Ex-Arsenal and Barcelona forward Thierry Henry believes Liverpool forward Sadio Mane should be considered as a contender for the Ballon d’Or.
While he still backs Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema as the favourite for the prize, Henry thinks Mane does deserve to be in the mix as well:
“If you think about the final and to make it even bigger, the two favourites for the Ballon d’Or are Sadio Mane and Karim Benzema. That will add a little extra spice into it. I still believe that Benzema is ahead, but if Mane wins it with Liverpool and they do make the quadruple, that would be a pretty strong case. It would be great for Africa, but I’m still going with Benzema.”
Henry makes no mention of Mane’s teammate Mo Salah, which is very surprising, considering the Egyptian international’s exploits this season.
There is likely to be some recency bias in Henry’s assessment. Salah was outstanding in the first half of the campaign but his form has dropped off since then.
In contrast, Mane helped his country Senegal win the African Cup of Nations at the start of the year, and he has kicked on in recent months, contributing some crucial goals and assists for Liverpool during the run-in.
If we look at things dispassionately, though, Henry is probably right to say Benzema is the leading candidate at the moment. He has been phenomenal for Real Madrid this season. Of course, the Champions League final could also have a bearing on who wins the Ballon d’Or so we shall see who lifts Europe’s top prize later this month.