A thirty man shortlist for this year’s ‘Oscars’ of professional soccer alias Ballon d’Or has been unveiled.
In it features five African footballers including Egypt’s Mohamed Salah, Gabon’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez and Senegalese duo Kalidou Koulibaly and Sadio Mane.
While predictions suggest a two-way battle between Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus F.C. looking at third, the five nominated African players have all contributed to the success of their respective teams in a major way this year.
Egypt’s Salah won the Champions League and UEFA Super Cup with Liverpool while Senegalese duo Koulibaly and Mane were instrumental in getting their national team to finish in second place at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations. Mahrez ultimately helped Algeria bring the victory home at the same tournament. Aubameyang, on the other hand, helped Arsenal reach the finals of the Europa League and was awarded the Premier League Golden Boot in the 2018/2019 season with both Salah and Mane.
An important subcategory of the Ballon d’Or is the Kopa Trophy which is awarded by previous Ballon d’Or winners to the best-performing player under the age of 21. Nigerian player and winger for Villarreal, Samuel Chukwueze, has been shortlisted for this year’s award.
Established in 1956, the prestigious award was previously only given to Europe-based players. However, it is now awarded to the best player in the world.
The winner of the Ballon d’Or will be announced at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris on December 2nd 2019.