Lionel Messi has outlined his admiration for Liverpool forward Sadio Mane and described his placement in the Ballon d’Or standings as a “shame”.
The Barcelona sensation scooped yet another Ballon d’Or award in Paris on Monday evening, making him the world record holder with six to his name.
Why is Messi upset with Mane’s Ballon d’Or finish? Five things to know…
- Mane has enjoyed an exceptional 2019 for both club and country.
- He helped Liverpool win the Champions League last season and clinched the Premier League Golden Boot.
- The 27-year-old also guided Senegal to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final, only to lose out to Algeria.
- He finished fourth in the Ballon d’Or standings, behind Messi, teammate Virgil van Dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo.
- However, Messi thinks it’s a “shame” Mane failed to place higher in the standings.
Mane, meanwhile, finished a more than respectable fourth in the standings, with his exploits at both club and international level being recognised worldwide.
The Liverpool star was sensational as the Merseysiders won a sixth European crown in 2018/19, while he also shone on domestic soil, clinching the Premier League Golden Boot with 22 goals.
He also played a key part in Senegal’s run to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations final and scored a brace in the Reds’ Super Cup over Chelsea triumph back in August.
Messi, who added a sixth Ballon d’Or to his record-breaking collection, has explained why he voted for Mane in Fifa’s The Best award and thinks it’s a “shame” the Liverpool man only placed fourth in the standings for football’s most coveted individual prize.
“It’s a shame to see Mane finish in fourth place,” Messi told Canal+ Sport Africa.
“But I think there have been a lot of great players this year. That’s why it was difficult to choose a particular player. But I chose Sadio Mane (for The Best award) because he’s a player that I like.
“Mane achieved a great year that was exceptional for the entire Liverpool team. That’s why I chose him.
“I repeat, there were a lot of very great players this year, so the choice was difficult.”
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Mane masterclass puts Everton to the sword in Merseyside mauling
If ever you needed an example of just why Mane is so highly regarded by arguably the greatest player ever to have laced up their boots, then cast your mind to the Merseyside derby on Wednesday.
The Reds, despite resting talismanic duo Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, ran riot at Anfield, beating neighbours Everton 5-2 to pile further misery on Marco Silva and ultimately seal his sacking.
Goals were scored by Divock Origi, Xherdan Shaqiri and Georginio Wijnaldum, but the star of the show was without question Mane — who also got on the scoresheet himself.
The Senegalese pulled off two world-class assists that would have sat proudly in Messi’s passing pantheon had he produced them himself.
He capped a wonderful evening off by scoring Liverpool’s fourth, a well-driven left-footed strike which just nestled gracefully in the near corner, taking the game truly beyond Everton’s reach.