Who will be the successor to the Ivorian Nicolas Pépé, winner of the RFI-France 24 Marc-Vivien Foé award in 2019? After the broadcast, Friday May 29, of the list of finalists, the noose tightens. Selected by nearly 100 journalists specializing in French and African football, they are now 11 to be able to claim under this improbable season, cut short by the Covid-19 health crisis.
A selection that will not fail to recall memories to the followers of the CAN-2019, since more than half of the contenders come from Algeria or Senegal, finalists of the last African Cup. The Teranga Lions, in particular, are omnipresent with no less than four named players. Here are the 11 finalists, in alphabetical order:
• Yunis ABDELHAMID (MOROCCO / Reims) - Defender
Yunis Abdelhamid. © Jean-François Monier, AFP
The Lion of the Atlas is one of the great craftsmen of 6th place in Reims in the classification. So much so that the Moroccan figure in the typical team of the season, established by the magazine France Football, and was the defender best rated by the newspaper L'Équipe. The 32-year-old player could finally discover the European Cup, his club being on the brink of participation in the Europa League.
• Denis BOUANGA (GABON / Saint-Étienne) - Forward
Denis Bouanga. © Philippe Desmazes, AFP
Arriving from Nîmes last summer, the 25-year-old Gabonese had a little trouble adjusting the first weeks. Then he resumed the rhythm of past seasons. Result: the versatile striker finished with 10 goals and 3 assists in 26 Ligue 1 games. With the "Greens", he has reached another level and now seems to arouse the desires of more upscale clubs.
• Andy DELORT (ALGERIA / Montpellier) - Forward
Andy Delort. © Gérard Julien, AFP
The African champion continued his momentum, after a radiant summer with the Algerian selection. He certainly scored less than last season, with 9 goals in 26 games against 14 registered in 36 games during the 2018-2019 fiscal year. But the 28-year-old striker seems perfectly fulfilled in his native region.
• Habib DIALLO (SENEGAL / Metz) - Forward
Habib Diallo. © Jean-Christophe Verhaegen.
The former resident of Génération Foot perpetuates the tradition of talented Senegalese who have gone through the Metz club, from Jules Bocandé to Ismaïla Sarr via Papiss Cissé or Sadio Mané. After helping Metz move up to Ligue 1 in 2019, the 24-year-old center-forward helped keep him in the first division, with 12 goals in 26 games.
• Idrissa GUEYE (SENEGAL / Paris SG) - Midfielder
Idrissa Gueye. © Lucas Barioulet, AFP
Rarely has a defensive player been expected as much in a major club. Even if he is not a pure defensive midfielder, the Senegalese aged 30, recruited last summer in Everton (England), filled a glaring shortage in this position with constancy, application and ardor. To the point of quickly attracting the sympathy of the supporters of PSG.
• Édouard MENDY (SENEGAL / Rennes) - Goalkeeper
Edouard Mendy. © Jean-François Monier, AFP
The Lions of Teranga are spoiled. With Mendy and Alfred Gomis, they have two excellent goalkeepers in Ligue 1. Gomis could also have been on this list if he hadn't injured himself in early February. The goalkeeper of Stade Rennais, in any case, confirmed with Rennes his great performances from the seasons spent in Reims.
• MBaye NIANG (SENEGAL / Rennes) - Forward
Mbaye Niang. © Philippe Desmazes, AFP
At 25, the former great hope of French football has certainly not confirmed its full potential. But in Rennes, the one who opted for the Senegalese selection confirmed that he was an impressive striker, with 10 goals in particular. What pique the interest of other clubs, again?
• Victor OSIMHEN (NIGERIA / Lille) - Forward
Victor Osimhen. © François Lo Presti, AFP
Will the Nigerian be the fifth Lille winner to be the best African player in Ligue 1, after Gervinho (2010, 2011), Vincent Enyeama (2014), Sofiane Boufal (2016) and Nicolas Pépé (2019)? The 21-year-old center-forward in any case illustrates the LOSC's ability to find nuggets. With 13 goals and 4 assists in 27 games, the Super Eagle more than met expectations.
• Moses SIMON (NIGERIA / Nantes) - Midfielder
Moses Simon. © François Lo Presti, AFP
Loaned by Levante, the Nigerian signed up for 4 years with Nantes where he has just been elected player of the season. This eccentric midfielder / twirling winger, aged 24, has split 5 goals and 5 assists in Ligue 1. Among the Canaries, the one who has already passed through the Netherlands, Slovakia, Belgium and Spain, may be able to find the stability that will allow it to be essential in the Super Eagles.
• Islam SLIMANI (ALGERIA / Monaco) - Forward
Islam Slimani. © Yann Coatsaliou, AFP
We knew the Algerian for his precious goals and his ceaseless efforts, in Portugal, England and Turkey. With ASM, we discovered his technical finesse and his sense of the assist (8 for 9 achievements). The African champion has formed a beautiful duo with Wissam Ben Yedder. But, despite high-class performances, the 31-year-old did not always have the confidence of the new Monegasque coach, Robert Moreno.
• Hamari TRAORÉ (MALI / Rennes) - Defender
Hamari Traore. © Loïc Venance, AFP
Good side backs don't run the streets. So Rennes will no doubt have to insist on keeping the Malian. Especially since at 28 years old and after three seasons in Brittany, this right side full of energy wants to pass a course. Unless the prospect of playing in the Champions League pushes him to extend the adventure with the Red and Black…
NB: Players eligible to wear the colors of an African national team and having played at least 15 matches in Ligue 1 this season are eligible for the Marc-Vivien Foé Prize.
• The winners of previous editions:
2009: Marouane Chamakh (Morocco)
2010: Gervinho (Ivory Coast)
2011: Gervinho (Ivory Coast)
2012: Younès Belhanda (Morocco)
2013: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)
2014: Vincent Enyeama (Nigeria)
2015: André Ayew (Ghana)
2016: Sofiane Boufal (Morocco)
2017: Jean Michaël Seri (Ivory Coast)
2018: Karl Toko-Ekambi (Cameroon)
2019: Nicolas Pépé (Ivory Coast)
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