African Player of the Year: fantastic final five’s chances rated
The shortlist for African Player of the Year 2014 has been released, so we celebrate this diverse continent’s contribution to football by assessing pros and cons of the final five superstars to make the cut.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund and Gabon)
France-born flying forward Aubameyang took the Bundesliga by storm in his first campaign with Dortmund (14/1 to lift the Champions League). Able to play on either wing or as a striker, the adaptable, agile and pacy attacker provided 13 goals and four assists in 32 league appearances last term, helping his club to a second place finish.
Also, one of the few bright spots in Jurgen Klopp’s struggling side this season, Aubameyang’s chances are unfortunately impacted by his status as the only player on this list not have appeared at the World Cup.
Yacine Brahimi (Porto and Algeria)
Brilliant Brahimi was arguably Algeria’s best player in Brazil, with his wizardry propelling the Desert Foxes to the last 16 for the first time in history, and subsequently earning him a move to Portuguese giants Porto.
Attacking midfielder Brahimi has excelled for the Dragons so far, with six goals and seven assists in all competitions. However, before the 24-year-old burst into life on the world’s biggest stage, his form was not quite as prolific for La Liga side Granada.
Vincent Enyeama (Lille and Nigeria)
Acrobatic Enyeama deserves his spot on the shortlist for his stupendous form between the sticks for Lille last season. The Nigerian number one kept 11 Ligue One clean sheets in a row, and 21 overall last term, as well as being named as one of the top five stoppers at the World Cup.
If he is crowned king of his continent, Enyeama would be the first keeper ever to win an African Player of the Year Award, with goalies previously overlooked. The 32-year-old custodian has not managed to impress quite as much this campaign, though, conceding 19 in as many games.
Gervinho (Roma and Ivory Coast)
Ex-Arsenal forward Gervinho surprised many with his swashbuckling performances for Serie A side Roma last term, and capped an impressive season off with a string of fine performances in Brazil.
Ivory Coast attacker Gervinho contributed 12 goals to the Giallorossi’s cause, helping them make a triumphant Champions League return, and was also crucial for his country at the World Cup.
Gervinho’s stunning strike against Colombia was one of the tournament’s highlights, and the 27-year-old’s thirst for goals has since continued for club Roma this campaign. With compatriot Yaya Toure suffering a dip in form, this former Gunner could be picked as the cream of the crop.
Yaya Toure (Manchester City and Ivory Coast)
The only Premier League representative amongst the fantastic five, tenacious Toure will be aiming to scoop the top gong for what would be a joint record fourth time. Having lifted this crown three times in a row for his exploits with the Sky Blues (6/1 to win the Premier League), the 31-year-old should be favourite once again.
Despite being key to City’s title triumph last term, netting an impressive 20 league goals, the usually influential Ivorian was under-par in Brazil and has taken his poor form into the new season for the Citizens. With the blue half of Manchester facing elimination from the Champions League group stage yet again, his recent off-colour outings could prove detrimental.