Top 25 African players of 2018
As 2018 concludes, KingFut’s Luke McBride ranks the top 25 African players of 2018.
25. Salif Sane – Schalke – Senegal
Having been a loyal servant for Hannover for five years, Sane earnt the biggest move of his career on a free agent to Schalke in the summer. While his side have struggled overall, Sane has proven to be one of the few bright spots in their season potentially because of manager Domenico Tedesco’s defensive approach compared to most other Bundesliga sides. While his form in the Bundesliga still has some room for improvement, Sane has been stellar in the Champions League where Schalke have progressed to the knockout stage, as well as catching the eye in the 2018 World Cup for Senegal where they were unlucky to go out in the group stage.
24. Djené Dakonam – Getafe – Togo
Compared to many of the other African born players on this list, Djene is something of a late bloomer. Having started out in Togo, he began to make a name for himself at Cameroon’s most famous club Coton Sport before departing for Europe at 23. After stints in the lower Spanish leagues and in Belgium, Djene earnt a move to newly promoted La Liga side Getafe and he took to top level football like a duck to water, being the key man in a defence that conceded the third least amount of goals in the Spanish top flight behind just Atletico Madrid and Barcelona at 33. This season they have picked up where they left off with just Atletico conceding more so far as Getafe are now at a relative high point of 7th in the table, and Djene’s superb form has seen him linked with a potentially career defining move to European giants Barcelona.
23. Walid Soliman – Al Ahly – Egypt
Walid has truly rolled back the years in 2018. While he appeared to be on the decline a few years ago, at 34 years old Walid was able to play a pivotal role both domestically and on the continent as his 8 goals and 5 assists in Al Ahly’s Egyptian Premier League win was somewhat dwarfed by his 6 goals and 4 assists to get the Red Devils to the CAF Champions League final where they would eventually lose to Esperance. In particular, Walid scored what probably should have been the competition’s winning goals with two in the 3-1 first leg win before his side capitulated, however Walid finishes the year with his head held high.
22. Jean-Marc Makusu – Vita Club – DR Congo
Makusu’s 2018 has been something of a surprise to Egyptian football fans after he failed to make any impact during his brief stint at Wadi Degla, but his form back in his native DR Congo has been impossible to deny. Since moving to Vita Club at the start of the year, Makusu has astonishingly scored over 40 goals in all competitions with the most prominent of those being in the CAF Confederation Cup where he scored 11 en route to making the final. In the knockout stages of that competition, Makusu provided the finishing touches against RS Berkane of Morocco and Egypt’s Al Masry and while his goal in the final against Raja Casablanca was not enough to secure the title, he has finally been able to break into the DR Congo national team and will look to continue his impact in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations should the Leopards qualify.
21. Mbwana Samatta – Genk – Tanzania
This year Tanzania’s star man has proven that you do not need to move to Europe straight away to have an impactful career there. Samatta plied his trade with Simba and TP Mazembe until he was 24, and while they are both reputable clubs by African standards he still took his opportunity to go for the stardom that Europe has to offer when he moved to Belgian giants Genk in 2016. After taking a while to adjust, Samatta has been on fire this season having already scored 21 goals headed into Christmas after playing a starring role in the playoff against Charleroi to qualify his side for the Europa League. In that competition, Samatta scored 3 goals in a tough group to finish above Besiktas, Malmo and Sarpsborg to set up a knockout stage tie with Slavia Prague. On the international front, Samatta has been Tanzania’s star man as they are potentially on the verge of qualifying for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations with goals against Lesotho and Cape Verde that leave the Taifa stars needing a tricky win against Uganda to have a chance at qualifying.
20. Mbaye Diagne – Kasimpasa – Senegal
Since Trezeguet’s move to Kasimpasa in 2017, KingFut have covered the Turkish side extensively. While Trezeguet has been superb there, it is Diagne who has stolen the headlines so far as he has scored a truly remarkable amount of goals this year. Having developed as a youngster in Italy including a spell at Juventus, Diagne has used all of his experience to score 30 goals in 34 games since moving to Turkey in January with Kasimpasa currently 2nd in the table behind Istanbul Basaksehir. So far this season, Diagne has more than twice as many goals as the second top scorer and has earnt his first call ups for the Lions of Teranga, although he was unfortunate to fail to make the cut for the 2018 World Cup. If he can bring his goalscoring exploits to the international scene, Senegal may finally have the last piece of the puzzle to finally win the competition for the first time.
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