Sadio Mane has been backed to win the Ballon d’Or this year by former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba, who will co-present the awards ceremony in December.

The Liverpool forward has been in scintillating form throughout the calendar year, helping his team to the Champions League in June and to the top of the Premier League table so far this season.

In addition to last season’s near-miss in the title fight, where the Reds lost out to Manchester City by a single point, Mane ended the season as the joint-top scorer, with 22 goals.

He then helped Senegal to the Africa Cup of Nations final over the summer, where they were eventually bested by Algeria.

Despite those margins meaning Mane missed out on a potential three-trophy haul, Drogba feels his consistency, goalscoring feats and European triumph all mean the attacker is well-placed to end a 24-year wait for a second African winner of the award.

T-30. Joao Felix (500/1)
Felix

“Sadio Mane,” he told Paris Match, when asked for his favourite to win. ”For the AFCON, the Champions League, and the league championship. What he does in the Premier League, very few players are able to do it.

“It is possible, but it would have been possible [for others to win] well before. There are many players who have represented well the African continent, like Samuel Eto’o.

“What is a pity is that when we talk about African players, we talk about the continent, we do not speak of a country. We will never say ‘Kylian Mbappe represents the European continent’. It is a small shift [in mentality] that is present.

“But to return to the question, it would be really nice that Sadio, or even Mohamed Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continue to raise their level of play to hope to win this trophy.

Mane is one of several Liverpool players in contention (Getty

Salah and Aubameyang jointly shared the Premier League Golden Boot with Mane last season, while Salah himself scored in the Champions League final in June.

Since then, Salah and Mane have added European Super Cup medals to their cabinets, further strengthening their claims. Drogba posed with lookalike son

Liverpool team-mates Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker are also seen as candidates to win, along with the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Raheem Sterling.