2016 BBC African Footballer of the Year: Sadio Mane profile

Sadio Mane

Senegal international Sadio Mane has had a phenomenal year.

The versatile forward can play anywhere in attack - out wide, in the hole or up front - and he has emerged as one of the Premier League's most dangerous players and one of Africa's brightest stars.

His searing pace, superb close control and quick thinking has struck fear into his opponents and earned him a place in fans' hearts as well as plaudits from pundits.

He is a box of tricks who is clinical in front of goal and also able to pick a pass and create chances for his team-mates.

Mady Toure, the founder of Academie Generation Foot where Mane began his football education, is convinced the 24-year-old is the complete package.

"Sadio Mane has something something that even Lionel Messi doesn't have, something that even Neymar doesn't have," he told BBC Sport.

Mane ended last season as Southampton's leading scorer with 15 goals in all competitions and sealed a summer move to Liverpool for £34m.

That switch to Anfield made him the most expensive African player in history, with his transfer fee easily surpassing the £28m Manchester City paid Swansea City for Ivorian striker Wilfried Bony in January 2015.

Mane has six goals and four assists in 11 matches for the Reds this season.

He has been instrumental from the off at Liverpool, scoring on his league debut in the 4-3 win at Arsenal on the opening day of the season.

Mane made a big impact again in the next game, creating two assists as Liverpool thumped Burton Albion 5-0 in the EFL Cup.

He followed that up by scoring one goal and creating another in the 4-1 home win over reigning Premier League champions Leicester City to send the Anfield fans into a frenzy.

His other goals came in league victories over Hull and West Brom and most recently a brace in the 6-1 rout of Watford.

On the international scene Mane starred for Senegal in their opening 2018 World Cup qualifier in October, proving a key man and providing a crucial goal in the win against Group D rivals Cape Verde.

Capped 36 times by his country, Mane has 10 goals and 11 assists for the Teranga Lions and will be crucial to their hopes of making it to Russia 2018 as well at next year's Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon.

Mane's performances for club and country have made him a worthy candidate on the shortlist for the BBC African Footballer of the Year for the second consecutive year.

Already his decision to abandon school at 15 to pursue a professional career in football has brought him handsome rewards.

He won a league and cup double with Austrian side FC Salzburg in 2014, is Senegal's go-to man, and in May 2015 he set the record for the fastest hat-trick in league history when he struck a treble in 176 seconds for Southampton against Aston Villa.

From street football in his home town of Sedhiou to the Premier League via Dakar, France and Austria, Mane's journey has been thrilling.

And the sense is he has the potential to become one of the finest African players of all time.

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