Nominees for the 2016 BBC African Footballer of the Year Award have been announced and this year’s list includes Sadio Mane (Senegal), Riyad Mahrez (Algeria), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon), Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast), and Andre Ayew (Ghana). All five players have proven to be some of Africa’s top football performers over the course of the last 12 months.
Here, is profile for each of the five nominees and evaluated their chances of walking home with the prestigious award. The winner will be announced on December 12th and football fans are encouraged to vote on the BBC website.
Twenty-four-year-old Sadio Manecurrently plays for Liverpool. The Senegalese-born winger has scored six goals in 11 appearances since transferring from Southampton, where he set a record for the fastest hat-trick in a Premier League match, registering three goals in 2bminutes and 56 seconds. Last year, he managed to find the back of the net 15 times.
In 2016, Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez became the first African to win “Player of the Year” for his exploits with Leicester Cityon their road to winning the English Premiership. Although he plays as a midfielder, Mahrez managed to record an impressive 18 goals in addition to contributing several assists. Mahrez has also been nominated for the Ballon d’Or (often referred to as the European Footballer of the Year Award) and many football commentators believe he’s a in great position to win it.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is without doubt one of the top five playmakers and goal scorers in world class football. Aubameyang’s prowess in front of the net puts him right up there with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Luiz Suarez, and Lionel Messi. The Borussia Dortmund forward and Gabon native scored 25 goals last season. His services are in high demand and several top clubs in Europe are looking to sign him to a long-term deal.
The Ivory Coast’s Yaya Toure has endured a disappointing 2016-2017 season campaign so far. He was left out of his club’s Champions League lineup, and he has found himself frozen out of first team appearances by new club coach Pep Guardiola. To make matters worse, he has yet to score a goal, prompting many football analysts to believe that he may well be on his way off the team.
However, in the first half of 2016, Toure enjoyed relative success playing for Manchester City under former coach Manuel Pellegrini. His performances helped the team win the League Cup final. The 33-year-old is a two-time winner of the BBC African of the Footballer of the Year Award. He may no longer have age on his side, but he is considered one of the best African footballers of his generation.
Ghana’s Andre Ayew and Ivory Coast’s Yaya Toure are the only two players on this list to have previously been crowned African Footballer of the Year. Ayew last won in 2011, exactly 20 years after his father, the great Abedi “Pele” Ayew, who won the inaugural edition of the award in 1991.
Ayew transferred from French club Marseille to English club Swansea City in 2015, scoring 12 goals in his debut season with the team. Ahead of the 2016 season, West Ham United paid Swansea City a club record £20.5m for Ayew. A string of injuries has prevented him from excelling at his new club, though, where he has managed only three appearances so far this season.