Officials from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) had a tough choice to make when selecting the male player who would be designated the best footballer of the year in 2017. With the Continent producing lots of talent in the 21st century, CAF officials narrowed down their choices to three players whose careers in top European clubs have been crucial in terms of elevating African football: Sadio Mané of Senegal, Mohamed Salah of Egypt and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Gabon.
In the end, Mohamed Salah, who is currently signed with Liverpool F.C. of the English Premier League along with Sadio Mané, received the most official votes by a wide margin, and he was also picked by football fans as a forward who would be perfect for a dream All-Africa team.
Salah is the first Egyptian player to receive this honor under the modern CAF format that follows FIFA standards. In addition to this distinction, he was voted best African player by BBC football analysts. It was an easy decision to make for those who follow the English Premier League; after all, Salah’s 23 personal goals in the current season, including UEFA Champions League matches, have not even been achieved by eight of his rival clubs.
The 25-year-old attacker has been increasing his goal count steadily since 2015, when he was on loan with Roma of the Italian Serie A; he has previously played with Chelsea in the English Premier League, but his current season with Liverpool has been the most decisive. At the national team level, Salah was instrumental in returning the Egyptian Pharaohs to international glory as he scored five goals during the qualification run. He will be a player to watch during the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia later this year.
Salah has been playing football for most of his life. In the two years he played with El Mokawloon, a youth club, he played a combination of midfield and forward positions before settling more comfortably as an attacker. He is a better player on the right wing than as a pure striker; when he was signed with Italian clubs, reporters called him “Messi of Egypt” due to his fine dribbling skills, but he is far more effective at the 11 than at the 10 position.
Football analysts believe that Salah’s run with Liverpool has made him a transfer candidate worth more than $300 million, a figure that could easily rise if he manages to score goals in the World Cup. The latest speculation is that he is ready to join big clubs in the Spanish League, which means that Real Madrid and Barcelona could make a move for their next season.