Africa Cup of Nations: Watch Liverpool star Sadio Mane and Senegal get ready for action

David Cooper - Writer 10:53 23/06/2019
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Senegal and Tanzania finalised their preparations ahead of their Africa Cup of Nations opener.

Senegal are among the favourites for the tournament despite never winning the competition before.

‘The Lions of Teranga’ finished runners-up in 2002 but since then haven’t advanced beyond the quarter-finals.

Aliou Cisse will be hoping star forward Sadio Mane can inspire his side having just won the UEFA Champions League.


Tanzania are taking part in AFCON for the first time since 1980 and will face a difficult task to advance from Group C that also includes Algeria and Kenya.








Watch Senegal’s preparations above:


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Fernando Torres selects Liverpool icon as best player he played with in his career

Press Association Sport 09:55 23/06/2019
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Fernando Torres singled out former team-mate Steven Gerrard as the best player he has played with as he announced he will hang up his boots in August.

The former Liverpool and Chelsea striker, who has been playing in Japan for Sagan Tosu since leaving Atletico Madrid last year, held a press conference in Tokyo to explain his decision to retire from the game after an 18-year career.

The 35-year-old said he wanted to leave football with a “clear conscience” and before he felt he could not carry on mentally or physically in the game he loves.

“I have a high demand for myself,” he said.

“I’ve always wanted to be honest and to perform at the level I think I should and I think the time I will not be able to perform at the level I ask for myself is not far away and I don’t want to arrive at the time that I am going on the pitch and I’m not enjoying it.

“I want to put an end before that happens. Knowing my body and listening to my body, I think especially mentally that time is not far away and I want to finish my career in a good way before that happens.”

Asked who had made the biggest impression during his career, the Spaniard, who played at Anfield between 2007-2011, did not hesitate to name his former captain.

“I always say the best player I played with is Steven Gerrard. I found he was the player who completed my game. I think my level got into a different dimension when I was on the pitch with him.

“It was an amazing three-and-a-half years playing alongside Steven and I would love to go back to those days – even for one minute.”

Torres revealed he will play his last game on August 23 against Vissel Kobe, saying playing against friends Andres Iniesta and David Villa seemed a fitting end.

“To say goodbye to football next to my dear friend Iniesta is something I could never imagine, and Japan is going to make it possible.

“Also there will be my friend David Villa, with who I probably share the best moments in Spanish football history.

“So to say goodbye to football next to two very good friends – we share too many memories together – will be something great.

“I tried to find an iconic moment to play my final game and I think that is the perfect timing.”

Torres also spoke of his next steps and his desire to connect with Atletico Madrid in the future.

“I don’t know if it will be coaching or managing. I will study both things.

“I’m sure it will be something related to football because it’s been my life and it’s where I think I can offer more things.”

Speaking of his hometown club, Torres added: “Atletico Madrid is my life, so probably we will connect some way in the future but not immediately.

“I will not be back to just be a face… if I go back it will be for big things, to take the club to the next level.

“That needs time. I don’t have the experience, the knowledge of managing, I need time to prepare myself for the biggest challenge.”

Torres scored 81 goals across four seasons with Liverpool and won the Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup with Chelsea.

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Why Liverpool don't need to make big-money moves for the likes of Matthijs de Ligt and Nicolas Pepe

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Dutch team-mates Matthijs de Ligt and Virgil van Dijk

Never has such quiet spoken so much volume.

As Europe’s elite run around the continent seeking to pour as much cold cash on their inflamed heads, Liverpool have been decidedly chill.

Indeed, the pot of players rumouredly attached to the Reds has been comparatively empty so far, and although the possibility remains for a clandestine capture like Fabinho, it’s not as if Jurgen Klopp should really want to fish around for names anyway.

Yes, there will always be loose links to the club, after all, agents are at play as they seek to secure the best deal for their clients, perhaps using elite names like Liverpool to manufacture interest and by extension faux competition.

However, Liverpool have little need to engage in the transfer madness given the wildly distorted financial packages for talents like Ajax’s Matthijs de Ligt – said to be offered a weekly wage packet of £340,000 by Paris Saint-Germain – or Nicolas Pepe – valued at a staggeringly inflated £70 million by Lille.

The market is in a state of flux as it attempts to find true value following the shockwaves of recent summers, an environment incidentally Liverpool helped trigger by shattering record fees for a goalkeeper (£66.8m for Alisson Becker) and a defender (£75m for Virgil van Dijk).

And while money does talk, where the Reds are concerned, they have no reason to open the window and start screaming into the frenzy outside, their house is already in order.

Indeed, if the club were left in a position this summer needing to acquire a premier signing, it would indicate a problem within the XI.

But no such issue exists. For Klopp and the club, the necessary work has been completed and the panic has long subsided.

Instead, this summer is a period of personal development as opposed to external yearning because it’s about this group taking its next step, rather than adding a big name at the foot of the stairs.

In reality, 2018/19 was always meant to be a season in which Liverpool as a club packed on size.

That they were able to flex on the two biggest stages in the way they did, is perhaps a shock, yet it was always the destination, that it was reached quicker than initially expected in claiming the Champions League in Madrid and finishing so narrowly behind Manchester City, is a surprise in terms of time as opposed to result.

Granted, the minimum aim should have been to at least form a credible challenge to City and go deep again in Europe.

Those targets were ultimately surpassed, but that does not indicate the peak for this squad.

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Think about it. Last season was the first full campaign at Anfield for the likes of Van Dijk, Alisson and Fabinho. It was only the second for Mohamed Salah and Andy Robertson, and in so far as being an established senior star Trent Alexander-Arnold, too.

Peel back another layer and next season more will be expected from other freshman players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Naby Keita. Even Jordan Henderson offers different characteristics having been pushed up the pitch and a fit-again Joe Gomez can legitimately show once again why he should be considered the world’s best young centre-back.

In terms of time with the team, relative squad veterans Roberto Firmino (27), Sadio Mane (27), Georginio Wijnaldum (28) and Joel Matip (27) enter next season and beyond in their prime years, as does Xherdan Shaqiri (27).

At the opposite end of the scale, 19-year-old Rhian Brewster is tipped for great things and will have the opportunity to justify the faith in his extolled ability while Divock Origi, still only 24, adds to the forward mix.

James Milner (33) is the only one aged above 30 who is used frequently and even he has the physical fitness of someone a decade younger.

That’s 18 players mentioned, all contenders to start, not even including Dejan Lovren and Adam Lallana. Replacements are maybe required for the exits of Alberto Moreno and Daniel Sturridge, but only the former is really necessary.

City is no comparison either because Pep Guardiola’s aging squad necessitates a revamp. Liverpool are two years away from reaching that point and when the time comes for this cycle to end, the market will have calmed down.

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There is a theory that it’s better for teams to add more muscle when at their strongest, but there comes a point when it should be accepted, there’s just not much room to add before risking imbalance, especially when massive financial outlays dictate hierarchy.

For once, Klopp has the luxury of his top players remaining untouched, which means only the bottom end of the squad should be replenished.

If there’s one thing to glean from the fact Tottenham passed the 500-day mark without making an acquisition last week, it’s that signings aren’t always necessary, particularly for managers more focused on the training ground than the rumour mill.

For Mauricio Pochettino, it’s obvious that squad depth was needed, yet his first-choice XI is virtually untouchable.

Of course, now the complexion has changed because the team has reached the end of its cycle, but Liverpool have just begun theirs and Klopp has the numbers.

Ultimately, the German’s cake has been built, baked and decorated, now it’s time to eat rather than wait for more ingredients.

Make no mistake, though, the proof will be in the pudding next season.

The Premier League title should be the minimum target as are deep runs in all cup competitions.

This summer will likely be quiet from Liverpool’s perspective, and so it should be.

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