There are plenty of bonafide superstars who will appear in the Africa Cup of Nations, with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Edouard Mendy just three of many big names on their way to Cameroon to spread their stuff.
In addition to the battle for continental supremacy, AFCON provides players with the platform needed to reach these heights and there are a number of stars waiting ready to explode on the global stage.
Here are some of the best ones to keep an eye on.
Moriba has been fighting for minutes in Leipzig / BSR Agency / GettyImages
There were high hopes for young midfielder Llaix Moriba after his £ 14m move from Barcelona to RB Leipzig this summer, but the 18-year-old saw only 100 minutes of action in all competitions before joining Guinea.
He’s going to be desperate for a chance to ruin his stuff, and trust us, Ilaix has stuff.
A young, powerful midfielder, he boasts of deceptive agility and has received comparisons with Manchester United’s Paul Pogba as a result. With a chip on his shoulder, Ilaix can easily become one of the tournament’s players.
Bayo creates waves in Ligue 1 / JEFF PACHOUD / GettyImages
A teammate to Ilaix with Guinea, the 23-year-old striker Mohamed Bayo seems to be meant for big things.
The tall killer plays his club football in Ligue 1 with Clermont Foot, for which he scored nine goals in 17 games during the first half of the campaign.
With excellent connecting play and a powerful 6’2 frame, Bayo has attracted a lot of attention from the Premier League this year and can play himself on a radar or two here.
Sarr is now on Tottenham’s books / Eurasia Sport Images / GettyImages
This may be the first chance for many fans to see Tottenham star Pape Sarr, who joined for £ 14.5m in the summer before returning to Metz on loan.
What makes Sarr so exciting is that he has not yet calculated his best position. Both Metz and Senegal, a defensive midfielder by nature, have used him in more advanced positions in an attempt to take advantage of his impressive ball skills.
The hopes are incredibly high for Sarr, and if you have not seen him before, this is your chance to give him a watch.
Sulemana is an exciting exterior / Soccrates Images / GettyImages
There are not many players in world football who are as naturally exciting as Kamaldeen Sulemana. The young Ghanaian exterior just oozes with flair.
Sulemana boasts a devastating combination of speed and tricks – not surprisingly for a player who sought to emulate Ronaldinho as a child – and his footwork is a sight to behold.
The Rennes midfielder will have you out of your place 24/7, and there are hopes he could be the difference for Ghana this month.
Kudus impresses with Ajax / Soccrates Images / GettyImages
A central midfielder with many years of experience as a striker, Mohammed Kudus is the definition of do-it-all.
In Ajax, he has been used mainly in midfield and even in a deeper role, where he has the task of blasting forward or using his built-up game to create chances, but with Ghana he is usually deployed in attack.
He is outstanding under pressure and almost impossible to stop when he starts – two qualities that are as important as ever nowadays.
Tapsoba can be set to a huge transfer / Frederic Scheidemann / GettyImages
Young midfielders are on top these days, but somehow Edmond Tapsoba’s name is not a regular in the rumor mill.
The Bayer Leverkusen defender is an absolute monster physically but is technically impressive with his progressive passes, having slipped on the left side of his team’s defense for a couple of years now.
Not until February 23 does Tapsoba’s future look bright and it would not be a surprise to see him linked to your favorite club soon enough.
Koffi is now in Charleroi / BSR Agency / GettyImages
In the debate about AFCON’s best goalkeeper is Herve Koffi, who is enjoying a birth story with Charleroi after some tough years with Lille.
Koffi went to France in 2017 but did not have it all on his own, and after four years and a handful of loans, he was shipped to Charleroi permanently in the summer.
That move was perfect for Koffi, who has taken his game to a new level in Belgium and can earn a new move if he has a few decent weeks with Burkina Faso.
Mejbri will soon be part of Man Utd’s first team / James Williamson – AMA / GettyImages
Ralf Rangnick plans to bring young Hannibal Mejbri to Man Utd’s first team when he returns from this tournament, so here’s your choice to find out why.
The 18-year-old attacking midfielder has made a mockery of youth football, where opponents usually try to kick holes in him to try to slow him down.
Hannibal has long been seen as a potential future superstar, and the feeling is that his journey towards living up to that potential only increases one gear.
Haidara is a wanted man / Alexander Hassenstein / GettyImages
To stick with United, there are suggestions that Amadou Haidara could play with Hannibal at Old Trafford next season.
A firm favorite with Rangnick in RB Leipzig, Haidara has more experience than most 23-year-olds and has impressed as a ball-winning midfielder with a keen eye for goals.
Haidara loves to pick up the ball and run from the depths, and there will be many scouts who see him do this.
Aribo is listed on Rangers / Eurasia Sport Images / GettyImages
The promise that Joe Aribo showed in Charlton has developed to real ability at Rangers, where the high midfielder has emerged as a genuine goal threat from deep.
Nigeria have tended to use Aribo as a central midfielder but have not withdrawn from playing him later, so he can focus purely on goals instead of all the dirty work that comes in the deeper role.
He has attracted a lot of interest from the English top class, with former boss Steven Gerrards moving to Aston Villa which only reinforces these rumors.
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