Mane should be in Ballon d'Or contention – Vieira

By Sports Desk June 17, 2022

Wantaway Liverpool forward Sadio Mane deserves to be in contention to win the Ballon d'Or, says Patrick Vieira. 

Mane, who has been widely linked with a move to German champions Bayern Munich after Liverpool announced the signing of Benfica attacker Darwin Nunez, scored 23 goals as the Reds won the EFL Cup and FA Cup last season.

He was also decisive as Senegal claimed their first Africa Cup of Nations title in February before leading his national team to World Cup qualification the following month. 

Those exploits have led to suggestions he could compete with Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema to be named the world's best player later this year, and Arsenal legend and Crystal Palace manager Vieira thinks his wide-ranging abilities put him in contention.

"Sadio Mane is part of the new generation of attackers who knows how to do everything," Vieira told the Diambars Institute, a football academy in Senegal.

"He scores goals, he knows how to defend, he knows how to run in depth. He is a hard worker in the field. 

"He is one of the modern attackers. For me, he should be considered for the Ballon d'Or.

"He is one of those great players who can win it. I saw him every weekend in the Premier League and for me, he is one of the great European strikers."

Having won six trophies in a six-year spell at Anfield, Mane is expected to move to Bayern in the current transfer window, perhaps as a replacement for Barcelona-linked striker Robert Lewandowski.

Asked about such rumours, Vieira said Mane will make the best decision for his career. 

"I think he has his head on his shoulders to make the best decision," the Frenchman added.

"Should he stay or go? It's up to him to make that decision. But he is a player that I admire in relation to his talent as a footballer, but also in relation to his talent as a man."

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    After the final whistle sounded and the managers came together to shake hands, Tuchel refused to let go, indicating he did not appreciate Conte's lack of eye-contact, sparking an exchange where the pair had to be separated, and both were shown red cards.

    When queried about the altercation after the game, Tuchel insisted that "it's between two competitors and nothing bad happened" and implied things were being blown out of proportion.

    Conte said he believes the video of the situation exonerates him from any blame, and even implied the next time these sides meet there may not be a handshake, saying "next time we will pay more attention and don't shake the hands and we solve the problem… he stays in his bench, I stay in my bench, with my staff on one side and no problem about this."

    He added: "For sure I am not passive. If I see aggressivity, then my answer is with aggressivity, but I repeat this is not a problem."

    In the hours after the match, Conte took to Instagram to post a story of Tuchel running down the sideline while celebrating James' go-ahead goal to make light of the situation, captioning it: "Lucky I didn't see you… making you trip over would have been well deserved" followed by three laughing smiley faces, indicating it is meant with a tongue-in-cheek tone.

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    Almeria had won just one of their 12 games against Madrid in LaLiga prior to Sunday's clash, but they looked like they might earn a famous victory thanks to Ramazani's early strike and some inspired goalkeeping from Fernando.

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    Fantastic Fernando

    Fernando can consider himself exceptionally unlucky to have finished on the losing side. The 32-year-old made an incredible 13 saves to frustrate the visitors, but there was little he could do about Madrid's two decisive strikes.

    What's next?

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