Sadio Mane would have won the Ballon d’Or if he was not African, Crystal Palace midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate believes.
The Senegal winger finished fourth in the running for the prestigious prize, behind Lionel Messi, Liverpool teammate Virgil van Dijk and Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo.
Mane played an instrumental part in Liverpool’s sixth European Cup triumph and helped them to their best ever points tally in the Premier League (97), scoring 54 goals for club and country last term.
And his Senegal teammate and Crystal Palace midfielder Kouyate insists Mane would have landed the award had he been ‘Brazilian or European’.
He told The Mirror: “For me this Ballon d’Or is for Sadio Mane, there is no doubt about that.
“Listen, if Sadio was a Brazilian or a European there would not have been no debate.
Grealish urged to quit Villa, Man United's transfer needs revealed, Spurs latest
Man United fan says Solskjaer will win Premier League title in next three years
Chelsea identify no.1 January target ahead of transfer ban appeal verdict
Everton could be in relegation danger after nightmare run, fears Toffees hero
Alexander-Arnold makes scary admission and even reveals problem with City win
Man United to be offered £42m plus Brazil wonderkid as Real Madrid plot Pogba deal
Neville 'fears' for Solskjaer and explains what Man United must buy in January
Biggest local derbies by passion and ferocity from Manchester to Merseyside
Man United coach discusses transfer plans and insists: 'We still want superstars'
How Man United could look against Tottenham with Martial possibly joining injury list
Messi's mum admits Ballon d'Or was 'beautiful surprise' with Van Dijk beaten to award
Watching Liverpool blow a 12-point lead in March would make Gary Neville very happy
“It would have been him for the award straight away and it’s not because I play with him at international level, or because I know him, it’s just what people who watch football feel.
“Just go back and watch what he did for both club and country and you will see in between the lines that no one has been better than him.
“We all know that Messi is really good, maybe the greatest player, but last season come on.
“Maybe I have to speak to him to up his social media game and start wearing expensive stuff to stand a better chance.
“Maybe it’s not just football that they look at because there is no way three people had a better season than him.
“It’s just unbelievable how some people are judged but that is not fair.”
Liverpool and Mane are back in action on Wednesday night when they face Everton in the Merseyside derby.
Jurgen Klopp’s men are hoping to extend their lead at the top of the Premier League, having seen Man City move back to within eight points of the Reds with a defeat of Burnley on Tuesday.