Sadio Mane would have won the Ballon d'Or if he was European or Brazilian, according to the Liverpool forward's Senegal team-mate Cheikhou Kouyate.

Mane came fourth in the final standings with 347 votes from the panel of world football journalists, behind winner Lionel Messi (686 votes) of Barcelona, Liverpool team-mate Virgil van Dijk (679) and Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo (476).

As well as helping his team to Champions League glory in June, Mane has continually excelled in domestic action for the Premier League's runaway leaders and Kouyate, who was part of the Palace team that lost 2-1 to Mane's Liverpool in November, suggested the 27-year-old was overlooked due to an anti-African bias.

"For me this Ballon d'Or is for Sadio Mane, there is no doubt about that," Kouyate told The Mirror.

"Listen, if Sadio was a Brazilian or a European there would not have been no debate.

"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."

Mane was instrumental in Senegal's run to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations, scoring three goals in five appearances before they were beaten 1-0 by Algeria at the last hurdle.

Kouyate added: "We all know that Messi is really good, maybe the greatest player, but last season, come on.

"Maybe it's not just football that they look at because there is no way three people had a better season than him [Mane].

"It's just unbelievable how some people are judged but that is not fair."

 

Mohamed Salah is targeting a third consecutive African Player of the Year trophy after being named on the preliminary list of nominees for the 2019 award.

Salah defended his crown last year after scoring 44 goals for Liverpool and Egypt in 2018 and finishing as the 2017-18 Premier League Golden Boot winner with 32 goals.

The 27-year-old faces competition for this year's honour from Reds team-mate Sadio Mane. The Senegal international was joint top scorer in the Premier League last season with 22 goals alongside Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has also been named on the 30-strong list.

Manchester City and Algeria forward Riyad Mahrez, who won the award in 2016, is also included on the list announced by the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

Aubameyang's Arsenal colleague Nicolas Pepe of the Ivory Coast is another on the list, along with Leicester City's Nigerian midfielder Wilfred Ndidi and Paris Saint-Germain's Idrissa Gueye, who represents Senegal.

Other prominent Europe-based players nominated are Ajax duo Andre Onana and Hakim Ziyech, Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly, Atletico Madrid's Thomas Partey and Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha.

Liverpool and Senegal forward Sadio Mane deserves to win the 2019 Ballon d'Or after a standout 12 months for club and country, according to Didier Drogba.

Mane started all 13 matches in Liverpool's glorious Champions League campaign last term and finished joint-top-scorer in the Premier League as his side missed out on the title by a point.

The 27-year-old then helped Senegal to the Africa Cup of Nations final, where they were beaten 1-0 by Algeria.

Mane has started 2019-20 in impressive form, too, and was this week included on the 30-man shortlist for the Ballon d'Or alongside six Liverpool team-mates.

He has Drogba's backing, as the former Chelsea explained to Paris Match.

"For the Cup of Nations, the Champions League and the Premier League [Mane deserves to win]," Drogba said. "What he does in the Premier League, very few players are able to do it."

George Weah is the only previous African player to have won the sport's top individual accolade, doing so in 1995, and Drogba is keen to see a new name in that select group.

"There are many players who have well represented the African continent, like Samuel Eto'o," he said.

"What is a pity is that when we talk about African player, 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 that is present.

"But to return to the question, it would be really nice if Sadio or even Mohamed Salah continue to raise their level of play to hope to win this trophy."

Tite admitted he is struggling to get the most out of his players after Brazil's winless streak stretched to a third match with Thursday's 1-1 draw against Senegal.

Famara Diedhiou scored a penalty late in the first half of the friendly international to cancel out Roberto Firmino's ninth-minute opener at the Singapore National Stadium.

Brazil drew 2-2 with Colombia and lost 1-0 to Peru in last month's friendlies and are on their longest wait for a victory since 2013.

The Copa America champions nearly fell to back-to-back losses as Sadio Mane struck the post for Senegal, leaving coach Tite to accept the criticism aimed his way.

"We were below what we can do. The squad played less than what it can play," Tite said at his post-match news conference.

"It was less competitive than what it can be. The squad can give more than this. This wasn't a good game.

"We need to get results. When we don't, criticism emerges and I have to be mature enough to absorb it."

Tite used a 4-4-2 formation in Singapore, with Neymar starting alongside Firmino in attack.

Neymar earned his 100th cap for Brazil and almost marked the landmark appearance with a goal, only for Alfred Gomis to keep out his effort in first-half stoppage time.

Asked about the Paris Saint-Germain forward's performance, Tite said: "He is getting back to his normal patterns.

"We are also making adjustments for him in the 4-4-2 system, as we're doing within the whole team."

Brazil return to action on Sunday with a friendly against Nigeria at the same ground.

Thiago Silva expressed concern about Brazil's form after a 1-1 draw against Senegal on Thursday left them winless in three matches for the first time since 2013.

Copa America champions Brazil took the lead against Senegal through Roberto Firmino after nine minutes in Singapore, but Famara Diedhiou fired home a penalty before half-time following Marquinhos' foul on Sadio Mane.

The Selecao, who drew with Colombia and lost to Peru in the previous international break, were unable to find a winner in the friendly international – Neymar seeing Alfred Gomis deny him a goal to mark his 100th cap in first-half stoppage time.

It could have been worse for Brazil had Mane's 20-yard effort with five minutes remaining not been kept out by the post, with Silva frustrated by their struggles in the final third.

"If I said I wasn't bothered, I would be lying. Unfortunately, in the last three games we have failed to show our best selves," Silva said in a post-match interview.

"I think we had the best chances but we were lacking a finish. It was a very equal game. We came up short on the last pass.

"We have to try to look at what went wrong and be more clinical with the last ball.

"Our opponents are more focused and studying our team. We have to get out of this rut."

Brazil will return to Singapore's National Stadium on Sunday to face Nigeria. Dani Alves suggested the heat, humidity and time zone played a role in a sluggish performance from the Selecao.

"I don't believe quality was missing. The opponents also played well and have good players," said right-back Alves.

"The circumstances were difficult. We have an 11-hour time difference [between Brazil and Singapore]; it's really hot. It's not an excuse, but it affects you.

"It is never easy to win. We are doing our best, but of course winning makes it easier to keep working."

Brazil were unable to mark Neymar's 100th cap with a win as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Senegal in humid conditions in Singapore on Thursday.

Neymar has scored four goals in his past five matches for Paris Saint-Germain but was unable to continue that form with the Selecao, failing to convert any of the chances that came his way.

Brazil moved ahead early at the National Stadium through Roberto Firmino's cool finish, but Sadio Mane won a penalty that Famara Diedhiou dispatched before the break.

Tite's team struggled to work clear openings in the second half and are now winless in three games – their worst run since 2013.

Brazil took a ninth-minute lead when Gabriel Jesus skipped inside of Racine Coly and slid a throughball into the box that Firmino dinked beyond Alfred Gomis.

A loose touch from Dani Alves' no-look pass enabled Salif Sane to deny Philippe Coutinho a shot at goal, while Mane sent a powerful drive straight at Ederson in Senegal's first real opening.

Mane remained lively and his driving run into the box off the right drew a foul from Marquinhos. Diedhiou slammed the resulting penalty into the bottom-left corner in first-half stoppage time.

Brazil's newest centurion Neymar was unable to finish off a pass from Firmino before half-time and Jesus felt he deserved a penalty when Gomis sent him to ground after he got a shot away in the 53rd minute.

Jesus was disappointed Kalidou Koulibaly was only cautioned for tugging him back as the last man, with Neymar sending the free-kick narrowly over.

Tite brought on Everton and Richarlison in a bid to revitalise Brazil's attack, while midfielder Matheus Henrique replaced Arthur for his senior debut.

Much of the second-half in the energy-sapping conditions was played at a sluggish pace, but Mane went close to an 85th-minute winner when his 20-yard drive crashed against the post.

Neymar had a shot deflected over – though no corner was given – and Richarlison fired wide as Brazil came up short with belated attempts to avoid a draw.

What does it mean? Strife for Tite

Having come from behind to draw 2-2 with Colombia and lost 1-0 to Peru during the previous international break, Brazil's failure to defeat Senegal will no doubt lead to an increase in the pressure on Tite.

The Selecao are without a win since winning the Copa America in July and the coach will be desperate to turn things around as soon as possible.

Mane impresses

While his Liverpool team-mate Firmino opened the scoring, it was Mane who left a greater mark on the game. The Senegal attacker was a consistent threat either side of winning the penalty that got his team back on terms.

Coly exposed

After being beaten so easily by Jesus ahead of the opener, Coly struggled to get back on track. He was guilty of leaving spaces at the back and gave possession away five times.

What's next?

Brazil will remain in Singapore and take on Nigeria on Sunday, while Senegal are in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying action next month.

Gabriel Barbosa has earned a recall to the Brazil squad for the friendlies against Senegal and Nigeria following a rich vein of form at Flamengo.

Since arriving at Flamengo on loan from Inter in January, 23-year-old striker Gabigol has scored 30 goals in 40 appearances in all competitions.

He has been rewarded with a first call-up since the Copa America Centenario in 2016 by head coach Tite and is joined by club team-mate Rodrigo Caio.

The news will come as a blow for Flamengo boss Jorge Jesus, though. His side sit top of the Campeonato Brasileiro at the halfway point but the league does not stop for the international calendar.

Athletico Paranaense goalkeeper Santos won the Copa do Brasil on Wednesday and has been selected for international duty for the first time in his career, a fate shared by Gremio midfielder Matheus Henrique and Atletico Madrid left-back Renan Lodi.

Gabriel Jesus returns to the fold after sitting out the 2-2 draw against Colombia and 1-0 loss to Peru in September due to suspension. Neymar, Richarlison, Everton and Roberto Firmino have also been named in a Selecao squad boasting a wealth of attacking options.

Brazil's 17-match unbeaten run came to an end when they went down to Peru and they will hope to get back to winning ways against Senegal in Singapore on October 10.

 

Brazil squad in full:

Ederson (Manchester City), Santos (Athletico Paranaense), Weverton (Palmeiras); Alex Sandro (Juventus), Dani Alves (Sao Paulo), Danilo (Juventus), Eder Militao (Real Madrid), Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain), Renan Lodi (Atletico Madrid), Rodrigo Caio (Flamengo), Thiago Silva (Paris Saint-Germain); Arthur (Barcelona), Casemiro (Real Madrid), Fabinho (Liverpool), Lucas Paqueta (AC Milan), Matheus Henrique (Gremio), Philippe Coutinho (Bayern Munich); Everton (Gremio), Gabriel Barbosa (Flamengo), Gabriel Jesus (Manchester City), Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain), Richarlison (Everton), Roberto Firmino (Liverpool).

Giannis Antetokounmpo was in sensational form as Greece booked their place in the FIBA World Cup second round, while the United States completed a clean sweep in Group E.

Greece won a qualification shoot-out against New Zealand 103-97 to follow Brazil out of Group F, the South American side making it three straight victories by overcoming Montenegro 84-73.

After needing overtime to see off Turkey last time out, Team USA were back on song as they hammered Japan 98-45.

Australia and France booked top spot in their respective groups with wins over Lithuania and Dominican Republic, while Germany and Canada got off the mark.

 

USA BACK ON TRACK

Team USA had five players in double figures for scoring as they comfortably saw off Japan in Shanghai.

Jaylen Brown had a game-high 20 points and Kemba Walker added 15 and eight assists in a routine victory for Gregg Popovich's side.

They will face tricky encounters against Greece and Brazil in the second round.

Turkey were unable to follow the USA out of Group E, as Czech Republic advanced at their expense courtesy of a 91-76 victory in their meeting.

 

GIANNIS GETS GREECE GOING

Having struggled to make his mark in Greece's opening two matches, Antetokounmpo ensured their campaign in China was not derailed in their first-round finale.

The Milwaukee Bucks forward posted a brilliant 24 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and two steals to ensure Corey Webster's 31 points for New Zealand came in vain.

Defeat for the Tall Blacks meant rivals Australia qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games as the best ranked team from Oceania.

 

HISTORY FOR AUSTRALIA

The Boomers made it three straight wins at the start of a World Cup campaign for the first time in their history with an 87-82 victory over Lithuania.

Aron Baynes contributed 21 points and 13 assists for his first double-double in the competition, while Patty Mills scored 23 off eight-of-16 shooting.

The victory ensured Australia topped Group H ahead of Lithuania, with Nick Nurse's Canada taking third following an 82-60 defeat of Senegal.

Cory Joseph was key to Canada's success, combining 24 points with three assists and two steals.

Gregg Popovich's United States team survived an almighty fright in the FIBA World Cup as they claimed a 93-92 overtime victory over Turkey in Shanghai.

Turkey had a chance to hand USA their first preliminary round loss in the competition since 1998 and were one point up in the final 10 seconds.

However, they missed four free throws in the dying embers and Khris Middleton made no mistake with his pair of tries to spare USA's blushes and send them into the second round.

Elsewhere, Joe Ingles' statline of 17-10-9 ensured Australia made it two wins from two in a 81-68 victory over Senegal while Middleton's Milwaukee Bucks team-mate Giannis Antetokounmpo's fouled out in Greece's 79-78 loss to Brazil.

USA SURVIVE UPSET SCARE

Even a depleted USA roster was expected to have few issues in the early stages of the tournament, but Turkey came close to pulling off a huge upset against the defending champions.

Popovich's team were five points up in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter, yet a 7-0 run from Turkey meant the game went down to the wire. 

A foul on Jayson Tatum at the buzzer gave him three free throws, and USA would have won in regulation had he made them all - but he could only drain two.

Turkey had a five-point advantage in the additional period and twice had an opportunity to go three points up with nine seconds remaining only for Douglas Balbay and Cedi Osman to fluff their lines from the free-throw line.

Middleton kept his cool as USA survived a scare on the court, though Boston Celtics star Tatum appeared to pick up a worrying looking ankle injury at the end.

GIANNIS' GREECE GO DOWN

The NBA's reigning MVP Antetokounmpo had a day to forget as Greece suffered a narrow loss to Brazil that mean the South Americans booked their spot in the second round.

Antetokounmpo had fouled out by the time Greece tried to tie the game up late on and force overtime, but Kostas Sloukas could only make two of his three free-throws with two seconds remaining as Brazil claimed a one-point success.

Former Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors center Anderson Varejao led all scorers with 22 points while Antetokounmpo had just 13 in his 28 minutes on court.

Elsewhere in Group F, New Zealand beat Montenegro 93-83.

INGLES COMES CLOSE TO HISTORY AS BOOMERS WIN AGAIN

There has never been a triple-double in a FIBA World Cup but Ingles came close to a slice of history as Australia eased past Senegal.

Ingles was one assist away from a triple-double, contributing nine of their 28 assists as the Boomers warmed up for their clash with Lithuania, who joined them in the second round with a 92-69 triumph.

In Group G, France also moved to 2-0 with a 103-64 thrashing of Jordan, while Dominican Republic kept their unbeaten start intact by beating Germany 70-68.

The day's other game saw Czech Republic defeat Japan 89-76.

United States began their FIBA World Cup title defence with an 88-67 defeat of Czech Republic, while Australia earned a memorable win over Canada.

The defending champions were made to work before claiming a comfortable victory in Group E, where there was a win for Turkey over Japan.

New Zealand pushed Brazil close, but lost out in a 102-94 epic, with Giannis Antetokounmpo shining as Greece beat Montenegro.

France edged out Germany by four points and it was equally as close between the Dominican Republic and Jordan, although Lithuania thrashed Senegal 101-47.

USA UP AND RUNNING

USA were sluggish at times in their opener in Shanghai, but the world's best side ultimately had too much for the Czech Republic to cope with.

Chicago Bulls player Tomas Satoransky was bright for the Czechs, but USA had scoring options throughout the side – Donovan Mitchell, Harrison Barnes and Kemba Walker getting into double figures.

Gregg Popovich's side were disciplined in possession, making just seven turnovers, while Walker was the player of the match, adding four assists and a steal to his 13 points.

RECORD-BREAKING BOOMERS

Australia started their campaign by amassing more than100 points in a World Cup match for the first time since 1990 as the Boomers ran out 108-92 winners over Canada.

Joe Ingles ran the show for Australia, providing 10 assists – the most in a game by an Australian player since assists became part of the box score in 1994.

Matthew Dellavedova lead the way in terms of points, scoring a game-high 24 as Australia made a statement of intent in Group H.

However, the Boomers' win was not enough to earn them top spot, as Lithuania made light work of Senegal.

FINE MARGINS IN GROUP G

France and Germany's only previous World Cup encounter ended 75-73 and Sunday's meeting proved a similarly tight encounter.

It finished 78-74 to France – Evan Fournier starring for the winners with a 26-point haul.

Despite going 14-0 down, Germany fought back to keep within touching distance, and even though Fournier gave his country a 76-70 lead with 32.5 seconds remaining, there was still time for a grandstand finish, France just holding firm.

Elsewhere in Group G, the Dominican Republic overcame Jordan 80-76 in a thrilling contest in Shenzhen.

GIANNIS MAKES HIS MARK FOR GREECE

Meanwhile, Antetokounmpo needed just 16 minutes to show his world-class quality as the NBA star turned on the style to help Greece beat Montenegro.

Antetokounmpo netted 10 points and clocked up eight rebounds in the 85-60 victory in Group F.

Brazil are second in the group, after coming out on top against New Zealand.

The Tall Blacks mounted a late charge following a third-quarter blitz from Brazil but could not muster enough to complete the comeback.

Barcelona have promoted Senegalese defender Moussa Wague to their first-team squad ahead of the new season.

The right-back joins Ernesto Valverde's group on a permanent basis after breaking through for his LaLiga debut in April.

Wague joined the club from Belgian side Eupen last year and made 20 appearances for Barca's reserves in Segunda Division B, the third tier of Spanish football.

He has been given the number 16 shirt formerly worn by Xavi and Sergio Busquets and will rival Nelson Semedo and Sergi Roberto for a starting berth.

The 20-year-old represented Senegal at the 2018 World Cup, scoring in a 2-2 draw against Japan, and was part of the team that reached the Africa Cup of Nations final in July.

Barca face Arsenal in the Joan Gamper Trophy at Camp Nou and Napoli in two friendlies in the United States before their LaLiga campaign begins away to Athletic Bilbao on August 16.

Djamel Belmadi revelled in Algeria's "extraordinary, historic" Africa Cup of Nations final victory over Senegal.

Algeria became champions of Africa on foreign soil for the first time - adding to their 1990 success as hosts - thanks to Baghdad Bounedjah's decisive, deflected second-minute strike.

Belmadi believes his side deserved their triumph but deflected praise onto his players.

"It's extraordinary. It's historic," he told beIN Sports. "This is the first Cup of Nations we have won outside our borders.

"Since 1990, it has been a long, empty passage. We are a football country. We deserve it, I think.

"It was a very complicated match, very difficult. We knew that it was going to be decided on a small detail. And the boys held on.

"With the tournament we had, with better attack and better defence, what more? But without the players, I am nothing.

"We tend to forget that they are the main protagonists. They are the ones who play, who apply the instructions. They did it wonderfully - if not better."

Algeria became Africa Cup of Nations champions for a second time as they edged Senegal 1-0 in a scrappy final on Friday.

Djamel Belmadi's side needed a sensational last-gasp Riyad Mahrez winner to beat Nigeria in the last four, but it was a scrappy early strike that decided this clash as Baghdad Bounedjah benefited from a huge deflection.

Further chances were few and far between in an ill-tempered affair as Algeria withstood almost constant pressure and also saw a Senegal penalty award overturned with VAR.

The single goal ultimately proved enough to hold on, Algeria triumphing on foreign soil for the first time to add to their 1990 success as hosts.

Algeria's fortuitous opener arrived inside two minutes. Bounedjah cut inside from the left and saw a powerful strike loop up off the lunging Salif Sane, dropping over static goalkeeper Alfred Gomis into the top-right corner.

Senegal responded well, getting into dangerous positions and winning countless free-kicks, mainly through Sadio Mane, but their final ball was repeatedly found wanting.

Frustrations threatened to boil over late in the first half, with Mane escaping punishment for an off-the-ball shove on Sofiane Feghouli, although M'Baye Niang went close with a fizzing long-range drive.

The two sides came together to confront the referee at the break - Senegal bemoaning a non-penalty award for Ismaila Sarr - and Algeria substitute goalkeeper Alexandre Oukidja went down claiming contact in the ensuing fracas.

And Senegal were further infuriated on the hour mark when a spot-kick initially awarded as Adlene Guedioura blocked Sarr's cross with his arm was struck off following a VAR review.

Niang rounded Rais M'bolhi but could only blaze high and wide, before the goalkeeper turned Youssouf Sabaly's blast over the crossbar.

Aliou Cisse's side kept pushing, yet there was no way through and Algeria clung to a scarcely deserved victory.

Old friends Aliou Cisse and Djamel Belmadi go up against each other for a shot at history as the two coaches take centre stage ahead of Friday's Africa Cup of Nations final.

There is little doubt Cisse's Senegal and Belmadi's Algeria have been the two standout sides at the 2019 AFCON, suffering just one defeat combined.

That single loss came in the group phase when Algeria defeated the Teranga Lions 1-0, with Senegal now having the opportunity for revenge.

But do not expect vengeance borne out of animosity to be on the mind of Cisse, as he and Belmadi know each other well having been former Ligue 1 adversaries.

The two coaches grew up in the same Paris suburb, Champigny-sur-Marne, while Senegal-born Cisse is just a day older than his counterpart.

Having had numerous tussles in their youth, in domestic French football and also at the AFCON as players, the two now do battle again with historic achievements on the line; Senegal hope to win the tournament for the first time, while Algeria have never lifted the trophy without being hosts.

"I haven't spoken to Aliou," Belmadi told reporters on Thursday. "It's not the time to talk right now, but we will talk after the game. Before the game also, there will be no problem.

"It's extraordinarily ironic that the two kids who grew up together in Champigny-Sur-Marne are now facing each other in the final. We should check if anything like that ever happened in the past.

"We used to play together as young boys in Paris. We grew up in the same city.

"It's amazing that we are now the head coaches for our national teams. Fate brought us to this final. It has a special taste."

Cisse remained entirely fixed on the task at hand, however, and is convinced the early defeat to Algeria has served a purpose by allowing Senegal to learn more about themselves.

"The second group match was a misstep on our part and this defeat allowed us to regroup, to be even stronger," Cisse said.

"Friday is a final, it's a special match, but it's not a question of holding a speech like going to war. We stay in football. We are very calm and focused."

Senegal will be without the suspended Kalidou Koulibaly, though Cisse insists he has a plan to cope without the Napoli star.

"Kalidou is one of the best in his position in the world, but we have the solution to replace him. We are ready," Cisse added.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Senegal – Cheikhou Kouyate

With key man Koulibaly absent, extra responsibility will fall on the shoulders of Kouyate. The experienced midfielder, who has featured as a centre-back at the AFCON, will likely be the senior figure in a defence that needs to stay alert – Algeria's forward options have been lively and potent throughout the tournament.

Algeria – Riyad Mahrez

While he has not necessarily lit the tournament up consistently, Mahrez's glorious late free-kick secured Algeria's spot in the final. It was his third goal of the competition, proving that even when he is not at his very best, he can still be an inspirational figure.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Algeria are unbeaten against Senegal in four AFCON encounters (winning three, drawing one). Moreover, the Teranga Lions are the team the Fennec Foxes have faced most without losing to in the AFCON.
- Senegal will play their second AFCON final, after 2002 (defeat to Cameroon). The Senegalese have won their last four games, their longest winning streak in the competition.
- Algeria will play their third AFCON final after 1980 (a 3-0 defeat to Nigeria) and 1990 (a 1-0 win, also against the Super Eagles). They have conceded two goals in the 2019 AFCON, only in 1984 have they conceded fewer in a single edition, whey they finished third, letting in one goal.
- Senegal forward Sadio Mane is the player who has attempted (34) and completed (20) the most dribbles.
- Nine Algeria players have been involved in at least one goal (excluding own goals) during the 2019 AFCON: Youcef Atal, Youcef Belaili, Ismael Bennacer, Ramy Bensebaini, Baghdad Bounedjah, Sofiane Feghouli, Riyad Mahrez, Adam Ounas and Islam Slimani. That is more than any other team.

Jurgen Klopp is wary of Sadio Mane's lack of rest heading into the new season, with the Liverpool star's campaign yet to come to an end.

On the back of a gruelling 2018-19 campaign, Premier League Golden Boot joint-winner Mane has scored three goals to help Senegal to the Africa Cup of Nations final.

Friday's showdown with Algeria in Cairo ends a season which has lasted close to 12 months for the 27-year-old, who also featured for his nation at the 2018 World Cup.

Liverpool's season starts on August 4 with the Community Shield clash against Premier League champions Manchester City at Wembley.

Newly promoted Norwich City then travel to Anfield on August 9, in the opening Premier League fixture of 2019-20.

And Klopp acknowledged his concern over Mane's readiness for the new season, confirming Liverpool are yet to decide when Mane will return to the fold.

"With Sadio, we have to see about him after the final – how he is feeling and stuff like that," Klopp told Liverpool's official website.

"It will be really difficult. Sixteen days before we play City, his season is finished. We will have to make a decision, but we haven't made it yet."

While Mane's return date is yet to be established, Klopp – whose squad are on tour in the United States – revealed Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and goalkeeper Alisson will return for a training camp in Evian later in July.

The trio have all been afforded extended breaks following their participation in the AFCON and Copa America respectively, with Klopp confident they will have enough time to prepare for the City fixture.

"It means we have nearly a week until City, a strong 12 days until Norwich and then 15 or 16 days until Chelsea [in the UEFA Super Cup]," Klopp said.

"We have to see. The good thing is, when you have a short break you don’t lose a lot. 

"I would have preferred it if they had come back after a week, but that would make absolutely no sense. So, [they have] these three weeks and then we will have them here for pre-season."

Page 1 of 2
© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.