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Dublin: 0°C Friday 4 December 2020

Ranking the 10 best players set to compete at the Africa Cup of Nations

Premier League PFA Player of the Year Riyad Mahrez is among the footballers to feature in our list.

10. Faouzi Ghoulam (Algeria/Napoli)

Benfica v Napoli - UEFA Champions League - Group B - Estadio Da Luz Source: EMPICS Sport

HAS MADE NEARLY 100 appearances since joining Napoli from Saint-Étienne in 2014. The 25-year-old also has five goals in 23 appearances for Algeria and is one of four representatives from the country on this list.

9. Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast/Man United)

Manchester United v Middlesbrough - Premier League - Old Trafford Source: Dave Thompson

Has looked well-suited to the Premier League since joining Man United from Villarreal in the summer, injury problems and the form of others has slowed down Bailly’s progress to a degree of late. However, the 22-year-old defender still looks set to be a star of the future, and he has already picked up 17 caps for his native Ivory Coast.

8. Yacine Brahimi (Algeria/Porto)

FC Porto v Leicester City - UEFA Champions League - Group G - Estadio Do Dragao Source: EMPICS Sport

Bought from Granada CF for a fee of €6.5 million in 2014, the winger quickly established himself as a key player for Porto, starring both domestically and in the Champions League. The Paris-born star played at underage level for France, but has since won 31 caps for Algeria, scoring seven goals in the process, after declaring for the African country in 2013.

7. Islam Slimani (Algeria/Leicester)

Stoke City v Leicester City - Premier League - Bet365 Stadium Source: PA Archive/PA Images

Bought by Leicester from Sporting for a reported £28 million after hitting 48 goals in 82 appearances during a three-year spell with the latter. Slimani may have struggled to live up to his lofty price tag with just five goals in 13 appearances thus far for the Foxes, but the 28-year-old is undoubtedly a quality player as 23 goals in 46 appearances for Algeria suggests.

6. Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal/Napoli)

Benfica v Napoli - UEFA Champions League - Group B - Estadio Da Luz Source: EMPICS Sport

An integral presence at the heart of Napoli’s defence since joining the club from Racing Genk in 2014, Koulibaly was linked with a big-money move to Chelsea in the summer. He represented France, the country of his birth, at underage level, but made the switch to Senegal in 2015, subsequently earning 11 caps for the country.

5. Serge Aurier (Ivory Coast/PSG)

France Soccer League One Source: Laurent Cipriani

The 24-year-old right-back has quickly become an important player for PSG after joining them from Toulouse in 2015, winning two league titles along with a number of other trophies. He already has 31 caps for Ivory Coast and was named in the CAF Team of the Year for both 2015 and 2016.

4. Mohamed Salah (Egypt/Roma)

Italy Soccer Serie A Source: Luca Bruno

Perhaps prematurely cast aside by Chelsea having managed two goals in 13 appearances after joing the Londoners from Basel, Salah has been exceptional since moving to Italy, with Roma signing the player for a reported €15 million after a successful loan spell there. For Egypt, he has 27 goals in 45 appearances.

3. Sadio Mané (Senegal/Liverpool)

Everton v Liverpool - Premier League - Goodison Park Source: PA Archive/PA Images

A revelation since joining Liverpool, Mane has registered nine goals in 21 appearances after joining the club from Southampton in the summer, with the player likely to be badly missed by the Anfield club in the coming weeks. The 24-year-old is also a key player for Senegal with 10 goals in 38 appearances.

2. Riyad Mahrez (Algeria/Leicester)

FC Copenhagen v Leicester City - UEFA Champions League - Group G - Parken Stadium Source: Tim Goode

The deserving winner of the PFA Player of the Season for 2015-16, Mahrez inspired Leicester to a first Premier League title last year. He may have struggled to hit similar heights this season, with three goals in 20 appearances compared with 17 in 37 last year, but Mahrez remains a winger of world-class calibre. In 27 caps for Algeria, he has registered six goals.

1. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon/Borussia Dortmund)

Germany Bundesliga Soccer Source: Michael Sohn

Without a doubt one of the world’s top strikers, Aubameyang has scored 20 goals in 22 appearances for Dortmund this season and continues to be linked with several of Europe’s top clubs. For Gabon, meanwhile, he has managed 21 goals in 52 appearances.

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Paul Fennessy

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