Mikel Obi will battle Swansea striker Wilfried Bony, Sadio Mane of Southampton as well as Alex Song from West Ham for the best African performer in the EPL for the month of December.
Giving details, New African Soccer’s Awards Director and CEO Tunde Adelakun stated that the choice was a difficult one, given the busy schedule of games in the EPL in December.
“We had varying and diverse opinions from our followers, and this is understandable,” he said, “given the many matches that were played in December and the involvement of a high number of Africans”.
“Wilfried Bony has featured in the shortlist on two occasions in the past, as he continued to lead the line for Swansea City. His physical presence, tenacity and knack for goals has brought the attention of many clubs to him, and Swansea might have a job keeping him with the January transfer window looming. Swansea has dropped marginally in the EPL log but Bony’s presence and impact is noticeable,” Adelakun said.
Southampton’s Sadio Mane, 22, has been in good form as he settled down gradually into his role at the southern coast club, and Adelakun was quick to provide justification for his inclusion in the shortlist.
“Mane is young and very skilful, and he brings something different into the Southampton team.
He has taken time to settle, but from the games he played in December, one can see what a real asset he is turning into. Goals against Crystal Palace and Chelsea in succession are just crowns at the top of encouraging performances in the month, and I think Southampton will miss him when he goes for the African Cup”.
One late entrant into the fray is Chelsea’s Mikel Obi.
The Nigeria midfielder did not have an active start to the season as many might have expected, partly due to the excellent partnership in the middle of Chelsea’s park of Fabregas and Matic.
But it was all the more reason why Adelakun felt that he deserved a shout in December.
“Mikel is playing in the midst of gifted individuals at Chelsea and I was one of those who felt his playing time was over at the club at the start, but he battled his way back to the starting eleven, and has been solid and formidable since,” Adelakun said.
Alex Song, Cameroon midfield maestro, makes up the fourth name on the shortlist. He is a versatile player who, according to Adelakun, “held things together in the midfield for West Ham until the latter stages of December when they faced different class of opposition.
“Song has settled in well, and he is an asset for West Ham. He suits Allardyce’s style of play and he is pivotal to where West Ham will finish at the end of the season.
The winner of the December award will be announced at the weekend.