Sadio Mane Hopes To Become First African Player To Win The Ballon d’Or Since George Weah 27 years ago.

Sadio Mane thinks that African players are not always considered serious candidates for the Ballon d'Or as he looks to become the first player from the continent to win the prestigious award since George Weah in 1995.

The Senegalese star, has had a great 2022, leading his country to glory in the 2021 African Cup of Nations (AFCON), winning the tournament for the first-time in history, and also guided the team through to the FIFA World Cup in Qatar later this year, making it their third appearance in the world biggest sporting event.

Apart from those outstanding efforts his magnificent form for Liverpool this season cannot be overlooked, as he played a key role in his side's EFL Cup and FA Cup triumphs. He ended the Premier League season on a high, scoring eight goals in his last 13 league games.

Mane also scored a goal in both legs of Liverpool's semi-final tie with Villarreal in the Champions League. He has scored 23 goals in 50 appearances across all competitions for Jurgen Klopp's side this season..

Having won the domestic cup double Carabao Cup and FA Cup, he prepares to win the Champions League on Saturday night against Spanish champions Real Madrid, and says the Ballon d'Or would be a bonus.

The 30-year-old has been touted as a potential front-runner for the next Ballon d’Or, alongside teammate Mo Salah, Real Madrid star Karim Benzema and Bayern's Robert Lewandowski who also also in contention for the award.

When asked whether African players have largely been overlooked for the Ballon d’Or this century, Mane reflected: 

“It’s true, which is sad. This cup, the Africa Cup of Nations, is the biggest trophy I have won in my life and for an African player not to have won the Ballon d’Or since George Weah is sad, for sure.

“We will do everything we can to win it and then we will see what happens with the Ballon d’Or... Mane added.

“I think myself and all the Liverpool players have targets from the beginning of the season, which is to go for all the trophies.

“So far we have won two, and missed one, which is behind us now, and Manchester City fully deserved it [the Premier League title]. And to win the Champions League would be special for me and for all the other boys.

“This is what we focus on, and we have to do what we can to win. The rest you guys have to decide.

“For me it would be even more special to have another bonus which is the Ballon d’Or, and I would be the happiest player in the world.”

Mane would be a popular winner, but it is clear he is up against what seems like an obvious bias against players of African descent, with George Weah the only winner, in 1995. Zinedine Zidane, who hails from Marseille but has parents of Algerian descent, strangely, won it only once, in 1998

Ballon d'Or Contenders Stats for club & country in 2021/22:

Karim Benzema:

◉ 49 goals

◉ 16 assists

◉ 3 trophies

Mohamed Salah:

◉ 33 goals

◉ 19 assists

◉ 2 trophies

Sadio Mané:

◉ 29 goals

◉ 4 assists

◉ 3 trophies

Robert Lewandowski:

◉ 57 goals

◉ 7 assists

◉ 1 trophy

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