Former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba has picked Liverpool forward Sadio Mane as his favourite to win the 2019 Ballon d’Or.
Mane was named on the 30-man shortlist for the illustrious award due to his vital contributions as Liverpool won the Champions League for the sixth time in June, adding to performances in the Premier League this season and for Senegal over the summer.
Who will win the 2019 Ballon d’Or? Five things to know…
- The 30-man shortlist for the 2019 Ballon d’Or has been announced.
- Lionel Messi and Virgil van Dijk are the favourites for the award.
- Messi has already picked up FIFA’s The Best Men’s Footballer award this year.
- But Drogba has backed Mane to claim the Ballon d’Or.
- Mane has already been backed for the award by former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
The 27-year-old was one of seven Liverpool players on the shortlist, the most of any single club, having been joined by Mohamed Salah, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Georginio Wijnaldum, Virgil van Dijk, Alisson and Roberto Firmino.
Van Dijk is one of the favourites to win the award for his impact on Liverpool’s defence, but the Dutch centre-back faces stiff competition from Barcelona forward Lionel Messi.
However, Drogba, who will co-present this year’s Ballon d’Or ceremony in December, has another winner in mind.
When asked who his favourite for the 2019 Ballon d’Or is, Drogba told Paris Match: “Sadio Mané. For the CAN (African Cup of Nations), the Champions League, and the championship.
“What he does in the Premier League, very few players are able to do it.
“It is possible [he could emulate George Weah], but it would have been possible before. There are many players who have well represented the African continent, like Samuel Eto’o.
“What is a pity is that when we talk about African player, we talk about the continent, we do not speak of a country. We will never say Kylian Mbappe represents the European continent. It is a small shift that is present.
“But to return to the question, it would be really nice (if) Sadio or even Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continue to raise their level of play to hope to win this trophy.”
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Wenger also picks Mane for Ballon d’Or win
Drogba is not the only man in football to have backed Mane for Ballon d’Or glory. Speaking earlier in October, former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger also picked Mane as his favourite, hailing the Senegalese forward for his fearless playing style.
“Mane was the outstanding character, I would say – because he is a fighter… and efficient,” Wenger said. He’s not scared of anybody. At the moment, he deserves huge credit.”
Mane, who recently expressed his desire to spend the rest of his career at Liverpool, has been a key member of the Reds side as they look to win the league for the first time in 30 years.
The 27-year-old is Liverpool’s joint-top scorer in the Premier League with five goals, plus one assist. Only Salah has been directly involved in more league goals for Liverpool this season, scoring five and recording three assists.