Lethal Mane told what he must do at Liverpool to become a Ballon d'Or contender

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Former Reds midfielder Salif Diao believes a fellow Senegalese star needs to score even more goals and land major silverware to join the global elite

Sadio Mane is flourishing at Liverpool, becoming their go-to man for crucial goals, but Salif Diao says he needs to offer even more and land a trophy in order to compete for the Ballon d’Or.

The Reds forward has already hit the fabled 20-goal mark this season, with a prolific run of form seeing him find the target 11 times in his last 11 outings.

As Mohamed Salah struggles for end product at Anfield, Mane has been a talismanic presence for Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League title hopefuls.

His efforts have sparked talk of interest from Real Madrid and seen him billed as a contender for major individual honours, but the 26-year-old has been told by a fellow Senegalese that he must maintain these standards and secure major silverware if he is to join the global elite.

Former Reds midfielder Diao told the Liverpool Echo: "I think he is up there, but sometimes - whether it is fair or not - the critics are saying he doesn't score enough goals.

"I think this year he is doing it more. Even though this year he is on 20 goals, I think he could have been on 24 or 25 goals if you look at some of the chances he missed at the beginning of the season.

"Of course, if we talk about Ballon d'Or, you talk about trophies and he needs to win trophies. He knows that.

"And whoever plays for Liverpool as well, as a club, they have been starving for years for trophies and now is the right time.

"Mane is on fire, Salah is on fire and now is a good time to bring a trophy back."

Sadio Mane, Bayern vs Liverpool 2018-19

Mane has finished inside the top three of the African Player of the Year vote in the last three seasons, with club colleague Salah pipping him to the prize in 2017 and 2018.

Diao believes a lethal winger is capable of stepping up from a runner-up berth if he can continue to deliver on a consistent basis as part of a fearsome attacking unit at Liverpool.

He added: "I think it's fantastic to see Sadio doing better. So this year he has stepped up another level and I think people are thinking he has been very clinical in comparison with Mo Salah.

"I think the fact he lost the [African version of] Ballon d'Or, through that [lack of goals]. And that is where he has to be more clinical.

"I think that hurt him a lot and I see him gaining maturity and people are seeing everything he can do. He is getting more versatile on the pitch as well and I see him doing a lot more as a striker.

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"I think they complement each other [in the front three] and that is just great with Roberto Firmino dropping off and Salah or Mane taking on those positions.

"I think all that is helping him to be more clinical in front of goal."

Mane and Liverpool will return to domestic action after the international break on Sunday when they play host to top-four challengers Tottenham.

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