- Lionel Messi believes Sadio Mane was deserving of his vote during FIFA The Best award ceremony in September
- The Argentine won Ballon d'Or award for the sixth time ahead of Van Dijk and Ronaldo
- The Barcelona star says he voted the Senegalese star because he had a great year for Liverpool
Lionel Messi has opened the lids on why he voted Liverpool and Senegalese star Sadio Mane for FIFA The Best award back in September.
The Barcelona star coasted to glory when he beat his arch rival Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil van Dijk to the FIFA award.
He would later move on to win Ballon d'Or award for the record of sixth time with Mane reduced to fourth spot behind the Barcelona star, Ronaldo and his teammate Virgil van Dijk.
The Argentine has now made an open revelation behind his daring show of respect for Mane which made him tip the Senegal sensation for the award given annually in recognition of the players with remarkable football year.
Speaking after receiving his sixth Ballon d'Or gong on Monday night in Paris, the Barcelona talisman confessed to tipping the Liverpool star for the award.
“It’s a shame to see Mane finish in fourth place,” Messi said at the gala night.
“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.”
Mane was instrumental to Liverpool's breakthrough into European champions last season and the 27-year-old star has complemented his rocket form for Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp this season.
The Senegalese, who shared the EPL highest goal scorer with Mo Salah and Aubameyang last year, is set for another rewarding season with impressive goal-scoring spree for the Reds.
Mane has scored nine goals and registered eight assists in his first 15 league appearances of the campaign.
He was magnificent again as Liverpool demolished Everton 5-2 at Anfield on Wednesday, December 4.
Earlier, Briefly.co.za had reported that Lionel Messi sent Cristiano Ronaldo and his rivals a fiery warning after being crowned the 2019 Ballon d'Or winner for a record sixth time.
Messi claimed the enviable individual award ahead of Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk and arch-rival Ronaldo both who finished second and third respectively.
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