Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp believes forward Sadio Mane can challenge Lionel Messi for the Ballon d’Or in years to come.
The Senegal international has been in sensational form in 2019 and actually won Messi’s vote in FIFA’s Best awards in September.
However, he finished fourth in the Ballon d’Or stakes behind the Barcelona forward, team-mate Virgil Van Dijk and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Messi said it was “a shame” Mane finished fourth but Klopp does not expect that to be the case for much longer.
“The first three in the Ballon d’Or was Messi, Van Dijk, Cristiano and then Sadio. That’s a nice row. Having two players there shows a lot,” said the Reds boss.
“Mo was fifth and Alisson was seventh. We obviously played a good season and they had to respect that.
“Sadio is in incredible shape. Since the first day he came in he has been an incredibly important player.
“I can still remember his first goal, the Arsenal goal: running down the line, cutting inside and with the next step left-foot into the far corner.
“An incredible goal. And each year he made big steps and is in a good way.
“For an offensive player when Messi says something like this… Sadio, especially against Barcelona at home, was very impressive, it was like we had three of him on the pitch.
“If he stays healthy he will have an incredible career in front of him and I think he can climb in that Ballon d’Or table.
Sadio Mane celebrating his goal against Everton on Wednesday
“But then some other people make decisions – not even Lionel Messi can decide that.”