Lionel Messi: A 'shame' Sadio Mane did not finish higher in Ballon d'Or rankings
Barcelona star collected a record sixth award in Paris on Monday night
Barcelona star Lionel Messi said it was a "shame" Liverpool forward Sadio Mane did not finish higher up the Ballon d'Or rankings after an "exceptional" year.
In what could be perceived as an apparent dig at long-time rival Cristiano Ronaldo, who placed third behind Messi and Mane's Liverpool teammate Virgil van Dijk, the Argentine forward explained why he wanted to see the Senegalese player finish higher.
"It's a shame to see Mane finish in fourth place," Messi told television channel Canal+ days after collecting his record sixth Ballon d'Or trophy. "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 (for Fifa The Best award) 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."
Mane has enjoyed an exceptional 12 months, during which he has played a key part in Liverpool's Champions League triumph and helped the club to an eight-point lead in this season's Premier League.
On the international stage, Mane led Senegal to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations where they lost to Algeria.
Ronaldo, meanwhile, decided to snub the Ballon d'Or ceremony preferring instead to attend the Gran Gala del Calcio to collect an award for Serie A's best player.
Updated: December 5, 2019 03:04 PM