The four-time African Footballer of the Year made a case on why the Liverpool duo won’t win the coveted individual honour this year.
Barcelona and Inter Milan legend Samuel Eto’o has decried the lack of respect given to African stars on the global scene despite their achievements.
Eto’o, who recently called time on his successful football career, weighed in on the likely winners of the 2019 Ballon d’Or.
The Cameroon legend, though worried they might be chopped off from the selection, backed Liverpool duo Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to make the final five shortlist after their incredible 2018-19 season in the Premier League where they finished as joint top scorers with 22 goals each.
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Although Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have dominated the individual award in past years with five awards each and still stand as favourites for the prize, Eto’o cited Liverpool’s Champions League triumph as a major advantage for the African duo in Jurgen Klopp’s team but does not see it happening.
Despite the titles won and the plethora of goals scored in his 22-year career, the 38-year-old did not win the Ballon d’Or and he lamented the manner at which Africans bring themselves down.
“We are only good to denigrate our own brothers. We are not respected,” Eto’o told RFI.
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“It’s a fact. I hope I’m wrong, but the next Ballon d’Or will be neither Mane nor Salah.
“There is no explanation that Mane, Salah or Aubameyang, the top three scorers of the Premier League last season may not even be among the top five.
“Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are both very strong, but this season who won the Champions League? It’s Mane and Salah.”
Eto’o is widely regarded as an icon of African football and holds several records on the continent including the most goals scored at the Africa Cup of Nations with a total of 18 efforts across six tournaments.