Mane, Pepe, no Salah or Mendy: The 'best' XI from the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations

The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations is now sadly over.

It truly was an enthralling tournament from start to finish, with Senegal eventually winning the continental showpiece out in Cameroon.

Sadio Mane‘s side beat Egypt on penalties in last Sunday’s final, the Liverpool superstar converting the spot kick that secured victory for his country.

Mohamed Salah‘s team had to make do with runner-up medals, although the nation enjoyed a fantastic tournament overall and can be immensely proud of their efforts.

Salah himself was pretty impressive at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, the world-class winger finishing with two goals and an assist to his name from seven appearances.

The Liverpool man both scored and setup a goal in the memorable 2-1 victory over Morocco in the quarter-finals.

Senegal win AFCON! Match reaction (Football Terrace)

But those contributions have proven to not be enough for Salah to make the tournament’s highest-rated XI.

Nicolas Pepe (who possesses the highest rating of any player) instead occupies the right-wing spot, with Senegal goalkeeper Edouard Mendy also missing out – which is a huge surprise.

Let’s take a look at WhoScored‘s XI in full…

The ‘best’ XI from the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations

The ‘best’ 2021 AFCON XI: Mohamed El Shenawy (Egypt & Al Ahly), Achraf Hakimi (Morocco & PSG), Abdou DIallo (Senegal & PSG), Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal & Napoli), Saliou Ciss (Senegal & Nancy), Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast & Arsenal), Ibrahim Sangare (Ivory Coast & PSV), Moses Simon (Nigeria & Nantes), Sadio Mane (Senegal & Liverpool), Sebastien Haller (Ivory Coast & Ajax), Vincent Aboubakar (Cameroon & Al Nassr).

Despite finishing third, host nation Cameroon only have one player in the XI and that’s Golden Boot winner Aboubakar, who scored an astonishing eight goals at the tournament – including a brace versus Burkina Faso in the third-place play-off.

Winners Senegal have four members of their squad in the team, making them comfortably the most well-represented nation, which isn’t exactly a shock.

So, you may now be asking; how much does the collection of players above differ to the official Team of the Tournament? Well, the answer to that question is ‘a lot’.

The official 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Team of the Tournament

Hakimi, Ciss, Mane and Aboubakar are the only four players to feature in both XIs, with Salah, Mendy and Mohamed Elneny all making the cut for the official team.

It just goes to show that WhoScored’s various complex algorithms to calculate player ratings can produce an end result that’s far different to what most have seen with their own eyes.

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