Giggs vs Mane: Who really is better?

The great debate

Jamie Carragher and Roy Keane have stirred up an almighty debate amongst football fans, specifically, the Manchester United and Liverpool community.

The two pundits sat down on Sky Sports' Monday Night Football to discuss their United-Liverpool combined XI, choosing players from the unstoppable Reds side this year and the unrivalled United squad of 1999. And, as expected, the two argued the case for the men playing for their former employees, rather than the other.

As Carragher submitted a passionate case for Virgil Van Dijk, Keane shouted for Jaap Stam. And as the Anfield legend desired Roberto Firmino, the ex-Red Devil refused to stay silent about Dwight Yorke.

However, the debate which has split the football community the most is who goes at left midfield out of Sadio Mane and Ryan Giggs. So, let's see who really is the better left-sided winger.

Mane's four years of brilliance

Sadio Mane was well on the path to success at Southampton and just needed that gargantuan club to help guide him down that route. Now, at Liverpool, the Senegal international has 75 goals and 33 assists in 156 games and has without question established himself as one of the very best around.

This season, Mane has registered 16 goals in all competitions and is arguably the main man in Liverpool's unparalleled success in this dominant Premier League season. As of now, the winger is 2/1 with Sky Bet to win the PFA Player of the Year and could even go for many more awards, should he propel the Reds to a more than just the league title.

Last season alone, Mane bagged 22 times in the league and became only the third Liverpool player to win the Premier League Golden Boot in the process. Now, with his 'peak' years just ahead of him, the former Saints star is with no better team in no better form to truly reach the heights of those plastered across the history books.

You simply cannot argue with the 27-year-old's ability right now. And, with a Golden Boot, the record of the fastest ever hat-trick (two minutes 56 seconds), a Champions League title and a potential Premier League title on his CV already, why can't we put him up against the very best in Giggs?

Giggs' unmatched 24-year stint

If you asked each Premier League fan who goes on the left side of their all-time XI, the chances are, Giggs will feature quite heavily. The fact the United legend played (and scored) in each one of the first 21 Premier League seasons, simply means he cannot be overlooked.

Over this time, indeed the likes of Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Ruud Van Nistelrooy might have been of greater importance, but Giggs' ability was never doubted. Down the years, the Welsh wizard held the record for most appearances (632) and still leads the way for the most assists (162), with nobody coming close to this feat.

At the same time, his magical left foot helped earn United 13 Premier League titles, two Champions League trophies and 21 other major trophies. Individually, Giggs boasts of six PFA Team of the Year spots, a PFA Player of the Year, a PFA Team of the Century position, and, countless other globally recognised awards.

In truth, no player in English football boasts of such legendary consistency, ruthless wing play down the years and such a glamourous CV. Regardless of who occupies the left, you simply must include Giggs within the argument.

How do they compare?

How you compare Mane and Giggs is entirely dependent on what you desire. Goals; Mane is your man. Longevity; get yourself a Giggs. Simply put, the ex-United star competed for so long at such a high level that he would be a welcomed addition to any squad.

On the other hand, the Reds hero is a goal machine and is proving to be the vital component this year in Liverpool's astonishing route to their first league title in 30 years. This season, Mane has 12 league goals, which is just one short of the most Giggs achieved in a single season.

However, to judge Giggs based solely on his statistics would be a contradiction to what made Sir Alex Ferguson teams so successful. The likes of Rooney didn't always score, but he always performed. The greats such as Scholes didn't always assist, but he remained irreplaceable throughout.

Giggs' lightning pace, ruthless nature, and old school ability down the left made him a cultural icon. On the other hand, Mane's goalscoring prowess, importance, and modern-day expertise make him one of the best this past decade.

Who wins?

Indeed, Mane scored much more, but nobody else stepped into each of the great Fergie team on the left side for 21 years. Correct, the Liverpool man assisted more, but the United legend threatened for 22 years as we have never seen before.

In reality, it is just a matter of opinion and the two are hard to measure as of now. Similar to comparing Fernando Torres and Ruud Van Nistlerooy, Rio Ferdinand and Van Dijk, Andy Robertson and Denis Irwin; you take your pick and there can be little argument against it.

However, if Mane carries on for the same amount of time as Giggs, but in poor form, does he still qualify for this debate? If he carries on in his current form for the same length of time, he no doubt destroys Giggs in this one; it truly is that close.

Either way, the two are both greats of the Premier League and make an argument to get into any side.

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