Sadio Mané has promised to give “the best answer you want to hear” about his Liverpool future after Saturday’s Champions League final, and he hopes a win against Real Madrid will improve his chances of becoming the second African international winner of the Ballon d’Or.
The Liverpool striker is out of contract in 2023, along with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, and unlike the Egyptian international, he has refused to reveal where he will play next season.
Mané promised in several interviews at Liverpool’s Champions League press day on Wednesday to announce a decision after the Paris final. But the 30-year-old, linked with a move to Bayern Munich, has indicated it will be a positive result for Liverpool. Fenway Sports Group, the club’s owner, wants to extend the outstanding careers of Mané and Salah at Anfield.
Mané said: “Honestly, the answer I can give you now is that I feel great and I am totally focused on the game on Saturday. That is the answer I must give before the final. But check back with me on Saturday and I’ll give you the best answer you want to hear, for sure. It’s special. I’ll give you anything you want to hear then. For now, let’s win it because I don’t have time for other things. I will do my best to win it because it is my biggest dream and that of all the boys, then I will give you the answers.
A second win in the Champions League with Liverpool would enrich an already dazzling season for Mané, who won the African Cup of Nations for Senegal, guided his country to the World Cup final Y raised the FA Y Carabao Cups. The achievements have strengthened his claims to win the Ballon d’Or by 2022, but Mané has lamented the lack of African representation in an award dominated by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for the last 13 years. George Weah of Liberia, in 1995, was the first and so far only winner to play for an African national team. Eusébio, who won the Ballon d’Or in 1965, was born in Mozambique but played international football for Portugal.
Mané, when asked if he felt African players were ignored in the vote, replied: “That’s true, which is sad. This cup, the African Cup of Nations, is the biggest trophy I’ve ever won in my life and for an African player not to win the Ballon d’Or since George Weah is sad, for sure.”
He hopes Saturday’s final can tip the vote in his favour. “We’ll do everything to win it and then we’ll see what happens with the Ballon d’Or,” she said. “I think all the Liverpool players and I have goals from the start of the season, which is to go for all the trophies. So far we have won two and missed one, which is now behind us, and Manchester City fully deserved it. And winning the Champions League would be special for me and for all the other guys.
“This is what we focus on, and we have to do what we can to win. The rest you have to decide for yourself. For me it would be even more special to have another bonus that is the Ballon d’Or, and I would be the happiest player in the world”.
Mané insists that there will be no pressure on Liverpool and, despite scoring in the Final defeat of 2018 against RealYou don’t feel like you have a score to settle. “It’s not about revenge for me,” she said. “Real Madrid fully deserved to win that Champions League.
“They were the best team in the game. I had forgotten about that. It was four years ago, right? There have been many changes, we have more quality and we know more how to win the important games, how to control them. We are a different team and this will be a game that will be different from all the others.”