Though some questioned his credentials when Liverpool made him their big signing of the summer, there is now little doubt Sadio Mané was both a true marquee signing and something of a £34M bargain, a player who could end up the most successful summer signing for any Premier League club in 2016-17.
And today, Mané has been shortlisted for 2016’s CAF player of the year award, one of five finalists in the running to be named best African footballer. Mané has been nominated along with Dortmund’s Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang, Roma’s Mohamed Salah, and the Leicester City duo Riyad Mahrez and Islam Silmani.
The shortlist was selected by CAF accredited media and technical staff along with a panel of confederation experts, and the winner will be chosen based on the votes of the head coaches and technical directors of the CAF’s 54 affiliated nations. The winner will be revealed on the 5th of January.
While Mané’s nomination speaks to his quality as a player and his role in getting Southampton into the Europa League last season and helping Senegal to qualify for the AFCON, as well as for his early impact since arriving at Liverpool, he isn’t considered a frontrunner amongst the five finalists.
Instead, it is expected Aubameyang, who has been the Bundesliga’s dominant striker for going on three seasons now, or Mahrez following his key role in Leicester winning the Premier League, will be the heavy favourites. Which wins will depend on if the voters prove to be more fond stats or storylines.
If Mané can continue his strong play for Liverpool, though—so far he has six goals and four assists in 12 total appearances—and perhaps help the club in their efforts to break their title drought, he could well end up a favourite for 2017’s honours.