Jurgen Klopp outlined the one thing Liverpool must do if they are to help Sadio Mane win his first Ballon d’Or in 2022.
The last Liverpool players to scoop the prestigious prize was Michael Owen in 2001. Steven Gerrard finished third in 2005, while Fernando Torres matched that feat in 2008 when placing behind just Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Virgil van Dijk went one better in 2019 when finishing second, though if Liverpool win an unprecedented quadruple this season, the award may find a new home at Anfield.
Indeed, trophies on the CV – both for club and country – often play a big part in swaying the voters.
Jorginho finished third last year after helping Chelsea win the Champions League and Italy win Euro 2020. Some would argue he wasn’t even the best midfielder at Stamford Bridge that year, but his honours list aided his cause.
Liverpool already have the League Cup in the bank and remain in the hunt for three more trophies. Their 2-0 victory over Villarreal on Wednesday night ensured they have one foot in the Champions League final already.
Mohamed Salah could make a case for being Liverpool’s likeliest candidate to scoop the award. Indeed, the Egyptian has 30 goals and 14 assists this year compared to Mane’s 20 and three respectively.
However, in a post-match interview, Klopp was asked about Mane’s chances.
Champions League + AFCON = Ballon d’Or?
Mane has the advantage of an international trophy in the cabinet after helping Senegal win AFCON earlier this year. Mane won the tournament’s best player award and scored the decisive penalty in the shoot-out too.
Klopp described Mane’s season to date as “outstanding” and insisted winning the Champions League could aid his forward’s chances greatly.
“Wow! He plays an outstanding season, Sadio is an outstanding player,” said Klopp when asked specifically if Mane could win the Ballon d’Or (via the Mirror).
“I have nothing to do with the Ballon d’Or nomination and all these kind of things. I don’t understand it really 100 percent.
“He is world-class and played again a really good game for us. I don’t know exactly how you come to that question now, the season is not even over.
“Historically you have to win something, I think, to win the Ballon d’Or most of the time.
“It was like this, that 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.
“Sadio wants to contribute, Sadio wants to help the team and that’s what I love most of all.”
Mane’s previous best finish was fourth in 2019. He will face stiff competition not only from Salah this year, but also from Karim Benzema.
The Frenchman has 41 goals from 41 matches this season and could yet have a say in where the Champions League trophy ends up.