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Most valuable XI at Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON)

Premier League stars at AFCON are among the most valuable players of the tournament.
Premier League stars at AFCON are among the most valuable players of the tournament.
Sulayman Salahudeen
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The 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) is set to commence on Sunday in Cameroon. The best teams and players in African football are set to slug it out over the next month to determine who emerges as African champions for 2021.

Europe-based stars are set to light up AFCON

There was the initial drama of clubs not wanting to release players for the tournament due to COVID-19 and fear of injuries. However, many of Europe's elite players have now joined up with their teammates in Cameroon.

As opposed to the ill-advised claims (cue Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp) of AFCON being a small tournament, it isn't. AFCON will have some of the world’s biggest stars on show in what will be a major tournament ahead of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Only a few years ago, three African forwards shared the Premier League's Golden boot award for most goals scored, and all three are in Cameroon.

Without further ado, here is the most valuable XI of players who are in Cameroon for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) based on their valuation by Transfermarkt.


Goalkeeper- Edouard Mendy (€32 Million)

Chelsea FC v Villarreal CF – UEFA Super Cup 2021
Chelsea FC v Villarreal CF – UEFA Super Cup 2021

Senegal's Edouard Mendy is the most valuable of the goalkeepers expected to line up between the sticks at AFCON. The Chelsea shot-stopper is valued at €32 million, an impressive jump from the €22 million Chelsea signed him for from Rennes in 2021.

Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy will miss Senegal's opening Africa Cup of Nations match against Zimbabwe on Monday after testing positive for coronavirus.

Mendy is the reigning UEFA Goalkeeper of the Year and will be looking to help Senegal win its first major honour.


Right-Back - Achraf Hakimi (€70 Million)

Morocco star Achraf Hakimi is one of those who will look to light up AFCON
Morocco star Achraf Hakimi is one of those who will look to light up AFCON

23-year-old Paris Saint-Germain defender Achraf Hakimi has an absolutely stacked CV for his age. The former Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan man is part of Vahid Halilhodzic's Morocco squad in Cameroon.

🇲🇦 Achraf Hakimi is 𝐑𝐄𝐀𝐃𝐘 for #TotalEnergiesAFCON2021Are you ready? 🦁@EnMaroc | @AchrafHakimi | #TeamMorocco | #AFCON2021 https://t.co/WNzaZLhSPw

Hakimi will be playing in his third major tournament for his country, and they are among the favourites to emerge with the trophy. The fullback is valued at €70 million.


Centre-Back - Kalidou Koulibaly (€45 Million)

Kalidou Koulibaly will be looking to lead Senegal to its first AFCON title
Kalidou Koulibaly will be looking to lead Senegal to its first AFCON title

Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly has been one of the best players out of Africa in recent years. For all of his performances at club level with Napoli, however, the experienced defender has not achieved glory with Senegal.

Kalidou Koulibaly in Serie A this season:◉ 14 games◉ 11 wins◉ 9 clean sheets◉ 2 goals◉ 1 assistSenegal's captain has been in fine form. 💪

Koulibaly will aim to change this unfortunate statistic by having a great tournament along with his fellow Teranga Lions in Cameroon. The Napoli stalwart is valued at €45 million.


Centre-Back - Edmond Tapsoba (€40 Million)

Bayer 04 Leverkusen v VfL Bochum - Bundesliga
Bayer 04 Leverkusen v VfL Bochum - Bundesliga

In Edmond Tapsoba, Burkina Faso have one of the most highly-rated young defenders in this year's AFCON. The Bayer Leverkusen defender is seen by many as the best young defender on the continent.

Wishing Edmond Tapsoba and Odilon Kossounou all the best as the Africa Cup of Nations gets underway today! https://t.co/tdsdrVUk7x

Burkina Faso had a second-place finish in 2013 and a third-place finish in 2017 at AFCON. Their fans may expect Tapsoba and his teammates to finally win the coveted trophy this year. Tapsoba has a market value of €40 million.


Left-Back - Abdou Diallo (€25 Million)

Club Brugge KV v Paris Saint-Germain: Group A - UEFA Champions League
Club Brugge KV v Paris Saint-Germain: Group A - UEFA Champions League

Paris Saint-Germain defender Abdou Diallo is another who has joined up with the Senegal national team in Cameroon for AFCON. The versatile defender will be playing in his first major tournament for the Teranga Lions.

Senegal🇸🇳 are outstanding favorites for the AFCON with players like Mane, Koulibally, Gueye but PSG defender Abdou Diallo believes the reality on the ground will be different#AFCON2021 #CAN2021 #TeamSenegal https://t.co/VeeZgJoJnw

Diallo can play in central defense or as a fullback. He presently has a market value of €25 million.

Defensive Midfield- Wilfred Ndidi (€60 Million)

Leicester City ace Wilfred Ndidi is a regular for Nigeria's Super Eagles
Leicester City ace Wilfred Ndidi is a regular for Nigeria's Super Eagles

With Watford's Peter Etebo ruled out of AFCON, Nigeria will have only Wilfred Ndidi as their midfielder with an international tournament under his belt. He has made 43 appearances for the Super Eagles since making his debut in 2015.

The Leicester City midfielder is more than capable of producing goods for his country, having done so in the Premier League. Ndidi is one of the continent's best defensive midfielders, and has distinguished himself as a top quality player in Europe.

Wilfried Ndidi averages more interceptions per 90 minutes (2.38) in the Premier League than any other midfielder (min. 360 minutes played).(@Squawka)

He played for the Super Eagles in the 2018 FIFA World Cup and 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), where his side won bronze. The Leicester City man is the most valuable African midfielder, and currently has a market value of €60 million. Nigeria last won the AFCON trophy in 2013, and Ndidi will be looking to help his side reach those heights once again.


Central Midfield- Thomas Partey (€40 Million)

Thomas Partey in action for Ghana in a friendly match against Japan
Thomas Partey in action for Ghana in a friendly match against Japan

Arsenal midfielder Thomas Partey is another elite midfielder to have come out of Africa. He is part of the Ghana squad in Cameroon preparing for their first AFCON match against the Atlas Lions of Morocco.

The former Atletico Madrid man joined Arsenal in the summer of 2020 for around €50 million, and has become a key man in the Gunners midfield. The 28-year-old tenacious midfielder is a regular for the Black Stars of Ghana, having already made 34 senior appearances since his debut in 2016.

Thomas Partey among Arsenal players this season:◉ Highest take-on success rate (77%) (min. 10)◉ Most possessions won (93)◉ Most tackles won (16)Dominant. 💪

Ghana have not won the AFCON or any other major tournament since 1982. The Black Stars were knocked out of the 2019 edition of AFCON in the Round of 16 by Tunisia. Partey will be hoping to propel his side further this time. He is presently valued at €40 million.


Central Midfield- Franck Kessie (€48 Million)

Franck Kessie is part of the Cote d'Ivoire squad at AFCON
Franck Kessie is part of the Cote d'Ivoire squad at AFCON

AC Milan midfield enforcer Franck Kessie is a member of the Ivory Coast squad in Cameroon. The midfielder has been a regular for the Elephants since he was 19, and has made 52 appearances for his country.

Kessie has featured consistently for AC Milan in Serie A and the UEFA Champions League this season. He will be looking to take his good form to Cameroon. Kessie will lead a very talented Ivory Coast side in Cameroon.

Franck Kessie has scored five goals from just six shots on target in Serie A this season.Can he be a Ivory Coast's goalscoring hero during AFCON?

The midfielder represented Ivory Coast in both the 2017 and 2019 editions of AFCON. He was also part of the Ivory Coast squad at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as they lost in the quarterfinals to eventual finalists Spain. Kessie is valued at €48 million presently.

Right-wing Forward- Mohamed Salah (€100 Million)

Mohamed Salah is one of the stars expected to light up this year's AFCON
Mohamed Salah is one of the stars expected to light up this year's AFCON

Seven-time AFCON winners Egypt have Mohamed Salah in their squad in Cameroon as they prepare for their opening match against Nigeria on Tuesday. The Liverpool forward is arguably the best attacker in world football at present, and he has the numbers to back up his claim.

The 29-year-old has 23 goals and nine assists in only 26 appearances for Liverpool this season. Salah has played 73 times for his country since making his debut in 2011, but has never won an international trophy with the team.

Despite Egypt's dominance of AFCON in the early 2000s, the Pharaohs have dropped off in recent years and have not won the competition since 2010. Salah and his team-mates reached the AFCON final in 2017 before losing to a late wonder-goal by Cameroon's Vincent Aboubakar.

.@MoSalah has been named one of the final three contenders for the 2021 Best FIFA Men’s Player award 🙌 #TheBest

The forward will be looking to lead his country to win this edition of AFCON with inspiring performances in Cameroon. Salah is one of the most valuable players in the world at the moment, and is currently valued at €100 million.


Left-wing Forward- Sadio Mane (€80 Million)

Senegal v Mali: African Cup of Nations (AFCON) Pre-tournament friendly match
Senegal v Mali: African Cup of Nations (AFCON) Pre-tournament friendly match

Senegal have a talisman in Cameroon in Liverpool forward Sadio Mane. The 29-year-old has been in fine form for Liverpool this season with 10 goals and an assist in 26 appearances. Mane and Salah complement each other very well at club level, but at international level, the winger is a key player for Senegal.

Mane has made 80 appearances for the Teranga Lions and has played in four major tournaments for Senegal. Now a talisman for the team, head coach Aliou Cisse will be looking to Mane to lead the team by example in Cameroon. The winger will look forward to deliver quality performances on his own.

Sadio Mane was given a big welcome after linking up with the Senegalese national team ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations! 🇸🇳 https://t.co/Rtz0bxlQSl

Senegal's golden generation is quickly running out of time to win something, and this time they look good to go all the way. The forward is currently valued at €80 million.


Centre-Forward- Youssef En-Nesyri (€40 Million)

Spain v Morocco: Group B - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
Spain v Morocco: Group B - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

Sevilla striker Youssef En-Nesyri picked up an injury playing for Sevilla earlier this season. It was then speculated the 24-year-old would not be at AFCON. The striker, however, has recovered sufficiently enough to make the Morocco squad for the competition.

En-Nesyri has featured for Sevilla since his return from injury. He is a regular for the Atlas Lions and has played 40 times for them since his debut in 2016. He featured in the 2017 and 2019 AFCON, as well as in the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Ennesyri doing individual work, seems he’s a doubt for Ghana #AFCON2021 https://t.co/RoAQIAkLhr

En-Nesyri is one of the top Moroccan talents in Europe, and is one to watch out for at AFCON. The striker is currently valued at €40 million.

Edited by Aditya Singh
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