Is Moussa Djenepo The New Mane ?
Monday, 26th Aug 2019 10:10
After his match winning performance at Brighton Saints fans were drawing comparisons with Sadio Mane, but is this a little bit early to get too excited.
After his cameo role against Liverpool last weekend I highlighted Moussa Djenepo as a potential star for Saints, I was impressed even in that small time period with his speed and work rate he showed a willingness not only to run at players but also to track back and defend.
In many respects he had become the forgotten man of the transfer window, he was signed back at the start of June for £14 million and then went off the the African Cup Of Nations with Mali.
That meant the signing of Che Adams and the chase for a central defender overshadowed his arrival and when pre season started he was unable to link up with his team mates due to International duty to virtually a week before the Premier League season began.
Therefore his only pre season action was 10 minutes in the final friendly before the big kick off against Burnley.
Clearly Ralph Hasenhuttl was mindful of the fact that Djenepo needed a break of some sort before being plunged into serious action, that meant he sat on the bench at Burnley and had to wait till the final 13 minutes of the defeat to Liverpool to make his competitive debut for the club.
But he showed a willingness to run at players in that short time aligned with a work ethic that saw him have to defend as well as attack to suggest that he could well be the signing of the summer.
That thought was given more credence on Saturday at Brighton, coming on shortly after the break he had scored the winning goal with virtually his first touch and it was a glorious one at that curling a shot into the corner of the goal.
But his game against Brighton was far more than that, yes he ran at their defence and almost created a second goal on a couple of occasions, but effectively playing as a wing back and having to perform defensive duties he did not shirk his allotted task.
With Saints holding only that one goal lead he had to defend and he did that efficiently, not leaving the task to others but tracking back and winning tackles.
So are these Sadio Mane comparisons justified ?
The answer is it is far too early to compare the two players, we have not seen enough of Djenepo to be able to make that comparison.
However it must be said he has made a quicker impact than the now Liverpool star, Mane took 5 games to get his first goal and then did not get his second till his 14th game and in his first season took a fair bit of stick and it was really only in the penultimate game of the season when he score the Premier League's fastest hat trick that he started to get the plaudits.
Before that many were questioning his signing and even in his second season he went nearly four months without scoring in the Premier League before his brace against Liverpool in late March sparked a scoring spree that ended with Saints in 6th place and earned him a big money move to Liverpool.
Few Saints fans would have predicted his success at Liverpool and the difference between his time here and Anfield can probably be pinpointed as his all round game, here he was not that enamoured of chasing back, it was when he had the ball he came alive, at Liverpool most games are spent for him with the team attacking, with Saints it was different.
So the Mane comparisons are obvious in the way that Djenepo runs at players, but probably here they end in that he seems to have the engine in him to work hard going back and defending as well.
So although we cannot compare the two players yet in quality, we can can look at the potential reasons why Djenepo might manage to match Mane's exploits and even eclipse them.
This all comes down to work rate and attitude, Djenepo looks like he want to play, he wants to attack he wants to defend and he wants to work, so the signs are good in the little time we have had to assess Djenepo.
The important thing though is not to put too much on his shoulders, let him grow naturally and find his feet, we should not forget that Mane for long periods in his two years at St Mary's was the brunt of the ire of a section of the Saints support, perhaps that was one reason why he was quick to get away when the chance arose.
We need to back Djenepo, encourage him to take on players and not leave him met with a large groan when he loses the ball. If we do that then he could blossom, players like Djenepo are confidence players, they need to play knowing that everyone is behind them from the manager to teammates and just as importantly the fans.
Nathan Redmond is a prime example of this.
So welcome To Saints Moussa Djenepo, it seems that we have known your name for ages without even knowing what you looked like, now we certainly do, long may it continue.
Photo: Action Images
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