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Ballon d’Or

Who Are Africa's Five 2019 Ballon d'Or Nominees?

Five African superstars are among the 30 footballers who will compete for the 2019 Ballon d'Or tonight, but who are they and what are their chances of walking away with football's most prestigious individual prize?

Click through the mini-gallery above to see Africa's five nominees for the Ballon d'Or

Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah is currently the crown jewel of African football. The Egypt international has been Liverpool's star man since joining from AS Roma in 2017, and has won the Premier League Golden Boot award in each of his two full seasons at the club (shared with Sadio Mane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang last season). 

His output in the 2018/19 campaign, and indeed in 2019, has been lower than in previous campaigns, but Salah still played a starring role for the Reds as they claimed a sixth UEFA Champions League crown and challenged Manchester City for the Premier League title. 

The former Chelsea forward has netted 20 goals for the calendar year, which is the third-most by any African player in 2019 behind Mane (27) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (28), and his strong performances have made him a strong contender for a podium position. 

Sadio Mane

Another of the seven Liverpool players who have been nominated for the Ballon d'Or is Salah's strike partner Sadio Mane, who is a strong contender for this year's award after playing a similarly starring role for the Reds last season. 

Mane was one of the three recipients of the Premier League Golden Boot award after a strong burst in the second half of the 2018/19 campaign, and has started the 2019/20 season with a return of eight goals in 14 EPL appearances, as well as a match-winning brace in the UEFA Super Cup. 

The Senegal international's claim for the award is strengthened further after his showing at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, where he was instrumental in guiding his nation to a first final since 2002.

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Kalidou Koulibaly

Mane's international teammate and captain Kalidou Koulibaly is an outside contender for this year's award, but the Napoli defender has fast emerged as one of world football's leading centre-backs. 

The combative 28-year-old, who is famed for his strength in the air, ability on the ball and incredible defensive prowess, raised his game in 2019, solidifying his status as a star player for both club and country

As with Mane, Koulibaly played a key role for Senegal at AFCON 2019 and has been a mainstay for Gli Azzurri in Serie A despite the club's domestic struggles this season.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Gabon international Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has taken the Premier League by storm since arriving at Arsenal midway through the 2017/18 campaign, and crowned his rise with a share in the Golden Boot award last season. 

The 30-year-old is unlikely to make a marked impact on the voting polls for the coveted Ballon d'Or given his club's poor form and off-field issues, but deserves his nomination after reaching the UEFA Europa League final and starring as Africa's leading goalscorer in 2019 with 28 goals to his name. 

Aubameyang has maintained his goalscoring rate in the current campaign, having already scored 12 goals in 17 appearances for the Gunners across all competitions.

Riyad Mahrez

Africa's fifth and final nominee is Manchester City and Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez. The French-born forward has been nominated for the 2019 award after leading his nation to a second-ever Africa Cup of Nations crown in July. 

Mahrez also impressed for City after initially struggling to break into Pep Guardiola's first team, and made a valuable contribution as the club completed a historic quadruple by winning the league, the FA Cup, the League Cup and the Community Shield titles. 

Read: 2019 Ballon d'Or Winner Leaked?

The 28-year-old has aided his side's cause with eight goals in 2019, but is considered an outside contender for this year's award.

Do you think an African player can win the Ballon d'Or this year? Share your thoughts by commenting in the section below. 

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