With the Fifa Ballon d’Or shortlist revealed, Goal examine which African player can most feel aggrieved about being excluded.
Oluwaseye Omidiora’s view: Naby Keita
The last few years have been nothing short of a whirlwind for RasenBallsport Leipzig as much as they have been for Naby Keita.
Having risen from the NOFV-Oberliga Sud (V) to the Bundesliga in under a decade, the Bulls didn’t just make up the numbers, but made an instant impression in their first year in the top tier.
Keita, as well, made an impression which could be likened to a storm appearing suddenly out of a clear blue sky.
Having made the move from RB Leipzig’s sister club Red Bull Salzburg, the central midfielder has been reinventing the position in modern football.
Likened to Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante for his tackling skill and exemplary reading of the game – one could assume that’s all he has to his game, yet, there’re much more facets to this fine midfielder’s style that shows he’s nothing similar to the Frenchman.
The fizzing midfielder wasted no time in showing what could do and scored the winner on his debut against Borussia Dortmund to lay down a real marker for the rest of the season.
The Bulls were neck and neck with Carlo Ancelotti’s Bayern Munich for the first half of the campaign, but ultimately fell short.
Credit should go to the whole side, but Keita’s performances were head and shoulders above his peers. The lively midfielder completed more dribbles than any other central midfielder in Europe’s top five leagues and completed the joint second successful through balls in the German top flight.
Adept at starting moves from deep with his passing range, he’s equally brilliant at timing his runs into the penalty area to finish off sequences of play.
Besides being unbelievable going forward, the Guinea international is tenacious and energetic and breaks down play with consummate ease.
The high rate of his successful tackles and interceptions also ranked as the highest in Europe’s top five leagues which epitomizes just how much impact he’s had in a year.
Yet, it’s baffling to think the sparkling box-to-box midfielder wasn’t considered among the 30 nominees for the Ballon d’Or.
For someone who statistically outdid Kante and arguably had more impact than Philippe Coutinho or even Kevin De Bruyne, it’s a shame his exploits weren’t recognized.
The Guinean has every right to feel hard done by for the snub, as every football fan should!
Solace Chukwu’s View: Victor Moses
Individual awards in football are a tricky thing, in that the criteria are never clear. But if the best player is (one of) the most influential in one of the best sides, then it is impossible to understand quite why Victor Moses is not on the shortlist for the FIFA Ballon d’Or.
Now, hear me out.
Moses, for all his obvious talent and game-changing ability, is not going to win the Ballon d’Or; heck, he's a long shot even to be named Africa's best footballer, but neither are 29 others in the 30-man shortlist.
Aside the two Africans that were named, Moses has the strongest case for inclusion.
Chelsea were brilliant in the Premier League last season, and quickly turned a lacklustre opening to the season into a relentless march to the title.
That metamorphosis didn't require a transfer window. It required a makeover, one of the most unprecedented arguably in the history of the Premier League: Moses, from mercurial, paperweight winger to marauding wing-back.
That reinvention was the catalyst for a maiden Premier League title for Antonio Conte, won at a canter.
From being an afterthought, Moses became easily the most important player for the Stamford Bridge side; certainly the most irreplaceable, owning the entire right flank, and arousing the interest of Barcelona at one time.
The added belief and responsibility has also made him a better, more rounded footballer – more team-oriented, less apt to disappear, more intelligent without the ball.
Unsurprisingly, even with the acquisition of a specialist wing-back in the summer, Moses remains first choice; since his conversion, Chelsea have won only two of the five games for which he was unavailable: it is simply the case that the best team in the world's biggest league cannot do without him.
Wing-back is perhaps not a glamorous enough position, but few other players had the sort of transformative effect on their clubs that Moses did.