The five contenders for the 2013 African Footballer of the Year have been announced, with three Premier League stars in the running to win the prestigious accolade.
Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel, Liverpool loanee Victor Moses and Manchester City’s Yaya Toure have been named, along with Burkina Faso’s Jonathan Pitroipa and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Gabon.
None of the five contenders have ever won the award, but what are the Premier League trio’s chances?
Both Mikel and Moses played critical roles in Nigeria’s African Cup of Nations success earlier in the year; the nation’s first success in almost 20 years.
Defensive midfielder Mikel was deployed in a more offensive role for his country, and showcased skill and creativity that sometimes gets stifled in his deep-lying position at Stamford Bridge.
The enforcer scored his first goal in seven years for the Blues this term, and has been in and out of Jose Mourinho’s side over the last number of months.
Moses demonstrated his considerable ability in the African Cup of Nations, and was arguably the best player in the tournament. Devastating pace, an eye for goal and swift counter-attacking from Moses were key facets of Nigeria’s success.
At club level the former Wigan man played a role in Chelsea’s Europa League success under Rafa Benitez last term, but was frozen out upon Mourinho’s arrival. A loan switch to Liverpool has given the attacker time on the pitch, and he has been a part of the Anfield side that has rose to second in the Premier League table.
Toure will feel that it is about time he won the African Player of the Year award, as this is his fifth nomination in a row.
Although not showing his best form for Ivory Coast, the Manchester City man has been the most impressive of the five contenders at club level.
A driving force in the Etihad Stadium side’s midfield, despite the influx of world-class talent to the Manchester club, Toure remains one of the team’s most important players.
The likelihood is that the City man may well have to wait another year, as Nigeria’s success at national level will take precedence when the decision is made.
44 African football journalists’ votes were taken into consideration to compile the shortlist, with the winner to be announced on December 2.
image: © Ben Sutherland