Manchester United and Liverpool have been rivals since the beginning of time, and very fittingly, they have always proven themselves to be the dominant forces of English football.
While not a local derby, this meeting is always keenly anticipated at the start of every season, and it remains one of the most watched and fiercely contested battles that our sport has produced.
Both clubs are littered with insane riches and endless attacking quality, and the pool of talent might never have been deeper. In Mohamed Salah, Liverpool boast one of the best players in the world, and not too far behind him sits Sadio Mane – the other star on the opposite flank.
Man Utd possess a player who has regularly been recognised as the best player in the world in Cristiano Ronaldo, but another new arrival has whipped the fanbase into a frenzy. Jadon Sancho’s big money move from Borussia Dortmund finally went through this summer, and supporters can’t wait for him to find his feet in the Premier League.
But which superstar is better? 90min is ready to settle the debate.
Both players love finding the back of the net, that’s for sure. Mane has grown to become one of the most reliable goalscorers in the division over the past half decade, and even when he suffers the odd dip in form, he bounces back to return to the player of old.
The Senegalese was the joint-Golden Boot winner for the 2018/19 season with 22 goals, and followed that up with 18 the season later. He hit double figures last year, even with doubts being raised about his form, and has already notched five goals in eight league games this season. That man will not be denied.
While Sancho has less years of experience under his belt, he already boasts all the makings of a goalscoring forward. The youngster has developed that nose for the net, bagging 12 times in his breakout season of 2018/19, and adding 17 more the next year.
His numbers dropped slightly in 2020/21 (although he was injured for a big portion of the campaign) and he has yet to get off the mark for Man Utd, meaning in terms of recent form, there is room for improvement.
Mane takes this round, as clinically as he beats the goalkeeper from inside the box.
It’s not easy being a massive superstar and also a team player, but Mane has achieved that pretty well during his time at Liverpool. He’s been a vital third of a historic front three, having conquered England and Europe alongside Salah and Roberto Firmino.
However, he has had his moments of frustration (particularly with Salah) when he felt he wasn’t receiving the ball, and he even refused to shake hands with manager Jurgen Klopp after starting one game on the bench. Not everyone is perfect, after all.
And then there’s Sancho. There’s a reason that Erling Haaland was so devastated to see Sancho leave Dortmund this summer. The England star had been laying chances on a plate for the big Norwegian forward throughout their time in yellow and black, and he knew a huge wedge of his supply was waving goodbye.
Sancho starred as part of the Bundesliga’s most entertaining forward line, regularly getting on the scoresheet, but also handing others a crack at glory. His numbers in the past two seasons are simply staggering. 29 assists over the past two campaigns tell the story of a man who loves sharing the limelight.
Mane and Sancho are known for grabbing goals and assists, but which player is your more authentic ‘winger?’ Well, Sancho is known for his ability to take advantage of every inch of the pitch, picking up the ball wide and using his dazzling footwork to beat his marker and set off with lightning pace.
This courage and love for dribbling means he can also collect the ball deeper and act as a more traditional right or left midfielder, making him a more versatile option for his manager. When he gets up and running, there is no stopping him.
Of course, that’s not to say Mane is a limited player. He’s made his name on the left of that Liverpool front three, linking up brilliantly to great effect. He, along with his two dynamic teammates, have reinvented the winger role, now tucked infield and lingering in goalscoring positions.
But in terms of moving into crossing areas, beating your marker on the touchline and getting chalk on your boots, Sancho is the man. A real throwback, and one we’ll have the pleasure of watching for years to come.
But when it really matters, when everything is on the line, who do you want on your side? Who’s going to put in the stellar performance you need to clinch a victory over your biggest rivals, secure a league title or win the biggest trophies on offer?
Well, Mane has proven himself to be that man time and time again for Liverpool. He won the penalty which set Liverpool on their way to Champions League glory in 2019. He then scored 18 goals and provided nine assists in the 2019/20 season, ending the Reds’ 30-year wait for a Premier League title.
On the other hand, Sancho has had less time to demonstrate his abilities in the clutch moments of the season, although he will still be haunted by that painful penalty miss in the shootout defeat in the Euro 2020 final.
Sancho is still incredibly young, and he will undoubtedly grow from this moment of anguish and harness it to his own advantage in the future. But for now, Mane is the man you want standing over the clutch chance with the last kick of the game.
So while Sancho has been deemed by 90min to be the better team player and more a classic winger, Mane takes the goalscoring and big game categories.
The next step was to take it to a public vote and the results are now in! It is Sadio Mane who wins in a landslide on this occasions, getting 78% of the votes, compared to 22% in favour of Sancho.