Liverpool winger Mo Salah named 2017 African Player of the Year

Liverpool winger Mo Salah named 2017 African Player of the Year

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah has been named the African Player of the Year having shone for AS Roma, Egypt and the Reds - scoring 23 goals so far for the latter.

Charlie Malam

Liverpool winger Mohamed Salah has been crowned Confederation of African Football's Player of the Year after the most productive calendar year of his career so far.

Overall, Salah made 59 appearances for club and country, scoring 38 goals and laying on 19 assists - the majority of those coming for the Reds after a £36.9 million deal to move to Merseyside in June.

His electric form ensured that he fought off competition from Liverpool team-mate Sadio Mané, who finished second, and third-placed Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The coaches and captain of every men's national team in Africa voted in favour of Salah despite Aubameyang scoring 44 goals in 54 games for Dortmund and Gabon, while Senegal winger Mané managed 12 goals and seven assists in 28 appearances - his 2016-17 ended prematurely due to injury. 

But Salah deservedly claims his latest individual accolade, having also been named BBC African Footballer of the Year last month.

The 25-year-old was also named in the 2017 AFCON Team of the Tournament back in February, won the Premier League Player of the Month for November and has won the club's monthly award for August, September and November.


Salah caps magnificent year with another award

The Egypt international has enjoyed a magnificent 12 months, scoring 10 goals and laying on nine assists in the first few months of the year to help AS Roma to a second-placed finish in Serie A.

That saw Liverpool spend a then club-record fee to bring Salah, also previously a transfer target in 2013 when he played for FC Basel, to the club and he instantly hit the ground running.

Salah has scored 23 goals and contributed a further eight assists in just 29 appearances, including 17 strikes in the Premier League - a remarkable and unrivalled average of a goal every 94 minutes.

He is only the second Liverpool player to score 23 goals before New Year's Day since Roger Hunt in 1961-62, no player having scored more.

On the international stage, Salah scored five goals - adding two assists - in 10 caps, including his pivotal brace and 94th-minute penalty in a 2-1 win over DR Congo that sent the Pharoahs to the 2018 World Cup, their first finals since 1990.

That came after he helped Egypt finish as Africa Cup of Nations runners-up in January. They lost out to Cameroon in the final in Gabon, following Salah's effort in a 1-1 semi-final draw that went to penalties - the forward also netting his shoot-out spot-kick.

Salah hails accolade as a "special moment" 

After receiving the award, Salah said at the ceremony: "It was very difficult to explain that moment to qualify to the World Cup after 28 years. And to have a great season with the clubs, with Roma and Liverpool. This award is a big award for me. It's a special moment for me in my career."

In addition, Egypt won Team of the Year while national team boss Héctor Cúper won the CAF Manager of the Year award.

Salah and team-mate Mané flew out to Ghanian capital of Accra on Thursday, returning on an overnight flight via private jet - with Mané in contention to face Everton in an FA Cup third-round tie at Anfield on Friday night.

Salah is unavailable due to a small muscle injury that kept him out of the New Year's Day win at Burnley on Monday - the first league game he has missed all season - but should return to fitness for the clash with Manchester City on January 14.

Klopp told the media on Thursday of his decision to allow Mané and Salah to make the 9,000-mile round trip: "It is not a problem, we have everything organised. We have two of the three best African players in our squad. We have to show them respect. We are going to sleep in a hotel the night before the match, they are going to sleep on a plane. That is the only difference."