Can African players become the best player in the world again? This is one question mostly asked by Africans who want their players to rule the world’s football.
The continent hasn’t produced the world’s best player since 1995 when George Weah won the coveted prize following his impressive performance for both Paris Saint-Germain and Milan.
No doubt African players have improved in recent years. Some are the most expensive players in their clubs while others share the value as their European counterparts.
Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen is inarguably one of the best players in Napoli. He is currently among the best strikers in the world.
He became Napoli and Africa’s most expensive player after his huge €70 switch to the Diego Maradona Stadium from Lille two seasons ago.
Senegal’s Kalidou Koulibaly was Napoli’s best defender before his €40m move to Chelsea this summer.
Mohammed Salah has been Liverpool’s best player for a while, having won the Premier League top scorer’s award twice in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons.
Africa’s new king Sadio Mane, who recently became the continent’s best player for the second time in a row, was also an inspirational player and leader throughout his stay at Anfield.
The Senegalese star isn’t a pushover in the world’s football. His exemplary character and impressive football skills made him fans’ favourite during his time in Jurgen Klopp’s team.
Meanwhile, you can’t talk of Chelsea’s 2021/2022 Champions League triumph without mentioning Edouard Mendy’s heroic performances all through the year.
The Senegalese star was an influential figure throughout the campaign as he made countless breathtaking saves.
Becoming the first African to win the UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year and The Best FIFA Goalkeeper awards in 2021 wasn’t a surprise, considering his inspiring display between the sticks.
Sebastián Haller of Ivory Coast is another player whose magnificent performance in last season’s Champions League deserve resounding applause.
The 28-year-old striker created a new champions league record when he scored four goals on his Champions League debut against Sporting CP.
He also sets a new record after scoring twice against Beşiktaş to become the first player to score nine goals in five consecutive Champions League matches.
Who Could Win It And When
Football is improving in Africa, African players are being noticed by top European clubs.
Hence, it is only a matter of time before one of the players above will clinch the award.
As it stands, Sadio Mane is the player with the best chance of claiming the award having won the AFCON tournament. He played a significant role in Liverpool’s FA Cup and EFL Cup triumphs.
He came close to winning the award in 2019 after finishing fifth behind Messi, Van Dijk, Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo. He would hope his performances are enough to earn him the award this year, although losing to Real Madrid in the Champions League final will surely hamper his chances.
Mohammed Salah has a bright chance of winning it before retiring. He has been a top-level player since his return to Premier League.
He is currently in his prime, meaning this is the best time to lay claim for the award after coming third in 2019. As much as winning it this year is uncertain, next season offers him another — or probably the last — chance to win the 2023 edition.
Victor Osimhen is doing well for Napoli and he is gaining more recognition in Europe. His goalscoring prowess and doggedness are never in doubt.
He will surely be among the world’s best three players in the nearest future if he maintains his commitment, and keeps improving. He would want to start with next year’s African player of the year award after missing the 2022 edition.
Though Sébastien Haller has a slim chance of winning the award anytime soon, he might just surprise everyone if he gets it right with Borussia Dortmund.
Scoring 32 goals in 50 matches isn’t a small feat, he will surely make the Balon D’Or nomination list if he builds on last season’s form for his new Bundesliga side.