Liverpool provide two contenders in Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.
The end of the year is approaching, and the time to appreciate the finest football talents from Africa has arrived. CAF released a shortlist of thirty players who will be vying for the prestigious award.
The list is a clear attestation of the appreciation of how African players have been exceptional. However, the absence of Leicester City forward Riyad Mahrez has raised some eyebrows. The forward is the incumbent holder of the award. His dipped form during last season has been a contributing factor in his exclusion, and that there are other players who have fared better than him is an arguable point.
Of more focus is Liverpool’s forward Mohamed Salah, who has been exceptional in Europe. Although his team Liverpool did not have a rosy start to the season, his performances have been splendid and his impact has been extremely palpable in Merseyside. His contributions to the national team, Egypt, put him in a favourable position as compared to other players like Gabon’s Pierre-Emerick Aubemayang. The latter has not been good at international level, although he had his most prouductive season (2016/17) at Borussia Dortmund. On the other hand, Mo Salah has helped Egypt qualify for the World Cup since 1990. Salah’s transfer to Liverpool made him the most expensive African footballer.
Liverpool provide two of the key contenders in Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, with the duo having delivered a series of scintillating performances when paired together for Jurgen Klopp’s Reds this season. Mane is in his second season at Anfield, but despite having won Liverpool’s Player of the Season award last term, his career on Merseyside has been punctuated by injuries, suspension and international absences, all of which may count against him.
Headline club performances have boosted Eric Bailly, Jean-Michael Seri, Victor Moses, Karim El Ahmadi and Bertrand Traore this year (the latter two were superb at the Afcon as well), although in that case it is puzzling not to see Hakim Ziyech on the list, as he was influential in Ajax’s Europa League final run, and has been excellent for Morocco in the World Cup qualifiers since mending fences with Herve Renard.
Here is the full list of the nominees for African Player of the Year:
1. Ali Maaloul (Tunisia & Al Ahly)
2. Bertrand Traore (Burkina Faso & Lyon)
3. Cedric Bakambu (DR Congo & Villareal)
4. Christian Atsu (Ghana & Newcastle)
5. Christian Bassogog (Cameroon & Henan Jianye
6. Denis Onyango (Uganda & Mamelodi Sundowns)
7. Eric Bailly (Cote d’Ivoire & Manchester United)
8. Essam El Hadary (Egypt & Al Taawoun)
9. Fabrice Ondoa (Cameroon & Sevilla)
10. Fackson Kapumbu (Zambia & Zesco)
11. Jean Michel Seri (Cote d’Ivoire & Nice)
12. Junior Kabananga (DR Congo & Astana)
13. Karim El Ahmadi (Morocco & Feyenoord)
14. Keita Balde (Senegal & Monaco)
15. Khalid Boutaib (Morocco & Yeni Malatyaspor)
16. Mbwana Samata (Tanzania & Genk)
17. Michael Olunga (Kenya & Girona)
18. Mohamed Salah (Egypt & Liverpool)
19. Moussa Marega (Mali & Porto)
20. Naby Keita (Guinea & RB Leipzig)
21. Percy Tau (South Africa & Mamelodi Sundowns)
22. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon & Borussia Dortmund)
23. Sadio Mane (Senegal & Liverpool)
24. Thomas Partey (Ghana & Atletico Madrid)
25. Victor Moses (Nigeria & Chelsea)
26. Vincent Aboubakar (Cameroon & Porto)
27. William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria & Bursaspor)
28. Yacine Brahimi (Algeria & Porto)
29. Youssef Msakni (Tunisia & Al Duhail)
30. Yves Bissouma (Mali & Lille)