(Credit: Marca)

Sadio Mane’s journey to stardom has been difficult, long, and unprecedented, but he’s definitely made his presence felt at the highest level of this sport by taking the English Premier Leauge for assault.

However, his best efforts weren’t enough to help him win the Ballon d’Or, finishing 4th in the voting behind Lionel Messi, his teammate Virgil van Dijk, and Cristiano Ronaldo.

And that’s why Messi, who openly voted for him for ‘The Best’ award, took a minute to praise Mane and prove why he’s such a valuable player, claiming it was a huge shame to see him finish that low:

“It’s a shame to see Mane finish in fourth place. But I think there have been a lot of great players this year. That’s why it was difficult to choose a particular player. But I chose Sadio Mane (for The Best award) because he’s a player that I like. Mane achieved a great year that was exceptional for the entire Liverpool team. That’s why I chose him. I repeat, there were a lot of very great players this year, so the choice was difficult,” the Argentinean told Canal+ Sport Africa.

Mane has been tied with a move to Real Madrid and Barcelona for quite some time, but the Senegalese forward has made it clear over and over that he’s quite comfortable at Anfield and not looking to leave Jurgen Klopp’s team any time soon.

Mane arrived at Liverpool in 2015 for 41 million and he’s definitely paid back until the last dime of his transfer, becoming one of the most disruptive offensive players in the world ever since and helping them win a UEFA Champions League.

This season, he’s scored 13 goals and handed out 7 assists in 21 caps for the Reds, so there’s no wonder why even Messi thinks he’s an elite player.