Liverpool forward Sadio Mane was recently named African player of the year following an impressive campaign with club and country.
The Senegalese winger led the West Africans to the AFCON finals after helping the Anfield outfit win the Champions League last term.
Mane also won the Premier League Golden Boot after netting 22 goals, but Liverpool missed out on the title to Manchester City by just a point.
Jurgen Klopp’s men are running away with the title this term, though, following an impressive start to the 2019-20 campaign, and the 27-year-old has weighed in with 11 goals and five assists.
While he is currently the best African player, Mane missed out on the Ballon d’Or, finishing outside the top three.
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi beat Virgil Van Dijk and Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo to the prize – his sixth and the most by any player – but former Chelsea striker Demba Ba believes Mane should have won the prize instead.
“These days we speak so much about statistics – I believe that he had the individual and collective stats to have won the Ballon d’Or. I always said if you swap Mane’s stats in 2019 with Messi’s, Messi still would have won it, even with fewer goals,” the Senegalese striker told The Independent.
“The fact that Mane won the Champions League, the Super Cup, he played an unbelievable season and finished joint top goal-scorer in the Premier League, it’s crazy! Not only that, he was decisive in all of the games. I believe he could’ve won it.”
Ba was quick to recognize Messi’s greatness, though, saying not even Mane can claim he is better than the Argentine even if he had a better season.
“I’ve had this talk with a lot of players. They say ‘yeah, but Messi is a better player’. Of course, everyone knows that! Even if Sadio comes and tells me that he’s better than Messi, I’d slap him in his face and tell him ‘shut up boy, sit down!’ But in 2019, in my perspective, he had a better season.”
While Messi is arguably the best player on the planet right now, Mane should have pipped him to the Ballon d’Or after such a great campaign.
The Liverpool star emerged fourth during the voting process, and the award appears to be more of a popularity contest rather than a meritorious prize.
Messi indeed won the La Liga and also scored the most league goals in Europe, but he wasn’t able to inspire Barcelona to the Champions League.