Lionel Messi explains why he voted for Sadio Mane to win FIFA's 'The Best' award

  • Rob Swan

Aside from missing a couple of good opportunities at the end of Liverpool’s 5-2 win over neighbours Everton on Wednesday evening, Sadio Mane was magnificent – again.

The Senegalese winger scored one goal and set up two more with sublime assists to help the Reds stay eight points clear at the top of the table.

Mane is now the early frontrunner to win the PFA’s Premier League Player of the Year award after scoring nine goals and registering eight assists in his first 15 league appearances of the campaign.

The 27-year-old has enjoyed a fantastic 2019 and was recognised for his excellent form by finishing fourth in the Ballon d’Or voting earlier this week.

Mane received 347 points, which put him just behind Cristiano Ronaldo, Virgil van Dijk and Lionel Messi, who finished in third, second and first place respectively.

Only journalists vote in the Ballon d’Or – but this isn’t the case for FIFA’s ‘The Best’ award, which was also won by Messi back in September.

International coaches, captains and the media vote for that prize – and Messi sprang a surprise by voting for Mane.

The Argentina international, who won the Ballon d’Or for a record sixth time on Monday, was asked at this week’s ceremony why he voted for the Liverpool forward.

And you can watch the video here…

“It’s a shame to see Mane finish in fourth place,” Messi told Canal+, per the Metro.

“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.”

Who knew Messi was such a big fan of Liverpool’s No. 10?

In fairness, how can anyone not be?

The former Southampton star seems to be improving all the time and is unquestionably one of the world’s best attacking players right now.

There isn’t a single player that Jurgen Klopp would swap him for – well, with the exception of Messi, of course.

Every manager would love to have Mane in their ranks and, if he continues playing like he currently is, he will give Messi a serious run for his money for the 2020 Ballon d’Or.

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