AFCON 2022: Ranking the top 10 players set to star in African championship

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Mohamed Salah Achraf Hakimi Riyad Mahrez AFCON 2022 Getty Images

The Africa Cup of Nations is ever a star-studded event, and portion that tin enactment a strain connected high-profile clubs that suffer immoderate of their champion players, fans get the accidental to watch some of the world's champion successful enactment connected the planetary stage.

A big of apical attacking players volition beryllium taking portion successful AFCON 2022, but determination are besides plentifulness of goalkeepers, defenders, and midfield maestros who are undisputed world-class talents.

While galore of the apical stars hail from the Premier League, determination are besides players from Serie A, Ligue 1, and adjacent the Eredivisie arsenic Europe sends immoderate of its featured protagonists to the competition.

MORE: All Premier League players called up to AFCON 2022

Top 10 players astatine the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations

10. Achraf Hakimi (Right back, Morocco)

  • Club: Paris Saint-Germain (France)
  • Age: 23
  • Caps: 41
  • Goals: 5

Hakimi has been 1 of the champion young talents successful Africa for years now, arsenic evidenced by his 41 planetary caps by age 23. Earning a big-money determination from Inter Milan to PSG this past summer, Hakimi has deed the crushed moving successful Paris, wherever helium has contributed 3 goals and 3 assists from his close backmost position. He has been a fixture successful the Morocco lineup implicit the past 2 years, and played each infinitesimal of the team's run to the knockout signifier of AFCON 2019. Teammate Youssef En-Nesyri volition beryllium the beneficiary of Hakimi's crosses.

9. Kalidou Koulibaly (Center back, Senegal)

  • Club: Napoli (Italy)
  • Age: 30
  • Caps: 53
  • Goals: 0

The Napoli prima made headlines 2 years agone arsenic a imaginable high-value transportation target, and helium inactive remains 1 of the apical defenders successful Europe. SofaScore has rated Koulibaly arsenic the champion cardinal defender successful Serie A this season, portion WhoScored puts him second. Koulibaly is struggling with a hamstring injury, but was included successful Senegal's squad, suggesting helium could beryllium disposable soon. It's nary coincidence that Napoli mislaid conscionable 1 league lucifer until his injury, astatine which constituent the nine mislaid 3 of 4 during his absence.

8. Wilfred Ndidi (Defender / Midfielder, Nigeria)

  • Club: Leicester City (England)
  • Age: 25
  • Caps: 43 caps
  • Goals: 0

Leicester City, already beset by injuries, volition miss Ndidi successful the worst way. He is 1 of the astir underrated players in the Premier League, and volition beryllium captious to Nigeria's chances for a palmy tournament. Shifted to center backmost astatine times, Ndidi is averaging astir 4 palmy tackles per lucifer and has assumed N'Golo Kante's mantle arsenic a midfield unit with the Foxes. While Kelechi Iheanacho and Ahmed Musa receive the plaudits successful beforehand of goal, it volition beryllium Ndidi's performances that volition find however acold Nigeria tin go.

MORE: Who volition triumph AFCON? Betting likelihood & futures

7. Sebastien Haller (Forward, Ivory Coast)

  • Club: Ajax (Netherlands)
  • Age: 27
  • Caps: 8
  • Goals: 3

While Haller looked mediocre astatine champion during his Premier League spell with West Ham, helium is an wholly antithetic subordinate this play and a existent campaigner for the tournament's apical scorer title. Indeed, helium tin assertion to beryllium successful the champion signifier of anyone successful the competition, scoring an unthinkable 10 goals implicit his six Champions League group-stage matches this campaign, positive different 12 successful 17 Eredivisie matches. Look past Haller and you mightiness conscionable miss retired connected 1 of the astir breathtaking players successful the tournament. He could feast, particularly erstwhile supported by Wilfried Zaha and Nicolas Pepe successful the attack.

6. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Forward, Gabon)

  • Club: Arsenal (England)
  • Age: 32
  • Caps: 71
  • Goals: 29

Frozen retired of the Arsenal squad and rumored to beryllium pushing his mode out, this period Aubameyang volition beryllium other bare to diagnostic astatine the AFCON lawsuit and punctual the satellite — and Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta — of his value. Aubameyang started the league play dilatory earlier his eventual banishment, and the planetary signifier presents a accidental for a instrumentality to his best. Since November of 2020, done AFCON qualification and World Cup qualification, Gabon is 4W-0L-0D erstwhile Aubameyang scores a extremity and 0W-5L-1D erstwhile helium doesn't, truthful their tourney hopes hinge wholly connected his occurrence successful beforehand of goal.

5. Thomas Partey (Midfielder, Ghana)

  • Club: Arsenal (England)
  • Age: 28
  • Caps: 34
  • Goals: 12

Thomas Partey has softly transitioned into 1 of the astir invaluable players successful the Premier League, and his nonaccomplishment volition beryllium felt astatine Arsenal. Indeed, the Gunners are rumored to beryllium dipping into the transportation marketplace conscionable to screen the period helium could beryllium gone. Second among the Arsenal squad successful palmy tackles and 3rd successful palmy dribbles, Partey is simply a existent box-to-box endowment who tin pb Ghana heavy into the knockout stage.

4. Edouard Mendy (Goalkeeper, Senegal)

  • Club: Chelsea (England)
  • Age: 29
  • Caps: 16
  • Goals: 0

Attacking endowment tops this database for evident reasons, but Edouard Mendy has proven himself 1 of the champion Premier League players since arriving astatine Chelsea successful 2020, and his talent should beryllium connected afloat show successful this competition. Mendy helped propulsion Senegal to the last of the 2019 competition, and they'll person an oculus connected overcoming the last hurdle this clip around. The 29-year-old is statistically-speaking 1 of the apical goalkeepers in the EPL this season, ranked successful the apical 5 by some WhoScored and SofaScore, meaning Senegal is getting 1 of the world's champion astatine highest form.

MORE: Chelsea brag aggravated Mane didn't spot red

3. Sadio Mane (Forward, Senegal)

  • Club: Liverpool (England)
  • Age: 29
  • Caps: 80 caps
  • Goals: 26

Liverpool is losing a brace of apical attackers, and Sadio Mane prepares to pb a star-studded Senegal squad. Mane has looked bushed from overuse astatine times for Liverpool this season, and it wouldn't beryllium shocking to spot Senegal remainder him astatine times passim the radical stage, but the tourney could besides supply an accidental for the Reds prima to get backmost to his best: Mane has scored 7 goals successful his past 11 Senegal appearances entering the competition.

2. Riyad Mahrez (Forward, Algeria)

  • Club: Manchester City (England)
  • Age: 30
  • Caps: 70
  • Goals: 26

The champion subordinate connected the defending African champions, Mahrez has established himself arsenic 1 of the astir important players connected Man City this play and should bring fantabulous attacking signifier to the tournament. Mahrez scored a captious extremity precocious successful a 2019 AFCON semifinal and should person much important contributions to marque this play arsenic Algeria hopes to support its title.

1. Mohamed Salah (Forward, Egypt)

  • Club: Liverpool (England)
  • Age: 29
  • Caps: 74
  • Goals: 45

The prima of the show, Mohamed Salah is successful spectacular goalscoring form, starring the Premier League successful goals. He will anticipation that signifier carries implicit into AFCON, wherever Salah will be the astir prolific goalscorer of immoderate subordinate successful the tournament: 45 planetary goals crossed 74 caps.

Other players to ticker astatine AFCON 2022

  • Eric Bailly (Defender, Ivory Coast / Manchester United)
  • Baghdad Bounedjah (Forward, Algeria / Al Sadd)
  • Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (Forward, Cameroon / Bayern Munich)
  • Kelechi Iheanacho (Forward, Nigeria / Leicester City)
  • Naby Keita (Midfielder, Guinea / Liverpool)
  • Wahbi Khazri (Forward, Tunisia / Saint-Etienne)
  • Rais M'Bolhi (Goalkeeper, Algeria / Al-Ettifaq FC)
  • Andre Onana (Goalkeeper, Cameroon / Ajax)
  • Nicolas Pepe (Forward, Ivory Coast / Arsenal)
  • Romain Saiss (Defender, Morocco / Wolves)
  • Jean-Michel Seri (Midfielder, Ivory Coast / Fulham FC)
  • Trezeguet (Midfielder, Egypt / Aston Villa)
  • Wilfried Zaha (Forward, Ivory Coast / Crystal Palace)
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