Madrid — After another riveting LaLiga Santander season, the league’s African footballers will take centre stage as LaLiga calls on fans to select the winner of the first African MVP Award.
LaLiga launched the award in January when fans voted for Sevilla’s talismanic Moroccan goalkeeper, Yassine ‘Bono’ Bounou, as the LaLiga Mid-Season African MVP in a campaign that reached 690 million people.
Now, as the season draws to a close, it’s time to see if fans will reward Bounou for his consistency, or whether another African player might sneak in and wrestle the landmark first African MVP Award from ‘Bono’ at the end of the season.
This newly established award acknowledges the increasing importance and value of the contribution of African players to the growth of LaLiga, with more than 25 African players currently featuring in the Spanish top flight.
Fans participating in the voting for the African MVP Award competition will stand a chance to win a trip to Spain to watch a LaLiga Santander match live.
Public voting for the LaLiga African MVP Award goes live on 10 May 2022 on LaLiga’s social media platforms, when it will be launched by former Nigerian LaLiga star Mutiu Adepoju.
The competition will close on the last day of the LaLiga Santander season on 22 May 2022, with fans who participate in the vote also standing a chance to win official LaLiga match jerseys and merchandise in competitions with participating local media.
“We were blown away by the response from African football fans to the launch of the African MVP Award competition this season. African audiences have grown in their viewership and support of LaLiga over the years, buoyed by the performances of some of the continent’s fantastic footballers in the league. This competition is a fitting tribute to the growth and stature of the African market to LaLiga and we encourage fans to participate in their numbers to vote for their standout African LaLiga Santander star this season,” says Marcos Pelegrin, LaLiga Southern African Managing Director.
Algerian-born French international, Karim Benzema, was of course LaLiga’s standout player this season, but the African MVP Award will only be open to players who are currently eligible to play for their African national teams.
Gabon star Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has lit up the second half of the LaLiga season after his loan signing for Barcelona in January from Arsenal, breaking a club record in beating the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez to 10 goals for Barca in just his first 14 appearances for the club. In his 19 appearances for Barca Aubameyang scored 11 goals and provided an assist to help lead coach Xavi’s rebuild of Barca.
Bounou has remained a steady influence as Sevilla have surged into the UEFA Champions League places, conceding just 31 goals in his 38 games for Sevilla this season, including an unusual stat for a goalkeeper of laying on two goal assists this season with his long range passing.
Other Moroccan stars to feature prominently for Sevilla this season are Munir El Haddad and Youssef En-Nesyri, who in his debut season in LaLiga last season scored back-to-back LaLiga hat-tricks.
Another Moroccan African star who made an early impact in Xavi’s Barcelona tenure in LaLiga this season was rising star, Abde Ezzalzouli.
Nigerian international Samuel Chukwueze has been another popular African player in LaLiga this season, coming back from injury to help Villareal to a memorable UEFA Champions League semi-final run. Chukwueze has scored seven important goals in all competitions for Villareal this season and was joined at the club this season by Senegalese attacker Boulaye Dia.
Atletico Madrid’s Central African Republic midfielder, Geoffrey Kondogbia, has been an influential figure for Diego Simeone this season and solidified his reputation as a solid defensive midfielder, while also this season scoring his first LaLiga goal for the club.