Four African footballers made the 30-man list of contenders to win this year’s prestigious Ballon d’Or award.
The prize is awarded to the footballer deemed to be the best in the world during the 2022-23 season.
Cameroon’s and Manchester United goalkeeper, André Onana who was part of the Internationale team that made it to the final of the elite European Clubs Championship, the UEFA Champions League was among the nominees. Onana had a controversial World Cup experience in Qatar after falling out with his national team manager, he was not even included among the substitutes for the Indomitable Lions’ second Group G outing at Qatar 2022.
The second African on the list is Egyptian and Liverpool striker, Mohamed Salah whose club side had an underwhelming 2022/2023 season after the loss of Senegalese Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich. But Salah managed to be a beacon of hope with 19 league goals. In the same season, he overtook Robbie Fowler to become the club’s all-time top Premier League goalscorer, and only four men have ever netted more for the Reds in all competitions.
Morocco’s Yassine Bounou, another goalkeeper also made the list after outstanding performances at the Qatar 2022 World Cup where he kept four clean sheets, the most out of any goalkeeper in the tournament and made two saves during the round of 16 penalty shoot-out against Spain, leading to Morocco qualifying for the quarter-finals for the first time in their history. He was the first African to reach three clean sheets at a World Cup.
The fourth African on the list is Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen who is considered one of the best strikers in the world. The 24-year-old sticker had a record-breaking season with Italian side, Napoli where he scored 26 goals to win the Serie A top scorer award, which led to Napoli winning the Scudetto after a 33-year wait. Osimhen became the first African to win the highest goal scorer award, while also becoming the first player since Zlatan Ibrahimovic to win both the Capocannoniere (top scorer award) and the Scudetto (the league title) in the same season, a record which has stood for 14 long years.
Other nominees on the list are Josko Gvardiol – Manchester City/Croatia, Karim Benzema – Al Ittihad, Jamal Musiala – Bayern Munich/Germany, Jude Bellingham – Real Madrid/England, Bukayo Saka – Arsenal/England, Randal Kolo Muani – Paris Saint-Germain/France, Kevin De Bruyne – Manchester City/Belgium, Bernardo Silva – Manchester City/Portugal, Emiliano Martínez – Aston Villa/Argentina, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia – Napoli/Georgia
Rúben Dias – Manchester City/Portugal, Nicolo Barella – Inter Milan/Italy, Erling Haaland – Manchester City/Norway.
Others are Martin Ødegaard – Arsenal/Norway, Julián Álvarez – Manchester City/Argentina, Ilkay Gündogan – Barcelona/Germany, Vinícius Júnior – Real Madrid/Brazil, Lionel Messi – Inter Miami/Argentina, Rodri – Manchester City/Spain, Lautaro Martínez – Inter Milan/Argentina, Antoine Griezmann – Atletico Madrid/France, Robert Lewandowski – Barcelona/Poland, Kylian Mbappé – Paris Saint-Germain/France, Kim Min-Jae – Napoli/South Korea, Luka Modric – Real Madrid/Croatia, and Harry Kane – Bayern Munich/England.
The winner of the award is voted on by journalists from FIFA’s 100 top-ranked member nations with an announcement meant for later this year.
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