Sadio Mane has said he could not be at Monday's Ballon d'Or ceremony in Paris because Liverpool have a game on Wednesday, but he hopes he will be there next year as winner.
Barcelona's Lionel Messi won the award for a record sixth time, with Mane placing fourth behind his Liverpool team-mate Virgil van Dijk and five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo:
The winger played a key role for Liverpool in 2019 as they came second in the Premier League and won the UEFA Champions League. He also led Senegal to the Africa Cup of Nations final in Egypt.
As such, Mane was a genuine contender to win the Ballon d'Or, but for Monday's ceremony, he sent a video message to explain why he could not be present, per Goal:
"Hello everyone, it's Sadio Mane—I would have loved to be here with you, but sadly my schedule didn't allow me because I have a game this Wednesday. I congratulate the winner and give him an appointment next year. I'll try to be there and maybe lift the Ballon d'Or. Inshallah. See you soon, bye."
Liverpool top the Premier League table by eight points, and they host Everton at Anfield on Wednesday for the first Merseyside derby of the campaign:
Mane's team-mates Van Dijk and Alisson were both in Paris on Monday, though, with the latter picking up the Yashin Trophy for the world's best goalkeeper.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp seemingly had no issue with two of his best players attending just two days before a key match—although Alisson will be suspended for the meeting with the Toffees.
The German manager will likely be happy that Mane opted not to attend, though, as maintaining his key players' fitness is going to be vital in a packed December schedule:
As well as Premier League, Champions League and League Cup fixtures, Liverpool face a trip to Qatar this month to take part in the FIFA Club World Cup.