Sadio Mane is capable of forcing his way into contention for the 2022 Ballon d’Or if Liverpool go on to savour Champions League glory this season, says Jurgen Klopp, with a “world class” talent told European glory may be required in order to land a Golden Ball as he is not Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo.
While a Senegal international may not boast the individual records and awards of Argentine and Portuguese superstars, he remains a talismanic presence at Anfield and has hit 20 goals across all competitions in the current campaign.
The most recent of those came in the first leg of a continental semi-final clash with Villarreal, with many now suggesting that Mane could compete with the likes of Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe for a prestigious prize that is handed out by France Football on an annual basis.
Is Sadio Mane a Ballon d’Or contender in 2022?
Liverpool remain in contention for an unprecedented quadruple this season, with the Carabao Cup winners still in the running for another Premier League title while also reaching the last four of the Champions League and the FA Cup final.
Mane continues to star across multiple competitions, with Klopp saying when asked if a man that has also savoured Africa Cup of Nations glory could challenge for the Ballon d’Or: “If you are not Messi or Ronaldo you have to win probably the Champions League, which we didn't do yet so give us a few more weeks and then we will see where we end up.”
Why is Sadio Mane sparking Ballon d’Or talk?
Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk have been the most serious contenders for Golden Ball honours at Anfield in the recent past, but Mane has remained a model of consistency for the Reds.
He has reached the 20-goal mark for the fourth time in the last five seasons, with his versatility being put to good use as the likes of Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota also compete for starting berths in a star-studded attacking unit.
Klopp added on Mane, who has been figuring as a striker of late, after seeing him wrap up a 2-0 victory over Villarreal that has given Liverpool one foot in the Champions League final: “He can play left, he can play central, both positions world-class.
“He started for us here at Liverpool on the right wing. Some people in the room will remember his goal at Arsenal when it was his first goal, when he cut inside and fired the ball with his left foot into the far corner. Absolutely outstanding, love it.
“There are different ways that Sadio plays and sometimes we want him to drop slightly more, but today we wanted him to stay even more between the centre-halves, keep them away and offer the runs in behind. He has the skill set for it.”