KEY POINTS

  • Sadio Mane's former manager Alain Giresse puts him ahead of Lionel Messi
  • Giresse revealed that he would have voted for Mane instead of Messi for last year's Best FIFA Men's player award
  • Liverpool claim Mane was the closest thing to a prime Cristiano Ronaldo

Sadio Mané’s former coach believes the Liverpool star deserved the Best FIFA Men's Player award last year more than six-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi.

Liverpool finally ended their 30-year Premier League title drought this year. Aside from the brilliance of Jurgen Klopp, the credit also goes to the team’s superstars, Mohamed Salah and Mané. While Salah impressed everybody with his incredible goal-scoring, some believe that Mané also played a huge role in the club’s success because of his overall attributes.

In a recent interview with ESPN, Alain Giresse, who coached Mané during his time in charge of Senegal between 2013 and 2015, discussed what he saw in the young Senegalese forward.

At the time, Giresse had already envisioned Mané becoming one of the greatest players in the world, and the former French footballer of the year turned out to be right.

"When I was head coach of Senegal, Sadio was still young but he had ahead of him an enormous potential, a technical potential, and a moral potential to go on to become a great player, as he has become today," Giresse recalled.

The former Tunisia manager even made a big revelation about Mané and last year’s Best FIFA Men’s Player award, which was handed to Messi. As per Giresse, he would have picked Mané instead of Messi to win the prestigious award. However, someone else voted on his behalf at the time.

"I definitely would have put Sadio Mané ahead of Messi, in terms of the season they had last season. I didn't receive the ballot sheet, so it wasn't me who voted [as Tunisia's manager]. I can't say who did, but it wasn't me,” he revealed.

At the time, Mané ranked fifth, behind Liverpool teammates Virgil van Dijk and Salah and Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

Sadio Mane opened the scoring for Liverpool against Crystal Palace Sadio Mane opened the scoring for Liverpool against Crystal Palace Photo: AFP / Ian KINGTON

In a talent-stacked club such as Liverpool, it’s really hard to shine alone. However, Mané was able to prove that playing alongside Salah, van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson is no problem at all.

In fact, the Reds are even convinced that Mané’s development over time has made him the only player who has reached the same footing as the prime Cristiano Ronaldo.

According to the club’s official website, Mané resembles Premier League Ronaldo “in style and substance.” The club further emphasized that Mané’s body control, athleticism, strength, leaping ability, heading ability, and speed were at the same level as Ronaldo's when he was at his absolute best.

“He [Mané] is, right now, the closest thing we have seen on a Premier League pitch to prime Cristiano Ronaldo. Not the Ronaldo of the early years or this latter-day Juventus edition. Peak Ronaldo,” Liverpool.com wrote.