• Moroccans Abroad: Ziyech and Benatia primed to crack the FC 100 in 2018

    Ed Dove, KweséESPN

    Five African players have been included in the ESPN FC 2017, but which of the continent's star men could be primed to feature in next year's version of the list?

    In this feature, KweséESPN presents five of the continent's emerging stars who we're tipping to crack the 100 in 12 months' time.

    Hakim Ziyech: Is there any African player in the world today who can run a match as easily - and with as much sophistication - as Ziyech?

    He stepped up comfortably to life at Ajax after being signed from FC Twente at the beginning to last term, going on to contribute 11 assists and seven goals as the Amsterdam giants ran Feyenoord close for the title.

    The technical qualities and capacity for invention demonstrated by the Morocco international in the Atlas Lions' 6-0 evisceration of Mali was one of the finest individual displays by an African player in 2017, and he was also outstanding in Ajax's recent 8-0 thumping of NAC Breda.

    When Ziyech controls the contest as he did - notably - in these two fixtures, he can appear to be unplayable, and the 24-year-old has the potential to be Africa's outstanding player at the World Cup.

    Medhi Benatia's stock has fallen in recent seasons following the high of 2014, when he was signed by Bayern Munich from AS Roma.

    Back in Italy last term on loan with Juventus, the Morocco international struggled to get into the team, and didn't always look comfortable when he did feature.

    There was, therefore, some surprise when Juve made the defender's loan deal permanent - for €17 million - this summer, although the centre-back has set about repaying that faith this term.

    He excelled in the Champions League stalemate with Barcelona, and also capped another magnificent performance with a goal as Juventus beat Crotone 3-0 four days later.

    If he can continue in this vein, he could help the Old Lady forget about the departed Leonardo Bonucci, while a strong World Cup showing with Morocco could see him crack the list.

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