Ballon d’Or Shortlist Includes Riyad Mahrez And Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Ballon d’Or Shortlist Includes Riyad Mahrez And Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

The shortlist for the Ballon d’Or award which recognises the best soccer player in the world was released this week, with two African players included among the 30 nominees.

The two African players nominated for the award are Algerian Riyad Mahrez and Gabon’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Both were also recently nominated for the CAF African Player of the Year accolade, with the duo among the favourites to scoop the continental prize.

As far as the global award is concerned, however, the two attacking players are not expected to threaten the monopoly that the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have on the annual accolade.

Both Mahrez and Aubameyang, who is the current African Player of the Year, have enjoyed stellar seasons with their respective clubs during the past year, earning them a spot alongside the other 28 standout performers from across the globe.

African Ballon d’Or hopefuls

The Algerian was the star of Leicester City’s successful English Premier League title winning campaign in 2015-16, with the Foxes completing a fairytale season by beating the 5000-1 odds and securing their first ever top-flight title.

Mahrez’s contribution was immense, showcasing supreme skill and pace to score 17 and create 11 goals last term for Claudio Ranieri’s side.

The EPL victory ensured UEFA Champions League soccer this season, and despite the struggles they have had in the Premier League this time around, the Foxes have won three out of three matches in Europe’s premier club competition thanks to goals from Mahrez in each of the three encounters.

Both the Algerian and his Gabonese counterpart will be taking part in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) early next year, with the competition set to be hosted in the Borussia Dortmund striker’s homeland.

Aubameyang’s goalscoring form in Germany and in Europe continues to thrust him into the spotlight.

His 25 goals in 31 Bundesliga games last term ensured his status as a major transfer target during the European summer, but he showed his loyalty by remaining with his German club.

Africans have not typically done well in the Player of the Year stakes, particularly in recent times, with the last African to win the prize being Liberia’s George Weah in 1995.

A panel of global journalists will decide on the eventual winner of the Ballon d’Or award, which will be announced at an event in January.