Last week, Riyad Mahrez of Algeria and Leicester City was crowned Africa’s player of the year for 2016 due to his heroics and excellent season with Leicester City in the English Premier League. Well, based on his current form, it’s certainly a no-brainer if he doesn’t win the award in 2017 except he gets his mojo back which in the world of football sometimes never happens.
Some footballers (Nigerians inclusive) have been phenomenal this season and stand a huge chance of winning the prestigious 2017 accolade for Africa’s player of the year if they continue with their good form till the season’s climax.
LIB presents to you- Alex Iwobi, Victor Moses and the 4 other footballers who could win the 2017 African Player of the year award.
1.Victor Moses –
A very present thorn in the flesh of opposition wingers this season, Moses has redeveloped his playing game to suit the tactical demands of the acutely intelligent Chelsea coach Antonio Conte. He runs up and down the right wing of Chelsea’s 3-5-2/3-4-3 formation like a man living on frog juice and gives his own share of defensive graft as such as attacking verve. He has also been a shining light for the Super Eagles of Nigeria and did well in the country’s last outing against Algeria. With his turnover of 4 goals and 1 assist in 18 appearances for Chelsea who says Moses can’t be crowned 2017 Africa’s player of the year.
Probability of him winning it on current form: 3.5/5
Dribbler, acute crosser, eye for goal, hustler and bustler- All this terms describe Saido Mane of Senegal and Liverpool. Some Liverpool fans will even say he has been their best player this season, with his pace and ability to stretch opposition defence down the right wing a major factor in Liverpool’s fight for premier league glory under Jurgen Klopp this season.
He is set to star for Senegal in this month’s African Cup of Nations, and a good performance at the nations cup coupled with continual week in- week out solid performances for Liverpool will get him the coveted 2017 crown as Africa’s best player.
Probability of him winning it on current form:4/5
All it took was just an injury to halt Bailly’s mind blowing defensive performances for Manchester United this season. Bought from Villareal for £30m by Manchester United, Jose Mourinho has shown enough confidence in the defender and he has duly rewarded his boss’ faith. No African defenders have been given African player of the year awards even at their peak (ask Joseph Yobo, Taribo West and Rigobert Song), but Bailly might just be an exception this year especially if he does well for Ivory Coast at the Nations Cup this January.
Bailly is young, energetic, athletic and an intelligent defender, but would that be enough come the end of 2017?
Probability of him winning it on current form:2.5/5
4.Alex Iwobi –
The 20 year old in 2016 was a revelation for Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal. Not only did he snub England to represent Nigeria, he has gone on from strength to strength in the last one year and has had two contract improvements. He was even nominated for Arsenal’s player of the month award for December. For Nigeria, he has been a very good player too and has seamlessly bonded with his country men despite most of the players being by far older than he is. Whenever he plays he seems so confident with the ball and can play across all three positions in the attacking third. He has scored 2 goals this season, created 19 chances and provided 3 assists.
Arsene Wenger once said of Iwobi : “I started him last year because I’ve seen that there’s something in him that is quality of vision, quality of give and go, of movement,”
“He can break the lines with a pass and individually as well, so there’s a lot in the locker. Overall, he’s only 20 years old so you could see that he has gained in confidence now. He can take people on much more and he has gained power as well.
Who says he can’t be Africa’s next best player of the year?..At least a Nigerian should win it, it’s been long….goddammit!!!
Probability of him winning it on current form:3.5/5
From a boy playing academy football in the streets of Owerri to an £85,000 per week earning footballer in the space of 4 years, Kelechi’s story of grass to grace is the type every parent wishes for their child.
For Nigeria, he has been on fire and for Man City, some fans are even beginning to prefer his pacy impetus and attacking alacrity to that of Sergio Aguero.
With 4 goals in the premier league and 2 goals in the Champions league, Iheanacho is a leading African light at the age of 20 an crowned it up last week when he won CAF’s Most Promising Talent of the Year award at the 2016 Glo-CAF Awards. If he keeps listening to Pep Guardiola’s words of wisdom and applies himself to improvement daily sky is surely his starting point.
Probability of him winning it on current form:4/5
The Gabonese footballer with one of the hrdst names to produce in world football, Auba- as he is fondly called by his Borussia Dortmund teammates carries the weight of his nation at the Nations Cup tournament in January. He was the former African player of the year and his prolific form for Dortmund has made him to be constantly linked to Real Madrid.
He has scored 20 goals in 22 appearances for Dortmund this season and is literally on fire. At 27 years of age, he is actually at his peak and his tenacity, doggedness and poacher attitude in front of goal is what any defender dreads. Imagine Auba in the Epl? Damn! Hopes he does well for host country Gabon in the 2017 African Cup of Nations this January.
Probability of him winning it on current form:4.5/5