Lionel Messi was awarded the FIFA Best Men’s Player Award in 2019 but Alain Giresse maintained that the season for Sadio Mane was better.
Liverpool forward Sadio Mane was more worthy of the Best FIFA Men’s Player award in 2019 than Barcelona player Lionel Messi, the great Alain Giresse of France put it.
Although guiding Barca to the glory of LaLiga and the semi-finals of the Champions League last season, Messi won the accolade for the sixth time back in September – he was named FIFA World Player of the Year in 2009 and claimed four Ballons d’Or before being recognized by the governing body of world football.
Mane placed fourth in the poll, behind team-mates of Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Mohamed Salah, and Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo.
Yet Giresse, who guided Mane during his time in charge of Senegal between 2013 and 2015, insists that the 28-year-old would have finished top on his way to glory in the Champions League after starring for Liverpool.
He said to ESPN: “I should have certainly put Sadio Mane ahead of Messi, in terms of the season they had last season. When I was Senegal’s head coach, Sadio was still young but he had a huge potential, technical potential, and moral potential ahead of him to become a great player, as he has become today.”
Giresse, who was named French Player of the Year three times in the 1980s, was Tunisia’s head coach until August and would have had the right to vote.
“I wasn’t having the ballot sheet, and it wasn’t me who voted [on behalf of Tunisia]. I can’t say who did, but it wasn’t me,” he said.
Ronaldo was the top pick assigned to Giresse, with Van Dijk second and Messi sixth.
The former Bordeaux and Marseille midfielder Giresse also guided Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at the international level with Gabon.
Aubameyang shared the Premier League Golden Boot with Mane and Salah last season and Giresse claims the Arsenal forward is now among the best in the world.
He said: “At the beginning of its development, its expansion, and its progression, I launched Pierre-Emerick with the Gabon national team. We can all see his path and the level he has now reached. We ‘re talking about moving him to Real Madrid so it shows how this player has reached a world-class level, and you could say the same about Sadio.”