Liverpool star Sadio Mane deserved to at least finish in the top three for the Ballon d’Or, according to Senegal team-mate Idrissa Gueye.
As Lionel Messi claimed a record sixth Ballon d’Or on Monday, Mane finished fourth behind the Barcelona forward, Liverpool team-mate Virgil van Dijk and Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo.
Paris Saint-Germain and Senegal midfielder Gueye believes Mane deserved more after his stellar year.
“He deserved to be on the podium,” Gueye said after PSG’s 2-0 Ligue 1 win over Nantes on Wednesday.
“For me, he deserved the Ballon d’Or or at least the podium. Unfortunately, he is fourth and that’s a shame. I feel sad for him.
“It is a source of pride for all of Senegal. With what he did last season, he really deserved better.”
Mane again showed his class for Liverpool on Wednesday, scoring once and providing two assists in a 5-2 Merseyside derby win over Everton at Anfield.
The 27-year-old has scored 13 goals and provided four assists in 21 games in all competitions this season.
Gueye isn’t the only person that believes the Liverpool star deserved greater Ballon d’Or recognition with Cheikhou Kouyate suggesting if Mane was Brazilian or European he would have won the award.
“For me this Ballon d’Or is for Sadio Mane, there is no doubt about that,” Kouyate told the Mirror.
“Listen, if Sadio was a Brazilian or a European there would not have been no debate.
“It would have been him for the award straight away and it’s not because I play with him at international level, or because I know him; it’s just what people who watch football feel.
“Just go back and watch what he did for both club and country and you will see in between the lines that no one has been better than him.
“We all know that Messi is really good, maybe the greatest player, but last season, come on.”
Mane’s next chance to impress will come on Saturday as the Reds travel to Bournemouth with Jurgen Klopp’s side currently eight points clear at the top of the Premier League table.
Liverpool’s last league loss now dates back to January – a club record run of 32 matches without defeat.