African All Stars

Van der Sar chooses Mane over Benzema for Ballon d'Or

13:19 EAT 22/04/2022
The Senegal international has received backing from an unlikely source to win the individual prize

Former Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar thinks Liverpool forward Sadio Mane should be considered for the Ballon d’Or award ahead of Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema.

The retired Dutch shot-stopper, now chief executive of Ajax, says Mane has shown his importance to both Senegal and Liverpool this season but he is not getting the credit he deserves.

"Benzema Ballon d’Or? For me it’s no. Wait, there’s a player currently doing just as well as Benzema and no one is talking about him,” Van der Sar said, during a Twitter space last week as quoted by Africatopsports.

He added: “Do you know Sadio Mane? Along with [Mohamed] Salah, Sadio has been Liverpool’s best player for several seasons now. If any player should win the Ballon d’Or, it’s him.”

That high praise for Mane, who has 19 goals and three assists in 42 games for Liverpool this season, over Benzema (38 goals and 13 assists in 38 games) has left opinion divided among fans online.

“Love Sadio but he's not even having the best season of the Liverpool front three. Liverpool without Mane would still be a top team, Real without Benzema would be in the Europa League,” said @bruceford27, who thinks Benzema is way ahead of Mane.

But @shotgunloverr disagreed. “Liverpool without Mane wouldn't be in the FA Cup final, would be maybe third, wouldn't have a Carabao Cup title. Senegal without Mane would not have an Afcon and aren't in the World cup. He's having a fantastic season,” he said, enumerating Mane’s recent achievements.

“Mane is doing well but not as well as Benzema!! Benzema is higher,” responded @benramdaneomar9 with @RichYoung2020 also in agreement with him, “Benzema is doing outrageously well.”

@GottfriedEiseb feels Mane is up there with the best. “There are some idiots who will nominate [Lionel] Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo again as top five candidates. Mane deserves a nomination for the top three,” was his assessment.

“Sadio who?” posed @Kamal1442, perhaps wondering why the Senegalese is being touted for the Ballon d’Or while @SirGoddey agreed with Van der Sar, saying briefly, “True statement.”

“Just the king,” said @Sm10Junior in support of Mane.

While Van der Sar’s sentiments are likely to raise further debate, there is no denying Mane’s importance to both Senegal and Liverpool, especially this year.

Mane scored decisive penalties for Senegal when they won a maiden Africa Cup of Nations title as well as sealing a World Cup ticket, at the expense of Egypt on both occasions, and his goals have kept Liverpool in the hunt for an unprecedented quadruple.