• The final shortlist for the 2019 Ballon d’Or has been revealed.
  • It features 30 names including popular footballers like Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi and Van Dijk.
  • It also has five names from Africa.

Five African footballers have made it to the 30-man shortlist for the 2019 Ballon d’Or.

Presented by France Football, the contenders for this highly coveted annual football award are:

  • Mohamed Salah — Egypt
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang — Gabon
  • Riyad Mahrez —Algeria 
  • Kalidou Koulibaly — Senegal
  • Sadio Mane — Senegal

They are going against Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk, Barcelona’s Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus F.C for the award which is given to the best player in the world.

Ballon d'Or 30-man shortlist revealed (dailymail)
Ballon d'Or 30-man shortlist revealed (dailymail)

This will be Ronaldo and Messi’s sixth time go head to head for the Ballon d’Or title. 

Why these five African players?

These nominated African players have been shortlisted for the hard work they have put in their respective teams.

Egypt’s Salah, who plays as a forward for Premier League club Liverpool, won the Champions League and UEFA Super Cup.

Aubameyang, a forward for Premier League club Arsenal, was previously awarded the Premier League Golden Boot in the 2018/2019 season. He also helped Arsenal reach the finals of the Europa League.

Mahrez is a winger for Premier League club Manchester City and captain of the Algerian national team. He played a major role in Algeria’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) win. 

Pep Guardiola, the City manager said, “All this season he is playing outstanding. The action on the first goal, the second one, the two assists he did, one especially to Raheem [Sterling]. His commitment defensively. One year, he was the best player in the league so he is an exceptional player."

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“I’m happy for him because he’s playing at an incredible level. I think the African Cup made him believe how good he can be. He knows it, but I think it helps to win this kind of trophy for Algeria, for his country. It was so important for him.”

Senegalese duo Koulibaly and Mane also helped their national team finish in second place at this year’s AFCON.

More good news for African players

Samuel Chukwueze, a Nigerian player, has been shortlisted for Kopa Trophy, a subcategory of the Ballon d’Or. This awarded by previous Ballon d’Or winners to the best-performing player under the age of 21. 

He will battle against Real Madrid’s Vinicius Junior, Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho, Arsenal’s Matteo Guendouzi, Juventus’ Matthijs de Ligt, Atlético de Madrid’s Joao Felix and four others. 

The winner of this year’s Ballon d’Or will be announced on December 2, 2019, at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris.

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