5 reasons why Ademola Lookman should win 2024 CAF Player of the Year

5 reasons why Ademola Lookman should win 2024 CAF Player of the Year
Photo by Icon Sport

Following the spectacular performance of Ademola Lookman in this season's final of the Europa League, the race to become the 2024 CAF Player of the Year has taken an interesting turn.

Victor Osimhen is the reigning CAF Footballer of the Year after guiding Napoli to a first Scudetto victory in 33 years back in 2023. However, the Partenopei have been a shadow of themselves this campaign which has ultimately ruled the Super Eagles marksman out of contention for this year's prize.

In this opinion piece, GOALBALL evaluates five top reasons why Ademola Lookman should win the next CAF Player of the Year.

But before that, let's bring you up to speed on the couple of African stars who have done well for themselves in the 2023/24 campaign to stake a claim to the throne of current holder Osimhen.

Reigning CAF Player of the Year Victor Osimhen
CAF President Patrice Motsepe awards player of the year to Victor Osimhen of Nigeria during the 2023 CAF Awards. Photo by Icon Sport

Profiling the players ranking for the 2024 CAF Player of the Year

Ademola Lookman (Nigeria)

Born in Wandsworth, England to parents of Nigerian origin, Lookman has grown his game to a spectacular level since his move to Atalanta.

The season in review has been exceptional for the 26-year-old. After playing a crucial role in Nigeria's run to the Africa Cup of Nations final in the Ivory Coast which ended in a 2-1 defeat, he led Atalanta to the Coppa Italia which they lost to Juventus, a second final loss in four months.

Just when it looked like Lookman would endure another final defeat against a Bayer Leverkusen team unbeaten in the entire season, the winger ran a brilliant show by scoring a sumptuous hat-trick that broke records and handed Atalanta a Europa League final glory.

Lookman helped Gian Piero Gasperini's side to their first European trophy, and only the club's second title in its 116 years of existence.

Ademola Lookman with the Europa League trophy
Ademola Lookman kisses the Europa League. Photo by Icon Sport

Across the season, the Nigerian has popped up for his team in the big games, scoring 14 goals and providing eight assists across all competitions for La Dea to make him the front-runner to land the CAF Player of the Year prize.

Victor Boniface (Nigeria)

In his first season with Bayer Leverkusen, Victor Boniface performed beyond expectations, helping Die Werkself to its first Bundesliga title.

Despite three months on the sidelines, the Super Eagles striker netted 19 goals and contributed 10 assists for his teammates in 32 matches across all competitions to write his name among the top contenders for the 2024 CAF Player of the Year.

Without doubt, had Lookman not taken the spotlight during the Europa League final, Boniface would have been the outright favourite for the prize.

Victor Boniface in action for Bayer Leverkusen
Photo by Icon Sport

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)

Plying his trade in the French Ligue 1, Aubameyang has not gotten the coverage he deserves. However, the former Barcelona ace has been the driving force behind Olympique Marseille this season.

The 34-year-old was instrumental to his team's run to the semifinals of the Europa League, scoring 10 goals–the most in the Europa League this season–and assisting three times.

Across all competitions this season, Aubameyang scored 28 goals and contributed 11 assists, a performance worthy of a mention in this year's CAF awards even though his team had a miserable league campaign.

Brahim Diaz (Algeria)

Brahim Diaz in action for Real Madrid
Credit: Photo by Icon Sport

Real Madrid attacking sensation Brahim Diaz has been one of the most explosive players this season despite not being a constant regular in Carlo Ancelotti's starting lineup.

Having secured La Liga title, the Algerian forward is looking to add the Champions League medal to his collection this season.

With Borussia Dortmund standing in the way to a prestigious double, Diaz's 13 goals and 7 assists in 45 appearances this season makes a strong case to the player's chances of winning the 2024 CAF Player of the Year.

Mohamed Salah (Egypt)

On a personal level, Mo Salah has had a good season. The Liverpool marksman scored 25 goals and 14 assists in 42 games across all competitions for the Anfield side this campaign.

Not many African stars boast of such numbers in the year in review. However, with just the Carabao Cup to show as silverware this season, it remains to be seen if he can really take over the prize from Osimhen.

Mo Salah in action for Liverpool
Credit: Photo by Icon Sport

Five reasons Ademola Lookman should win 2024 CAF Player of the Year

Below are five strong points as to why Ademola Lookman deserves to win the 2024 CAF men's player of the year.

1. Lookman was one of the best performers in the 2023 AFCON tournament

Lookman played a key role for the Nigeria Super Eagles team en route to their second-place finish at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Ivory Coast.

The former Fulham forward scored three times and provided two assists in the AFCON showpiece. He bagged both goals in Nigeria's 2-0 victory over Cameroon in the round of 16, and scored the only goal in a 1-0 win over Angola in the quarter-finals.

His contribution for the Eagles earned him a spot in the tournament's “Best XI Team”, securing him another edge over his rivals in the race to who becomes the next CAF Player of the Year.

2. First African to score a hattrick in a major European final

In a clash which much of the focus was centered around a record-breaking Bayer Leverkusen side prior to kick-off, Lookman showcased his technical brilliance and determination not to lose a third final in 2024, taking it upon himself to deliver the goods for Atalanta.

The 26-year-old single-handedly won the Europa League for La Dea after scoring an excellent hattrick to etch his name in the club's folklore. Lookman’s three-goal haul made history as the first African to net three times in the final of a UEFA club competition.

The 2023 AFCON silver medallist also became the first player to ever score a hat-trick in the finals of the Europa League and the first Nigeria to score more than once in the finals of the competition.

With the records all stacked up for the Nigerian, the rallying call for him to win the next CAF Player of the year award looks to be the right one.

3. Lookman won the Europa League with Atalanta

Atalanta celebrate Europa League trophy
Credit: Photo by Icon Sport

Under Gian Piero Gasperini, La Dea have remained competitive, playing one of Serie A's best attacking football in consistent seasons which in the 2023/24 season has yielded tangible results.

The Italian gaffer proved to be a master tactician despite losing some of his best players, the 66-year-old made smart recruitment and trusted Lookman in his forward ranks which he has proved him right.

The Super Eagles winger was at the heart of the team's brilliant run to the finals of the Europa League with his 11 appearances, two goals and one assist before scoring all three goals in the finals to take his tally to five, ensuring that Atalanta won their first title in Europe, and their second in 63 years.

There is no doubt about the contributions of Lookman this season for the Bergamo side, scoring 14 goals and providing eight assists, a performance which will be spoken of in many years to come by the La Dea faithfuls.

Beyond any reasonable doubt, Lookman has done enough to propel himself to the pinnacle of the CAF Player of the Year contenders.

4. First African player to win a Europa League final Man of the Match award

Lookman’s three-goal haul for Atalanta which ultimately ended a 51-game unbeaten run of Bayer Leverkusen in the Europa League final, was a performance deserving of a man of the match award winner.

And for the first time in history, an African player achieved this feat in the final of UEFA's second most illustrious club competition with many rating platforms giving the Nigerian a 10/10 match performance rating.

In this opinion piece article, we believe this is another strong point which validates Lookman's chances to snatch the next CAF Player gong.

5. Lookman featured in three finals this season

Out of the players vying for the 2024 CAF Player of the Year award, only Lookman has had the luxury of making three final appearances this campaign.

The Nigerian appeared in the 2023 AFCON final, a competition in which he bagged three goals and two assists.

Lookman played the Coppa Italia final against Juventus which Atalanta lost 1-0. He scored and assisted in the competition.

The Wandsworth-born winger stole the headlines during the 2024 Europa League final against an invincible Bayer Leverkusen side, scoring all three goals as his side won the trophy for the first time in history.

Granted, Lookman will face stiff opposition from compatriot Boniface and the Algerian Brahim Diaz, however, neither of those players featured in the 2023 AFCON, giving the Europa League champion an edge over the chasing pack.

This article was most recently revised and updated 3 weeks ago

Joseph is a freelance writer who spends most of his time writing engaging football contents. Based in Nigeria, Joseph is a die-hard Real Madrid fan with over 8 years experience in the sports betting space. He has covered football match previews, predictions, and news across leagues in Africa and Europe.