Argentina talisman Lionel Messi, who bagged his world-record sixth Ballon d’Or in Paris, said it’s a shame that Sadio Mane finished at the fourth position in the race for the coveted award.
Notably, Mane was Messi’s pick for the prestigious award as the Senegalese has been in terrific form in the recent years.
On Monday night, Messi edged past Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk to win the Golden Ball for a record sixth time, whereas the 32-year-old’s arch-rival Cristiano Ronaldo missed the award by a healthy margin. Mane stood fourth in the race and hence he too was denied the award as happened with Van Dijk and Ronaldo.
“It’s a shame to see Mane finish in fourth place,” Messi told Canal+ as quoted by Goal.
“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 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,” said Messi.
Mane was one of the prominent players in the Liverpool squad, who won the 2018-19 Champions League and finished second in the Premier League. In the season, Mane scored 26 goals — only one short of Mohamed salah, who led the goalscorers’ chart — and assisted 5.
In the current campaign, Mane has already scored 13 goals and assisted seven in 21 appearances for the Reds so far.