Sadio Mane has conceded that Liverpool’s hopes of retaining the Premier League are over and says winning the Champions League is now the club’s ‘main target’.
Liverpool’s title defence has collapsed following a torrid run of form in recent weeks, defeat in last weekend’s Merseyside Derby their fourth consecutive league loss and fourth in succession at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp has seen his options decimated through a succession of injuries with club captain Jordan Henderson the latest to join a long list of absentees, including each of the club’s senior centre-back options that started the season – Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip – ruled out for extended periods.
Despite their stuttering league form the Reds have made progress in the Champions League and hold a strong advantage in their last-16 tie against RB Leipzig, goals from Mohamed Salah and Mane securing a 2-0 first leg win over the Bundesliga side last week.
Mane has now discussed his side’s hopes for the season and says attentions have now turned towards success in Europe, insisting the Reds’ hopes of defending the Premier League are ‘over’ after falling a huge 19 points adrift of league leaders Manchester City.
‘Our target from the beginning was the Champions League, the Premier League and also cup games. And now, I can say it’s over for the Premier League… it’s too much,’ Mane told ESPN.
‘In our head, it’s always “never give up” and we won’t give up, but for sure, City are a good team and they’re flying.’
Mane remains confident that Liverpool can make an impression in continental competition, however, insisting the Merseyside club are ‘here to beat the best in the world’ as they seek a second Champions League crown in three seasons.
‘The Champions League, that is our main target,’ he continued. ‘To win it, not be second, but it won’t be easy.
‘You’re going to face the best teams in Europe, but we’re here to beat the best in the world.’