Of the five finalists for the BBC’s African Player of the Year award, two are Liverpool players and a third will become one next season, with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, and Naby Keïta joined by Chelsea’s Victor Moses and Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as contenders for 2017 honours.
For many, it’s Salah who is considered favourite, and amongst those who are backing the Liverpool star to take the prize is Diego Maradona, who has been impressed by the free-scoring Egyptian winger both during his time at Roma and now that he’s made his return to the Premier League with Liverpool.
“I would like to support Salah as he has greatly succeeded with Roma and Liverpool,” Maradona told Egypt’s Sada El-Balad this week when asked about the strong list of finalists to take the baton from current holder Riyad Mahrez on December 11. “He’s a wonderful player who surely deserves the award.”
Though all the contenders have a strong case to make, Salah’s gaudy scoring totals for both Roma and Liverpool along with his heroics leading Egypt to their first World Cup since 1990 will make him hard to beat. So too will the fact that, unlike the CAF’s annual award, the BBC’s is voted on by the fans.
Salah’s rabid support back in his homeland has already helped him to a handful of Champions League player of the week awards, and Liverpool fans have in the past shown an ability to tip fan voted awards towards the club’s players, too.