Messi picked up his record-breaking sixth Ballon d’Or on Monday, with the Barcelona forward finishing ahead of Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo.
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Mane was fourth in the list ahead of team-mate Mohamed Salah, with Alisson Becker making it four Liverpool players in the top seven following their Champions League victory in June.
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And while it is journalists from around the globe who have a say on the Ballon d’Or, Messi – as Argentina captain – opened up on why he chose Mane as his number one pick when voting for FIFA’s ‘The Best’ award back in September.
"It’s a shame to see Mane finish in fourth place," Messi, who also won The Best award, told Canal+.
"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 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."
Messi also picked Ronaldo and Frenkie de Jong in his The Best votes, but Ronaldo did not return the favour, choosing Matthijs de Ligt, De Jong and Kylian Mbappe.
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