Sadio Mane revealed he was honoured to learn that he was Lionel Messi’s number one vote for this year’s FIFA The Best award.
While Messi also voted for Cristiano Ronaldo and Barcelona team-mate Frenkie de Jong in FIFA’s The Best award, he reserved his number one vote for Mane following a standout campaign for the Liverpool forward.
The 27-year-old stunning progress saw him become a critical part of Liverpool’s Champions League success last season. His 22 goals, meanwhile, helped the Reds record a club-record 97 points on route to a second-place Premier League finish.
Mane’s tally saw him tie with team-mate Mohamed Salah and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the Golden Boot.
And, while Liverpool team-mate Virgil van Dijk has pretty much picked up all the individual plaudits, it was Mane who impressed Messi the most.
“It’s a great compliment when Messi votes for you,” Mane told The Times.
“If you look at where I’ve come from, it shows I’ve come quite far. Without being for a long time at an academy, I got here.
“All I can say [to kids] is to keep working hard and go for your dream.”
Of course, it was Messi who took home FIFA’s The Best award in the end with Van Dijk second and Ronaldo third. While Salah and Mane completed the top-five.
Asked if he would return the favour to Messi anyway, Mane replied: “Yes, for sure…after Virgil [Van Dijk]. No, Virgil is a great, great player but sorry Virgil, it has to be Messi before you.”
Former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, announced that he believes Mane deserves to win the 2019 Ballon d’Or.
And the Senegal star seems set for another brilliant campaign for Liverpool this term. He’s scored eight goals in 11 appearances to help Jurgen Klopp’s men get off to an incredible start.
The European champions, in fact, have won all eight of their Premier League games to build-up a five-point lead over Manchester City in the standings.
Liverpool will have a chance to extend that by another three points this evening away to the struggling Manchester United at Old Trafford. The match starts at 17:30 (CET).