SINGAPORE - Wednesday, August 2, 2023: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during a pre-season friendly match between Liverpool FC and FC Bayern Munich FC at the Singapore National Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Mo Salah snubbed for African Footballer of the Year – despite outscoring the winner

Mohamed Salah was overlooked for the African Footballer of the Year award for 2023, despite comfortably being involved in more goals this year than the winner.

Salah was up against Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen (Napoli) and Morocco’s Achraf Hakimi (PSG) at a ceremony held in Marrakech on Monday evening.

It was Osimhen who topped the vote on the night, with his success telegraphed hours in advance as the only nominee to attend the event.

The 24-year-old was acknowledged for his prolific role in firing Napoli to the title in 2022/23, with 26 goals in 32 Serie A games, as well as five in five for Nigeria this year.

NAPLES, ITALY - Wednesday, September 7, 2022: SSC Napoli's Victor Osimhen (L) consoles Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (R) after a missed chance during the UEFA Champions League Group A matchday 1 game between SSC Napoli and Liverpool FC at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. Napoli won 4-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Osimhen picked up the award for the first time, with the last four ceremonies seeing Liverpool players lift the prize – Salah in 2017 and 2018, before Sadio Mane in 2019 and, after a break for Covid, 2022.

Salah, who scored his 200th goal for Liverpool on Saturday, was notable in his absence from the ceremony, though he arguably deserved to win.

Erling Haaland (44 goals, 12 assists) and Harry Kane (40 goals, nine assists) are the only players to have contributed more goals for clubs in Europe’s top five leagues across 2023 than Salah (28 goals, 19 assists).

Kylian Mbappe (39 goals, eight assists) is level with Salah, while Lautaro Martinez (36 goals, nine assists) rounds off the top five.

Liverpool’s No. 11 has scored one more goal than Osimhen this year as well as setting up 13 more than the Nigeria striker, who has contributed to 33 goals in all competitions for Napoli (27 goals, six assists).

Mohamed Salah of Egypt celebrates after scoring winning penalty during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations Play Offs - 1/8-finals match between Ivory Coast and Egypt at Japoma Stadium, Douala, January 26, 2022 in Douala, Cameroon. (Photo by SF)

Of course, goals and assists are not the be all and end all when it comes to awards, but there is certainly a strong argument for Salah to have won it for a third time.

As it stands, Liverpool are tied with Marseille and Man City for the most winners of the African Footballer of the Year, with all three clubs seeing their players lift it four times.

Only Samuel Eto’o (four), Yaya Toure (four), George Weah (three) and Abedi Pele (three) have won it more times than Salah, who is level with Mane, Didier Drogba, Roger Milla, Nwankwo Kanu and El Hadji Diouf.

Salah is only the second Egyptian to win, after Mahmoud El Khatib in 1983.