Former Manchester City star Yaya Toure has compiled his top five African players of all time, modestly leaving himself off the list and only including iconic Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah in third.
The continent has enjoyed perhaps the most rapid rise of all footballing corners of the globe over the last 30 years, with Morocco underlining that progress by reaching the World Cup semi-finals last year despite not even being considered as Africa’s top nation going into the tournament.
And with the African Cup of Nations due to get underway on Saturday evening – beginning with a clash between host nation Ivory Coast and Guinea-Bissau – all eyes will be on the tournament to see if anyone can de-throne the last winners, Senegal.
With African football on the rise, legendary former Man City star Toure has been asked to pick his top five African players of all time.
And while the brilliant former Barcelona midfielder did not want to rate himself, he did manage to pick out Liverpool’s all-time third highest goalscorer Salah in third on his list.
Much is being written about the future of the iconic Egyptian star, whose current deal expires in summer 2025 and has been the subject of high-profile interest from Saudi Arabia.
But with the player’s agent indicating his client has no desire to leave Anfield any time soon, Salah may yet get a few more years to both add to his goals tally and alter his current place on Toure’s list in third.
Other Premier League stars, though do feature on Toure’s list with all the top five being former stars of the English top flight.
Salah at No 3 on list of all-time Africa greats
Revealing his picks, Toure has ranked former Prem striker Didier Drogba and Samuel Eto’o in top spots.
Drogba excelled during a brilliant, trophy-fuelled stint with Chelsea, and while Eto’o played for the Blues and Everton, he is best remembered for his time with Barcelona.
“Mohamed Salah, oh this is difficult, I’ll have him as the number two ranking, Samuel Eto’o at number one…”
Toure then appeared to change his mind and then ranked Drogba as ‘another No 1’ appearing to elevate him back above Salah.
He added: “Drogba, because I played with him, I know his value, he’s another number one, Kanu, I’d put him at number four. Jay-Jay Okocha, because there are five players, he’ll have to go at number five.”
When the dust settles on Salah’s career, he may well go down as the greatest of the lot.
The Egyptian is a huge fitness buff, drawing comparisons with Cristiano Ronaldo – still going strong at the age of 38 (39 next month) – for his healthy lifestyle.
Currently 31, Salah has won the lot with Liverpool, with only the Europa League evading him so far. He does have a chance to put that right, though, this season with the Reds among the favourites to win this year’s final in Dublin – which would effectively be like a home game for the Merseysiders.
Salah will also probably have to triumph in the AFCON too to take top spot in Toure’s list. They were beaten on penalties by Senegal in the 2021 final; their campaign to go one better starts on Sunday against Mozambique.