Belfast Telegraph

Mane eyes top-four finish

Sadio Mane believes Southampton can continue their astonishing start to the season and qualify for the Champions League.

Many expected this to be a season of struggle and strife on the south coast given several stars of the last campaign left the club over the summer.

However, Ronald Koeman's side have confounded the naysayers and in some style, with Saints second in the Premier League after their best-ever start to a top-flight campaign.

A miserly defence complemented by exciting attacking options have made them one of the stories of the season and summer signing Mane believes they can maintain this fine form.

"I hope and I am confident that we can hold this pace and level of playing football," the winger told www.fifa.com

"Obviously, in the Premier League there are always the three, four or five big teams which can be found at the top of the table, but I am glad that so far, there are some teams up there that could be called a little surprise, including us.

"However, we have to stay realistic. It will be hard to remain where we are today. We will give our best to defend this place, and I have no doubt we have the potential and will."

Southampton is the latest stop on the Senegal international's European tour, following spells with French club Metz and Red Bull Salzburg of Austria.

Saints forked out in the region of £10million to sign the pacey winger, who is glad to have turned down other offers in favour of a move to St Mary's.

"Southampton is a big Premier League team with a long football tradition," Mane said.

"I always dreamed of playing in the Premier League, and I had a very good feeling about Southampton from the first contact.

"The entire philosophy, the smart way they progressively improved the team with dedicated transfers, the entire club environment and last but not least the highly professional and experienced coach, Ronald Koeman - that's why I chose Southampton as my next big challenge."

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