The name Maxime Spano might mean very little to Manchester City fans, but for the Valenciennes centre-back, there’s a lot of admiration from his end.
Perhaps not for the club as a whole, but for one of their players, Riyad Mahrez.
Despite being used sporadically by Pep Guardiola at the Etihad due to the large amount of world class players at the Spaniard’s disposal, the Algeria international remains a hero in his home country after helping them win the Africa Cup of Nations in 2019.
Beating Sadio Mané’s Senegal in the final 1-0, Mahrez and co. lifted the trophy for the second time in their history and for the first time since 1990, which is exactly why Spano feels the Manchester City man is a shoo-in for one of the more prestigious trophies in football on his home continent: the African Footballer of the Year award (or African Ballon d’Or).
He told Le Buteur: “I followed the AFCON, and believe me, Riyad was an exemplary captain. He assumed his responsibilities well to propel Algeria into the final. He’s an exceptional player. He managed to step up when we needed his talent in the competition.
“His nomination for the Ballon d’Or is deserved, and him winning shouldn’t be met with much protest, looking at everything he’s done for Manchester City and especially his home nation”.
As for Spano in all this, the French-born defender will be hoping to join Mahrez in the Algeria national team in the near future after he was told he was preselected by their national team manager, Djamel Belmadi, for the next international break.