Tuesday Jun 27, 2017. 10:43
AfricanFootball.com takes a look at the top ten African players in world football, in no particular order.
Club: Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
2016/17 season starts (subs)/goals, all competitions: 43(2)/40
Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang enjoyed the best season of his career in 2016/17, racking up 40 goals across all competitions for Borussia Dortmund (including 31 in the Bundesliga, to be the German top flight’s leading scorer for the first time). The 28-year-old is expected to leave BVB for a sum of over €70-million in the European summer, with the likes of Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City and Chelsea circling.
Club: RB Leipzig (Germany)
2016/17 season starts (subs)/goals, all competitions: 30(2)/8
Guinea midfielder Naby Keita was one of the driving forces behind RB Leipzig’s surprise second-place finish in the Bundesliga. The 22-year-old has established himself as one of Europe’s highest-rated box-to-box midfielders and is already being courted by some big names, including Liverpool. However, Leipzig are determined to retain his services for at least one more season.
Club: Liverpool (England)
2016/17 season starts (subs)/goals, all competitions: 28(1)/13
Sadio Mane established himself as one of Liverpool’s key players in his first season at Anfield, scoring 13 goals in 28 starts for the Reds through 2016/17. It would have been more had the player not missed the last couple months of the campaign with a knee injury. Mane’s incredible speed, versatility and fearlessness made him a perfect fit for Jurgen Klopp’s exciting Liverpool team.
Club: Liverpool (England) - just moved from Roma (Italy)
2016/17 season starts (subs)/goals, all competitions: 37(4)/19
Mohamed Salah was one of Africa’s top performing players in Europe during 2016/17, with the Egyptian scoring an impressive 19 goals from the wings for Roma. He also helped his national team reach the final of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations and has recently been rewarded with a big-money move to Liverpool, where he will be hoping to make the most of his second spell in the Premier League.
Club: Chelsea (England)
2016/17 season starts (subs)/goals, all competitions: 35(5)/4
Nigeria’s Victor Moses was little more than a bit-part player at Chelsea ahead of the start of the 2016/17 season, but the arrival of Italian coach Antonio Conte at Stamford Bridge transformed him into a key part of their squad. The Super Eagles man turned out to be a perfect fit as a right wingback in a 3-4-3 formation and was one of the most consistent performers for the Blues as they romped to the Premier League title.
Nationality: Ivory Coast
Club: Manchester United (England)
2016/17 season starts (subs)/goals, all competitions: 37(1)/0
Eric Bailly’s first season at Manchester United was an unqualified success, with the Ivorian clearly establishing himself as manager Jose Mourinho’s favourite centre-back, ahead of the likes of Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Daley Blind. The Elephants player is fast, strong in the tackle and aerial challenges, and is also a brilliant reader of the play. He won the League Cup and Europa League with the Red Devils in 2016/17.
Club: Tottenham Hotspur (England)
2016/17 season starts (subs)/goals, all competitions: 45(2)/5
Kenyan midfielder Victor Wanyama was one of the key figures in Tottenham Hotspur’s excellent 2016/17 season. The 26-year-old provided the energy, tackling aggression and tactical discipline which allowed the likes of Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane to prosper in attack. Wanyama is expected to continue his critical role for the Lilywhites under Mauricio Pochettino.
Club: Leicester City (England)
2016/17 season starts (subs)/goals, all competitions: 43(5)/12
Though the 2016/17 season did not reach the heights of the previous campaign for either Riyad Mahrez or Leicester City, the Algerian still caught the eye with his skill, chance creation and finishing ability. The 26-year-old Fennec Foxes man is expected to leave the King Power Stadium in the European summer, with the likes of Arsenal and Barcelona vying for his signature.
Club: Lazio (Italy)
2016/17 season starts (subs)/goals, all competitions: 22(12)/16
Senegal attacker Keita Balde had a mixed season for Lazio in 2016/17 but still managed to impress with a goal return of 16 strikes from 22 starts across all competitions. Quick, strong, aggressive and decisive, the 22-year-old is seen as one of Africa’s rising talents and has already been linked with a big-money move to the Premier League.
Nationality: Ivory Coast
Club: AC Milan - just moved from Atalanta (both Italy)
2016/17 season starts (subs)/goals, all competitions: 26(5)/7
Dubbed the ‘New Yaya Toure’, Ivory Coast midfielder Franck Kessie enjoyed a terrific campaign for Atalanta in Serie A and has been snapped up by AC Milan, with the Italian giants initially signing the player on loan for two years with an ‘obligation’ to purchase him outright in 2019. Kessie is a superb all-rounder who is considered one of Italian football’s best midfielders despite being just 20 years of age.