The Liverpool winger’s international manager thinks that winning the AFCON would help him claim the Golden Ball for a stellar 2019.
Senegal head coach Aliou Cisse believes that Sadio Mane’s performances in 2018-19 warrant him being awarded the Ballon d’Or.
The Liverpool winger played a pivotal role in the Reds claiming Champions League glory while he also ended the season as the joint-highest goalscorer in the Premier League with 22 goals.
And Cisse thinks that he is well placed the be the next Ballon d’Or recipient after Luka Modric finally broke the 10-year dominance of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi by claiming the award in 2018.
When asked if it’s Mane’s time to receive the Ballon d’Or, he told Goal: “Why not? He has worked hard not only in the last year but since 2011, where I’ve known him to have great discipline and high professionalism. I followed him from his time in Austria and Southampton until he arrived at Liverpool.
“What he has achieved this year is a result of great effort over many years and winning the AFCON will be an extension of those efforts. It will take him a step closer to the Golden Ball, which I think he deserves to win.”
Despite his incredible form at club level, Mane has seen his performances for Senegal called into question, with the 27-year-old even booed by his own supporters during an Africa Cup of Nations qualifying win over Equatorial Guinea.
Cisse, though, believes the former Southampton star’s ability cannot be denied and that he’s done well to recover from his various critics on the international stage.
“No one can dispute the abilities of Sadio Mane,” he added. “He’s a world-class player and has proven as much. He’s always talking [to me] about everything, even when he’s with Liverpool.
“I’ve tried to help him as best I can but more importantly, he has self-confidence and he managed to recover quickly. What’s happened [the criticisms] has motivated him to respond to everyone and I think he’s succeeded in doing that.”
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