Sadio Mane says Lionel Messi deserves the Ballon d’Or

Liverpool attacker Sadio Mane has said that Barcelona star Lionel Messi deserves the Ballon d’Or and he does not have to describe the qualities of the Argentina international. Messi came a distant fifth in the race for the coveted prize last year and that came as a surprise for many, given the attacker had helped the Blaugrana win a domestic League and Cup double.

He has not been able to replicate the feat during the recent campaign, where the Blaugrana only won the league title, but a large section of the footballing fraternity have touted him for the prestigious accolade this time around. Speaking in a press conference, Mane was asked whether he can win the Ballon d’Or ahead of Messi and he responded with a ‘No’ while saying: "I will recognise that he deserves to win it. For sure, everybody knows Messi, so I don't have to describe how good he is."

Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo had won the Ballon d’Or title between 2008 and 2017 but the streak broke last year where Luka Modric was handed with the prize. While he was influential towards Real Madrid’s third-straight Champions League title, the award came about from the standout performance for Croatia en route to the World Cup final.

The Croatians could not outsmart France at the final hurdle as they suffered a 4-2 defeat but Modric won over the supporters and pundits with both the FIFA Best Men’s award and Ballon d’Or. For the current year, Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk has been regarded as the bookies favourite for the award but he has himself dismissed the prospect of that happening.

The Netherlands international was pivotal to Liverpool’s Champions League success which ended a seven-year wait for the trophy, but he has still dismissed his chances of beating Messi to the title. The former Southampton man believes Messi should win the Ballon d’Or every year with the exceptional performances displayed on the field. Messi bagged 51 goals across all competitions for Barcelona last season.