course, do not have the best of memories from that campaign having missed out on the Premier League title to London rivals Chelsea. However, individually, it was a campaign Son can look back on with pride after he scored a total of 14 Premier League goals in 34 appearances.

Ultimately, Son had finally found his goal-scoring touch at Tottenham and carried it into the 2017/18 season which followed, managing to reach double figures again.

As things stand, though, with they way Lucas Moura is playing, Son may find it difficult to instantly regain his spot back in the team. But, nevertheless, he has been a fantastic addition to Mauricio Pochettino’s squad and one that will continue to offer plenty on the pitch.

TT Grade: B+

Sadio Mane

There was much scrutiny surrounding Mane’s move to Anfield back in the summer of 2016 with many believing the £36m (via Sky Sports) Liverpool forked out on him was unjustified.

The 26-year-old was fresh off back-to-back successful campaigns with Southampton where he scored double figures and scored the Premier League’s fastest ever hat-track in a 6-1 victory over Aston Villa.

However, that was not enough to convince neutrals and some Liverpool supporters that he warranted such a large transfer fee.

Given how inflated the transfer market has now become, though, and Mane’s performances in a red shirt, the £36m Liverpool paid for the Senegal international now looks like an absolute bargain.

Unlike Son, Mane hit the ground running at his new club, finishing his debut campaign under Klopp with 13 Premier League goals despite missing a chunk of the winter period because of the Africa Cup of Nations.

Mane’s statistics the following season are even more impressive with the former Southampton man having hit the back of the net on 10 occasions in the 2017/18 Champions League on route to Liverpool’s 3-1 defeat in the final to Real Madrid.

It is not just goals Mane brings to the team, though. His pace and dribbling on the wing causes nothing but problems for defenders; rarely does he come out second best in a 1v1 duel.

As well as the above, Mane’s energy and work rate which is often on full display when Liverpool initiate their gegenpress, is also a factor in him being one the best signings the club have made in years.

He is an essential component to Klopp’s team and is one of very few world-class players in the Premier League.

TT Grade: A*

  The Verdict:

Son has come a long way since arriving at Tottenham and the initial struggles he went through at White Hart Lane.

He has since become the man Pochettino often looks to — be it from the starting XI or the bench — when talisman Harry Kane cannot find a way through and Tottenham, as a whole, are being frustrated.

But, if a football manager had a choice between the ex-Hamburger player and Mane, then there is no universe where the latter is not picked ahead of his Tottenham counterpart.

While Son is quality on his day, Mane, quite simply, is world-class.

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