Robert Lewandowski says he can never be compared to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in terms of longevity but joked he is now the one sitting at football's top table.

The prolific Bayern Munich striker was named The Best FIFA Men's Player for 2020 last week thanks to his sensational form over the past year for treble-winning Bayern.

Messi and Ronaldo had won the award in three of its four prior editions, though it was Poland international Lewandowski who claimed the top prize this time around.

In terms of wider honours, Messi has won six Ballons d'Or to Ronaldo's five, the pair having gone head-to-head in a fierce battle to be the world's best for more than a decade.

But Lewandowski feels he can now be considered in the same conversation as two of the game's all-time greats on the basis of his goalscoring figures in recent years.

"Messi and Ronaldo have been sitting at the same table, at the top, for a very long time, and that's what makes them incomparable," he told France Football.

"So to answer your question, I can't imagine myself next to them in this point of view. 

"That said, if you take the numbers for this year and even previous ones, I think I'm pretty good in terms of performance and goals scored. 

"Failing to be at the same table as Messi and Ronaldo, I think I can invite them to eat at mine!"

Lewandowski scored 60 club goals at a rate of one every 76 minutes between July 20, 2019 and October 7, 2020 - the period considered for this year's FIFA Best award.

That tally, from 52 Bayern appearances, was 20 more than any other player in Europe's top five leagues.

Juventus star Ronaldo was tied with Ciro Immobile on 40 goals, while Barcelona forward Messi (32) trailed Romelu Lukaku (37), Timo Werner (35) and Raheem Sterling (34).

Lewandowski has scored 17 goals in the first 13 Bundesliga matchdays this season, meanwhile, to equal the record set by Gerd Muller in 1968-69 and 1976-77. 

And despite now being 32 years of age, he intends to continue evolving in order to maintain his high performance levels.

"I have a desire to progress and that's even more important because I know that my time is limited," he said. 

"Obviously, progress is not instantaneous. When you repeat something every day, you can only measure its effect three or six months later, not the next day. 

"The problem is, a lot of people want what you do in invisible work to be seen immediately. Patience is an important virtue, in football as in life."

Karl-Heinz Rummenigge warned Leroy Sane must show more desire and says Bayern Munich will be prepared to "kick his butt" if needed to get the best out of their big-money signing.

Sane has endured a difficult start to his time at Bayern and hit a new low when he was hauled off after being introduced as a substitute to replace the injured Kingsley Coman in the first half of a dramatic 2-1 win at Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.

The winger, signed on a five-year deal for an initial fee of €49million (£44.5m) - rising to €60m (£54.5m) - from Manchester City in July, spent just 36 minutes on the field at BayArena.

Sane had been criticised by the great Lothar Matthaus ahead of the game and Bayern coach Hansi Flick also said the 24-year-old must offer more in order to force his way into the team.

The Bundesliga champions' chief executive Rummenigge says Sane has to raise his game and work harder to be a success at the club, who on Sunday revealed Coman's hamstring injury is not serious.

He told SPORT1: "Leroy was not happy [to be taken off], that's clear and understandable. God gave him incredible talents. I only believe one thing: he has not yet reached this FC Bayern gene.

"Like Thomas Muller, he was my hero yesterday. He has marched up and down, but not as protected by talent as Leroy. He has to work on that, that is his job.

"We have done everything we can to ensure that he comes to Bayern. We encourage every player, but we also challenge. He has to internalise that and the team supports him.

"He has to take the next step, Leroy has to adapt his character to FC Bayern. This character is: you forgive everything, but you have to give the impression that you are throwing everything into the balance in order to leave the field as the winner. He will have to learn that."

Rummenigge added: "I believe that he can have a big future at FC Bayern. We are ready to help him, to encourage him, but he also has to challenge himself in order to get to where he can be. We will, if necessary, kick his butt to get him there."

Sane lost possession nine times in his short time on the field, completed 15 of his 19 passes (78.9 per cent) and conceded two fouls, more than any other Bayern player.

Robert Lewandowski's last-gasp goal, his second of the game, consigned Leverkusen to a first defeat of the season to ensure Bayern will end 2020 two points clear at the top of the table.

Cristiano Ronaldo became only the fourth player score at least 33 Serie A goals in a calendar year by bagging a brace in Juventus' 4-0 win over Parma.

The 35-year-old scored in each half as Juve cruised to a victory that moved them level on points with Inter and one adrift of leaders Milan, both of whom play their game in hand on Sunday.

Ronaldo equalled former Juventus forward Omar Sivori's goal haul from 1961 - the joint-third most in a single year behind Gunnar Nordahl (36 in 1950) and Felice Borel (41 in 1933).

He could move further up the list as Juventus have one more league match to play in 2020 - a home meeting with Fiorentina on Tuesday.

Ronaldo's 33 goals have come from 174 attempts - at least 67 more than any other player - giving him a shot conversion rate of 27.73, which compares to 28.26 for Ciro Immobile, who is the next highest scorer this year in Serie A with 26 for Lazio.

The Portugal international has scored 27 with his stronger right foot, four with his left and two via his head.

Robert Lewandowski, named The Best FIFA Men's Player of the Year on Thursday, has 32 Bundesliga goals for Bayern Munich since January 1, while Barcelona star Lionel Messi has just 18 in LaLiga in the same timeframe.

Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller hope Bayern Munich will see the best of Leroy Sane next year after the winger was substituted on and off against Bayer Leverkusen.

Sane has had a tough time since joining Bayern from Manchester City for an initial €49million in July, being restricted to just five Bundesliga starts.

He was once again named on the bench for Saturday's trip to the BayArena but was introduced just after the half-hour mark for the injured Kingsley Coman.

However, the Germany international lasted only 36 minutes on the field before being taken off for Jamal Musiala with the game poised at 1-1 and Bayern chasing a goal.

Sane cut a frustrated figure as he made his way back to the bench but head coach Hansi Flick felt he had no other choice but to make the tough call.

"It wasn't a punishment," he said at his post-match news conference. "I had to make a sub, and the options were either Thomas Muller, Serge Gnabry or Leroy.

"Thomas is indispensable for our system, Serge really got into the game in the second half. So I had to sub Leroy off.

"Ultimately, it's about the success of the team above the individuals. We support Leroy in every way possible."

Sane lost possession nine times, completed 15 of his 19 passes (78.9 per cent) and conceded two fouls, which was more than any other Bayern player.

But Muller, who by comparison was successful with 38 of his 52 passes (73.1 per cent) and lost possession a joint team-high 20 times, leapt to his team-mate's defence.

"Hansi must have had his reasons," said Muller of Sane's withdrawal.

"Personally, I really enjoy playing with Leroy and I think we had more offensive moves down the right when he came on.

"I don't think it will be that long until we start talking about Leroy in a different way. He is very close to breaking through.

"He shouldn't get frustrated by this but motivated. It doesn't make it any easier that we're struggling a little as a team at the moment."

Sane creates an average of 0.7 big chances per 90 minutes he plays in the Bundesliga this season, which is bettered only by Coman (1.07) among Bayern players to have featured at least six times.

Only Douglas Costa (2.97) and Musiala (3.71) have completed more dribbles per 90 minutes than Sane's 2.45, meanwhile, and sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic is happy with the ex-City attacker's displays since recovering from a long-term lay-off.

"The guy is really a top player, he was injured for a long time," he said. "He also wants more from himself.

"The team will help him. I'm sure and I totally believe in him. He has qualities that he will hopefully show us in the first game of the new year."

Lewandowski scored twice against Leverkusen, including a 93rd-minute winner, after Patrik Schick had given the home side the lead.

The Poland international, whose 17 goals after 13 Bundesliga matchdays is a joint-record alongside Gerd Muller, also predicted a brighter future for Sane.

"He needs a bit of time," Lewandowski said. "Next year I'm sure he'll show his quality. I'll keep my fingers crossed for him - he's a great guy.

"He knows himself that he can benefit from a short break and we will need him going forward."

Leaders Bayern have trailed 1-0 in each of their past seven Bundesliga games - their longest ever such run - but will take a two-point lead into the mid-season break following their latest fightback.

Robert Lewandowski's last-gasp strike sent Bayern Munich top of the table as Bayer Leverkusen's unbeaten Bundesliga record this season was dramatically ended with a 2-1 defeat.

A stunning Patrik Schick volley put Leverkusen in front at BayArena on Saturday, but the European and Bundesliga champions came from behind to extend their unbeaten run to 19 matches and replace the hosts at the summit.

Lewandowski celebrated being crowned Best FIFA Men's Player for 2020 this week by taking advantage of a mix-up between Jonathan Tah and goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky to head home late in the first half.

The Poland striker won it with just about the last kick of the game, Tah punished for another mistake as Bayern went two points clear in their last game of the year.

Hansi Flick admitted he was "a little disappointed" to miss out on The Best FIFA Men's Coach award after Bayern Munich's stunning run of trophy success.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp edged out Flick to take the award on Thursday, after leading the Reds to a first English league title in 30 years.

Flick, who took over in mid-season last term when Niko Kovac left a flagging Bayern, guided the German giants to a treble consisting of Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League titles.

Bayern's achievements were reflected in Bayern's Robert Lewandowski winning the top player award and Manuel Neuer being named best goalkeeper in the world.

Flick would have been proud to join them as a winner but said: "We always take this like sportsmen. 'Kloppo' for sure deserved this title as well with his staff. The same as my staff would have deserved it."

Klopp admitted he had been surprised to pip his fellow German to the award, albeit grateful to secure another award, while Lewandowski said Bayern's players regarded Flick as the pick of the nominees.

Flick said: "Life goes on. Of course, we were a little disappointed last night, which is normal.

"If you get among the top three, you also want to win. We live in a society of performance, so we also would have liked to win.

"But everything goes on, we have new goals to attain. Now, this is closed. The team has attained exceptional results. With Manu [Neuer] and Robert, we have two of the best players.

"Robert as best footballer and Manu as best goalkeeper, and Joshua Kimmich, Alphonso Davies in the world XI ... Thiago [Alcantara] as well, although he is with Liverpool now unfortunately.

"So we can say that this has been an exceptional season for us." 

Hansi Flick's only chance to collect The Best FIFA Men's Coach award in future is if Bayern Munich find new competitions to win, Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho suggested.

Last season, Flick led Bayern to a Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League treble, while they have also lifted the UEFA Super Cup and DFL Super Cup in 2020.

So, a few eyebrows were raised when Flick was overlooked for best men's coach at FIFA's annual awards ceremony on Thursday, with Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp retaining the prize.

Klopp led Liverpool to a first English top-flight title in 30 years last term, but when addressing the media on Friday admitted his own surprise by saying: "I'm grateful for it, obviously. From the first moment, like everybody else, I was looking at it a bit wide-eyed, like, how did that happen?"

Mourinho, whose Tottenham side were beaten by Liverpool 2-1 on Wednesday, was asked about the decision when previewing Spurs' clash with Leicester City.

"I think the only chance for Flick to win is that Bayern find two or three more new competitions to win it," Mourinho said with a laugh.

"So maybe if he wins seven titles in one season maybe he wins the award, because I believe he only won the Champions League, Bundesliga, Pokal, European Super Cup, German Super Cup - he only won five and the biggest one of all.

"So I think poor Flick the only chance is for Bayern to try and find two or three more trophies to see if he can win it."

Spurs' defeat to Liverpool saw Mourinho's side surrender top spot in the Premier League to the Reds, who they now trail by three points.

Many pundits have noted Tottenham's propensity to sit deep and play on the counter-attack this season, particularly in bigger matches.

Against Liverpool, Spurs had just 24.2 per cent possession, had 254 passes to Liverpool's 813 and had a pass accuracy of just 61.4 per cent.

The numbers were not dissimilar when Spurs triumphed 2-0 against Arsenal in the north London derby on December 6. On that occasion they had 30.2 per cent possession, 288 passes and 67.4 per cent passing accuracy.

Indeed, Spurs' average of 48.01 per cent possession is only 12th in the league this season, while they rank in the same spot for passing accuracy (80.39).

Mourinho, though, is mainly interested in one statistic, which is how many goals a team scores.

"You love the words possession and you love the stats," he told reporters.

"What tells me [about a team] is the number of goals you score and the number of chances that you create, so you can have less time with the ball but score more goals than your opponents, create better chances but for some reason not score in relation to this.

"This for me is the fundamental thing. In relation to the way we try to play, sometimes it's our decision, our game plan, other times it's our opponent that creates us this situation. 

"For example against Crystal Palace [a 1-1 draw] in the first 20 or 25 minutes of the second half it's not we tried to play that way, in fact we did exactly the opposite of what was the game plan. 

"Sometimes the game goes in a direction where the responsibility is the opponent, and in these situations I'm always supportive of my players when the opponent in some moments is just better than you and forces you to play in a way you don't want to do it."

Hansi Flick has been impressed by Bayer Leverkusen so far this season but remains confident Bayern Munich can come out on top in the battle of the Bundesliga's top two on Saturday. 

Leverkusen hold top spot in the table heading into the game at their BayArena home, the final outing for both clubs before the mid-season break in Germany. 

Peter Bosz's side are unbeaten after the opening 12 league games this season, the first time that has happened for them since the 2009-10 campaign. However, Bayern have won three of their last four games in Leverkusen, including a 4-2 triumph there in June. 

On the eve of the much-anticipated clash, Flick outlined the challenges his team will face on the road, though also made clear the size of the task facing Leverkusen - particularly if everyone for Bayern is at "100 per cent" for their final outing in a hugely successful 2020. 

"This is a strong team. Leverkusen has had a very, very good run," Flick told the media on Friday.  

"They have confidence and are in a good mood. The idea they have is a good one: they play for possession and are able to put their stamp on the game.  

"We need to be good defensively and make sure not to lose the ball. If everyone is 100 per cent there, it will be difficult for Leverkusen to beat us."

Kingsley Coman has certainly been at his peak so far in the campaign, providing a competition-high seven assists in the Bundesliga – already a new personal best for the Frenchman. 

The winger has had a hand in at least one goal in each of his previous five Bundesliga games for the first time, leading Flick to praise the player for his recent run of form. 

The Bayern boss hopes Douglas Costa, Serge Gnabry and Leroy Sane can raise their standards too, making clear the trio all have "room for improvement". 

Sane's form has come under close scrutiny in particular, the big-money signing from Manchester City having started only five league games so far, though he has contributed three goals and the same number of assists. 

Gnabry has found the net four times but is yet to set up a team-mate in 775 league minutes, while Costa has produced one goal and a solitary assist having seen less action than the other trio. 

"Kingsley Coman is currently the benchmark for everyone when it comes to scoring contributions," said Flick. 

"The other three - Costa, Gnabry and Sane - still have room for improvement. We hope that they will be close to 100 per cent tomorrow. That would help us a lot." 

Flick revealed Bayern will not rush back Joshua Kimmich from a knee injury suffered in early November, while Leon Goretzka will be assessed after training to see if he can feature against Leverkusen.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp expressed his shock at beating Bayern Munich counterpart Hansi Flick to The Best FIFA Men's Coach award.

Flick was considered the favourite for the gong ahead of Thursday's ceremony after guiding Bayern to a Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League treble last term.

But Klopp, who oversaw the Reds' Premier League title success in 2019-20, ending a 30-year wait for a top-flight championship, beat his compatriot to take the prize for a second successive year. Leeds United's Marcelo Bielsa came third.

The Liverpool boss accepted he was probably fortunate to see off competition from Flick.

"I'm grateful for it, obviously," he told reporters on Friday. "From the first moment, like everybody else, I was looking at it a bit wide-eyed, like, how did that happen?

"I didn't expect it, not at all, I thought Hansi Flick won pretty much everything in the last year and that that would be the case.

"I wanted to be there, to show respect, because last year in Milan when it was a really nice event – Mauricio Pochettino was there as well – and I thought that night that, if I would be nominated again, I would show up even if I have no chance to win it.

"Now with four different categories, more managers and players voted for me. The media and fans, more for Hansi Flick which I get completely – in the end it's not my choice.

"I'm happy for it, it's a special thing for my coaches and me, I saw them already, they are buzzing. If you would have asked me, 'are you the world's best coach?' I would have said no.

"If you would ask me, 'do you have the world's best coaches around you?' I would have said yes.

"We'll take an award like this, it's all good, there's more important things in the world but it's a nice one."

Earlier on Thursday, the Premier League announced clubs had voted to not increase the number of substitutions allowed per team in each game from three to five, despite the sport's lawmakers the International Football Association Board (IFAB) previously agreeing an extension to the rule.

Klopp had been arguably the most vocal manager in favour of increasing substitution allowance and he pointed the finger at the 10 clubs who opted against backing what he felt was an essential change for player welfare.

The Premier League did take up the option of increasing the numbers of substitutes available in a squad to nine from seven, though Klopp dismissed the importance of such a move.

"I think it's two different decisions, not a compromise," he added. "Come on, I don't want to create headlines, everybody knows my opinion about the case – you have to ask other people.

"There are 10 clubs that voted against it, everybody knows the 10 clubs. It was not about the competition, not about advantages, it was only about player welfare. They voted against it.

"Pretty much only them in Europe – maybe the world – voted against it.

"I don't know the percentage of leagues who have now five subs, I don't know exactly, but there must be a good reason for it.

"In all these leagues there is competition, every club wants to win the league, every club wants to stay in the league, but here is the only league that doesn't have it – the Championship decided differently. It's not for me to give an answer, you'll have to ask the other [teams]."

Robert Lewandowski was delighted to be recognised as The Best FIFA Men's Player in 2020 after "longing" for individual recognition.

The Bayern Munich striker beat Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to FIFA's top prize after firing the German champions to a stunning treble.

He scored 55 goals last season and 60 in the period considered for this honour, 20 more than Ronaldo and 28 clear of Messi.

Ronaldo had won the award twice before, while Messi was last year's top player, but this was a breakthrough triumph for Lewandowski.

"I feel fantastic," said Lewandowski, who was surprised with the trophy in person by FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Thursday.

"I am very proud and happy. To be honest, this is a great day for me, and also for my club and colleagues.

"This award also belongs to my colleagues, the coach and Bayern Munich in general. It is an incredible feeling, a lot of emotions.

"If you win such an award and share that title with Messi and Ronaldo, that is unbelievable and it means so much to me.

"A long time ago, I remember I was longing for something like this and now I can win such an award.

"This really means, regardless of where you come from, all that matters is what you put into it."

Lewandowski helped Bayern to the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League titles, with the European crown ranking as his best moment of 2020.

"For the entire world, this year was difficult," he said.

"The greatest highlight was winning the Champions League final - such a special day and evening, that was an incredible feeling. That was a great moment.

"Then we won the cup and got every title we could possibly win. We have a great coach, great team and we all work towards one goal."

Robert Lewandowski has been named The Best FIFA Men's Player for 2020.

The Bayern Munich striker was one of three finalists, along with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, ahead of Thursday's awards ceremony.

Messi, the 2019 winner, and Ronaldo had claimed the top prize in three of its four prior editions but were this time beaten by Bayern's treble-winner.

Lewandowski led the line as the Bundesliga giants won the league, DFB-Pokal and Champions League in 2019-20.

Between July 20, 2019 and October 7, 2020 - the period considered for this year's awards - the Poland international scored a stunning 60 club goals at a rate of one every 76 minutes.

This tally, from 52 Bayern appearances, was 20 more than any other player in Europe's 'top five' leagues.

While Ronaldo was second in this regard, tied with Ciro Immobile on 40 goals, Messi trailed Romelu Lukaku (37), Timo Werner (35) and Raheem Sterling (34).

The Barcelona captain's 32 goals were matched by Harry Kane and Kylian Mbappe.

FIFA recognition is particularly precious for Lewandowski this year after the coronavirus pandemic prompted the Ballon d'Or to be cancelled in the best season of his career.

Lewandowski had never previously won either award, although he was the UEFA Men's Player of the Year last season, making him the clear favourite here ahead of Messi and Ronaldo.

Robert Lewandowski has been named The Best FIFA Men's Player for 2020.

The Bayern Munich striker was one of three finalists, along with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, ahead of Thursday's awards ceremony.

Messi, the 2019 winner, and Ronaldo had claimed the top prize in three of its four prior editions but were this time beaten by Bayern's treble-winner.

Lewandowski led the line as the Bundesliga giants won the league, DFB-Pokal and Champions League in 2019-20.

Between July 20, 2019 and October 7, 2020 - the period considered for this year's awards - the Poland international scored a stunning 60 club goals at a rate of one every 76 minutes.

This tally, from 52 Bayern appearances, was 20 more than any other player in Europe's 'top five' leagues.

While Ronaldo was second in this regard, tied with Ciro Immobile on 40 goals, Messi trailed Romelu Lukaku (37), Timo Werner (35) and Raheem Sterling (34).

The Barcelona captain's 32 goals were matched by Harry Kane and Kylian Mbappe.

FIFA recognition is particularly precious for Lewandowski this year after the coronavirus pandemic prompted the Ballon d'Or to be cancelled in the best season of his career.

Lewandowski had never previously won either award, although he was the UEFA Men's Player of the Year last season, making him the clear favourite here ahead of Messi and Ronaldo.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski were named in the attack for the 2020 FIFA FIFPro Men's World11.

The trio were all finalists for The Best FIFA Men's Player award and so were unsurprisingly included in the FIFPro Men's World11.

The chief shock elsewhere in the team saw Alisson preferred in goal to Manuel Neuer.

Neuer, who captained Bayern Munich to the treble, had earlier been named The Best FIFA Men's Goalkeeper, beating Alisson and Jan Oblak to the award.

The Germany skipper had said: "It's one of the best years of my career, of course. We were so confident with our team and it's amazing what we have done in this year, 2020, especially in the summer when we played together in Lisbon [in the Champions League]."

In a team voted for by the players, Alisson was joined by Liverpool team-mates Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk and Thiago Alcantara.

Thiago spent the majority of the year with Bayern, who were represented by Alphonso Davies and Joshua Kimmich as well as Lewandowski.

Sergio Ramos and Kevin De Bruyne completed the line-up.


FIFA FIFPro Men's World11: Alisson; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Sergio Ramos, Alphonso Davies; Joshua Kimmich, Kevin De Bruyne, Thiago Alcantara; Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski were named in the attack for the 2020 FIFA FIFPro Men's World XI.

The trio were all finalists for The Best FIFA Men's Player award and so were unsurprisingly included in the World XI.

The chief shock elsewhere in the team saw Alisson preferred in goal to Manuel Neuer.

Neuer, who captained Bayern Munich to the treble, had earlier been named The Best FIFA Men's Goalkeeper, beating Alisson and Jan Oblak to the award.

The Germany skipper had said: "It's one of the best years of my career, of course. We were so confident with our team and it's amazing what we have done in this year, 2020, especially in the summer when we played together in Lisbon [in the Champions League]."

In a team voted for by the players, Alisson was joined by Liverpool team-mates Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk and Thiago Alcantara.

Thiago spent the majority of the year with Bayern, who were represented by Alphonso Davies and Joshua Kimmich as well as Lewandowski.

Sergio Ramos and Kevin De Bruyne completed the line-up.


FIFA FIFPro Men's World XI: Alisson; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Sergio Ramos, Alphonso Davies; Joshua Kimmich, Kevin De Bruyne, Thiago Alcantara; Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski, Cristiano Ronaldo.

Jurgen Klopp has won The Best FIFA Men's Coach award for the second year running after Liverpool's breakthrough Premier League triumph.

Klopp oversaw the Reds' title success in 2019-20, ending a 30-year wait for a top-flight championship.

FIFA recognition for 2020 follows his win in the same award 12 months earlier after Liverpool won the Champions League.

The Liverpool manager pipped Hansi Flick, the Bayern Munich coach, and Leeds United's Marcelo Bielsa on this occasion.

Flick came up short despite guiding Bayern to the treble, with glory in the Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal and Champions League.

Remarkably, he was still assistant to Niko Kovac on July 20, 2019 when the period under consideration for the award began.

Klopp clearly anticipated a Flick win in the top coaching award as he responded to Thursday's announcement with surprise.

"I am [shocked]," he said. "I was just sitting here because last year I won it, so then I show everybody the respect when I'm nominated and show up wherever it is."

Told again at the end of his acceptance speech that he was The Best FIFA Men's Coach, Klopp replied: "I'm not but I won the award, so that's good enough."

Liverpool moved back top of the Premier League on Wednesday with a dramatic 2-1 home win over title rivals Tottenham.

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