Salah, Mane, Mahrez, Haller: Africa's 10 Player of the Year nominees ranked

Former Liverpool teammates Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have made it onto the 10-man shortlist for the Confederation of African Football’s Men’s Player of the Year award for 2021/22.

The two are no stranger to receiving the coveted prize of Africa’s best having both been awarded the accolade previously – Salah twice (2017, 2018) and Mane once (2019).

And after both enjoyed stellar campaigns last season in which Salah clinched the Premier League Player of the Season award and Mane bettered his pal in the African Cup of Nations final, it’s set to be a close contest between the two for this year’s prize.

Who are the other nominees?

Although, let’s not make it all about Salah and Mane despite it being widely accepted that one of the two will claim the award.

Many players from the continent of Africa have excelled across world football this past 12 months and they’re rightfully due their plaudits also.

The final 10-man shortlist has been whittled down from an initial 30 – check out the remaining contenders below.

Player of the Year contenders

  • Riyad Mahrez (Algeria & Manchester City)
  • Karl Toko Ekambi (Cameroon & Lyon)
  • Vincent Aboubakar (Cameroon & Al Nassr)
  • Mohamed Salah (Egypt & Liverpool)
  • Naby Keita (Guinea & Liverpool)
  • Sebastien Haller (Ivory Coast & Borussia Dortmund)
  • Achraf Hakimi (Morocco & Paris St-Germain)
  • Edouard Mendy (Senegal & Chelsea)
  • Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal & Napoli)
  • Sadio Mane (Senegal & Bayern Munich)

Ranking the final nominees

10. Naby Keita

A divisive figure amongst Liverpool fans in terms of his on-pitch contributions, however almost all agree that the Guinean international has bags of potential for the future.

He showed flashes of brilliance throughout the 2021/2022 campaign, appearing 23 times in the Premier League for the Reds.

But he was some work to do if he wants to justify his steep £54 million price tag.

Villarreal v Liverpool Semi Final Leg Two - UEFA Champions League

9. Karl Toko Ekambi

The Cameroon international attacker enjoyed a decent season whilst leading the line for Lyon, chipping in with a respectable 25 goal contributions in all competitions.

Maguire BACKED as Captain! RANT (The Football Terrace)

8. Vincent Aboubakar

The 30-year-old’s club season was nothing to write home about, in fact, it was rather underwhelming given he scored just eight goals in the Saudi league for Al-Nassr Riad.

However, on the international stage, it was an entirely different story.

Aboubakar captured fans imagination on route to becoming the first player to score eight goals at a single Nations Cup in over half a century.

Aboubakar Cameroon

7. Edouard Mendy

Mendy certainly has his moments, and we’re sure the first leg of the quarter-final tie against Real Madrid gives him nightmares to this day, but there can be no denying that he’s a truly exceptional shot-stopper that rightfully owns a place in one of club football’s best sides.

Edouard Mendy

6. Achraf Hakimi

Hakimi reportedly doesn’t get on with the South American players amongst the Paris Saint-Germain squad, however he hasn’t let that stop him putting in an impressive debut season in France.

Alongside his club romping to the Ligue One title, the adventurous right-back chipped in with four goals and six assists in the league – which isn’t too bad, even if Lionel Messi and Neymar won’t talk to him…

Achraf Hakimi

5. Kalidou Koulibaly

Kouliably enjoyed another solid season for Napoli last time out.

He’s been a key figure in their backline for almost a decade now and despite being constantly linked with a move to the Premier League, most recently via Chelsea this summer window, a move never seems to materialise.

Which is a shame because we’d love to see him action whilst still in his prime.

Koulibaly captain
Koulibaly captain

4. Riyad Mahrez

Mahrez has been world class since he came to the Premier League but has been held back in recent years by Man City’s insane level of squad depth.

The departures of Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus will help greatly on that side of things, so you can expect a further improved season in 2022/2023.

Nevertheless, the silky Algerian still chipped in with 33 goal contributions in all competitions last year as City reclaimed their Premier League crown.


3. Sebastien Haller

The big Ivorian centre-forward has come a long old way in the year since he left West Ham for Ajax.

He’s gone from scoring three Premier League goals to bagging 34 which is a pretty miraculous turn around and, before you bring up the inevitable ‘Eredivisie tax’ argument, he also scored 11 goals in just eight Champions League games.

No wonder Borussia Dortmund made him their Haaland replacement.

Haller Ajax
Sebastien Haller

2. Sadio Mane

Bayern’s new star had some year both from a club perspective and internationally, so it wouldn’t surprise us at all if he was to claim Africa’s highest individual honour come awards night.

He’d certainly deserve it. However, in our book at least, he misses out by a whisker.

Sadio Mane
  1. Mohamed Salah

The reason we’ve opted for Salah at number one is simply because there was a large portion of last season where he was the leading contender to win the 2022 Ballon d’Or.

Now, whilst that storyline hasn’t stuck thanks to the might of Karim Benzema combined with an obvious drop-off in form on Salah’s part, there’s no denying that he was on another planet for Liverpool at times.

He won another Premier League Golden Boot – even if he did begrudgingly have to share it with Heung-Min Son – and whilst Mane was his typically brilliant self, when Salah is firing, there’s arguably no one in world football more explosive right now.

Salah Liverpool

Ballon d’Or quiz: Can you name the missing player?

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The 2018 winner – easy peasy

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