Ballon d'Or News: Sadio Mane backs Lionel Messi to win the Golden Ball this year
What's the story?
In case you didn't know...
Lionel Messi enjoyed a remarkable 2018/19 campaign, racking up 51 goals and 22 assists for Barcelona across all competitions. Also, the Argentine superstar suffered a shoulder fracture which restricted him to just 43 starts last season, making his statistics even more alluring.
The 32-year-old, with his 36 goals in LaLiga, captured the Trofeo Pichichi and an unprecedented sixth European Golden Boot. In terms of personal achievements last season, Messi is way ahead of his Ballon d'Or counterparts- like Kylian Mbappe, Eden Hazard, Mohamed Salah, and of course, Sadio Mane.
Also, Sadio Mane enjoyed an excellent last season himself, managing to win the Premier League Golden Boot for his 22 league goals in the 2018/19 term. The 27-year-old helped Senegal to the final of this year's Africa Cup of Nations.
"I think Messi is the best player in the world and I think he deserves it as long as he plays," he told the press conference.
"The Ballon d'Or is not something I am thinking of, but if it happens by any chance I will obviously take it.
"I don't think there is any case and I think that Messi is still the best player in the world and it doesn't matter if he isn't in the Champions League final."
The heart of the matter
Mane was asked whether he would feel 'frustrated' if Lionel Messi won the Golden Ball ahead of him. The Senegal international replied by saying: "No."
The Liverpool forward continued and said:
"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."
Sadio Mane's Liverpool side face Chelsea for the UEFA Super Cup in Istanbul later today.
In the meanwhile, Lionel Messi will be stepping up his preparations as Barcelona embark their 2019/20 season with a league clash against Athletic Bilbao on August 17.