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Opinion

AFCON 2017: Which Premier League Star Will Shine the Brightest?

Tuesday 17th January 2017
The 2017 Africa Cup of Nations is well underway; we've seen some near-misses, goals, celebrations and plenty of fanfare that usually accompany an international tournament of this magnitude. A few Premier League stars are in Gabon trying to help their nation win the holy grail of African football – which of these stars would eclipse all others?

A lot have been said about how Premier League clubs are going to miss some of their integral players who will be representing their countries in the African Cup of Nations; however, not all of these players will leave an indelible mark in the competition – some will be catching a flight to England, as soon as the group stage is over – having been eliminated.

Without an iota of doubt, we know that one or two superstars from the Premier League will be the difference for their country in the biennial event – who could they be? I'll highlight some of the known names and leave you to make your choice.

Islam Slimani

 Slimani is one of the Premier League stars at the AFCON
Slimani is one of the Premier League stars at the AFCON
From his time at Sporting Lisbon, Islam Slimani has proved he is a striker who can score goals and bring others into play. The lanky Algerian forward signed for reigning Premier League Champions, Leicester City, last summer.

Slimani has already made one appearance in the ongoing AFCON for The Desert Warriors (Algeria) but failed to make an impact as Algeria managed a 2-2 draw with Zimbabwe.

Can Slimani go ahead to make a bigger impact in this year's AFCON? Will he emerge top scorer in the competition? We'll know in a couple of weeks.

Adre Ayew

 West Ham's Andre Ayew will aim to lead Ghana to nations cup glory
West Ham's Andre Ayew will aim to lead Ghana to nations cup glory
Andre Ayew is one Premier League player with the skill and finesses to light up any stage. Having left Marseille for free in 2015 to sign for Swansea, Ayew did so well for the Swans that in less than 365 days, another Premier League club (West Ham) paid as much as £20 million to acquire his services.

Ayew is yet to kick a ball in this year's tournament because Ghana is yet to play, however, with his never-say-die attitude, eye for goal and incredible shooting ability, Ayew could stand tall amongst Premier League stars at the AFCON.

Wilfried Zaha



Considering that he's lived in England from the age of four, here's one guy whose intonation will sound a lot different in the Ivorian dressing room. Zaha opted to play for his country of birth (Ivory Coast) despite featuring prominently for England in various age-grade competitions.
 Zaha was a surprise addition to the Ivory Coast team to the AFCON
Zaha was a surprise addition to the Ivory Coast team to the AFCON
Zaha has been a bright light in Crystal Palace's dark campaign this season. Wilfred Zaha will be one of the big names saddled with the responsibility of helping Ivory Coast defend the AFCON title they won two years ago.

Will Wilfred Zaha be the best performer among the big names from England? With that boring 0-0 draw against Togo, it's quite difficult to say.

Sadio Mané

 Sadio Mane celebrates scoring for Senegal
Sadio Mane celebrates scoring for Senegal
What a big miss for Liverpool; Sadio Mané is one of the reasons why Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool are title contenders. The Senegalese striker has been simply phenomenal for the Reds. Mané seems to have carried on his form for Liverpool to Senegal; he scored a penalty to help lift Senegal to a 2-nil win over Tunisia in their first group game.

Having got off the mark for his country, Sadio Mané is well on his way to having a brilliant tournament. Will he emerge the best Premier League player that featured in AFCON 2017?

Riyad Mahrez

 Mahrez has been the main star for Algeria at the AFCON so far
Mahrez has been the main star for Algeria at the AFCON so far
The reigning Premier League MVP is already showing everyone why he is revered in the Premier League, at least for last season. Mahrez has had a torrid time replicating the form that saw him win the best player award in the Premier League last season. However, as far as AFCON 2017 goes, Riyad Mahrez remains the leading scorer among Premier League players with two well-taken goals.

Do you think Riyad Mahrez will outshine every other Premier League player at the AFCON? Let me know below.
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