Sadio Mané has pledged to give “the best answer you want to hear” about his Liverpool future after Saturday’s Champions League final, and hopes a victory against Real Madrid would enhance his prospects of becoming only the second African international winner of the Ballon d’Or .
The Liverpool forward is out of contract in 2023, along with Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, and unlike the Egypt international has refused to divulge where he will play next season.
Mané promised in several interviews at Liverpool’s Champions League media 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 outcome for Liverpool. Fenway Sports Group, the club’s owner, is keen to extend Mané’s and Salah’s outstanding Anfield careers.
Mané said: “Honestly, the answer I can give you now is I feel very good, and I am fully focused on Saturday’s game. That is the answer I must give before the end. But come back to me on Saturday and I will give you the best answer you want to hear, for sure. It’s special. I will give you all you want to hear then. For now, let’s go win it because I have no time for other things. I will do everything possible to win it because it is my and all the boys’ biggest dream, then I will give you the answers.”
A second Champions League triumph with Liverpool would enrich an already stunning season for Mané, who won the Africa Cup of Nations for Senegal, guided his country into the World Cup finals and lifted the FA and Carabao Cups. The achievements have strengthened his claims of him to win the Ballon d’Or for 2022 but Mané has lamented the lack of African representation in an award dominated by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for the past 13 years. Liberia’s George Weah, in 1995, was the first and so far only winner who played 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, asked whether he felt African players were ignored in the voting, replied: “It’s true, which is sad. This cup, the Africa Cup of Nations, is the biggest trophy I have won in my life and for an African player not to have won the Ballon d’Or since George Weah is sad, for sure.”
He hopes Saturday’s final could tip the vote in his favour. “We will do everything we can to win it and then we will see what happens with the Ballon d’Or,” he said. “I think myself and all the Liverpool players have targets from the beginning of the season, which is to go for all the trophies. So far we have won two, and missed one, which is behind us now, and Manchester City fully deserved it. And to win the Champions League would be special for me and for all the other boys.
“This is what we focus on, and we have to do what we can to win. The rest you guys have to decide. For me it would be even more special to have another bonus which is the Ballon d’Or, and I would be the happiest player in the world.”
Mané insists there will be no pressure on Liverpool and, despite scoring in the 2018 final defeat by Real, it does not feel he has a score to settle. “It is not about revenge for me,” he said. “Real Madrid fully deserved to win that Champions League.
“They were the best team in the game. I forgot about it. It was four years ago, right? There have been lots of changes, we have more quality and we know more how to win the big games, how to control them. We are a different team and this will be a game that will be different from all the others.”
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism