Welcome to CPL50, a series where we’ll reveal the top 50 players from the 2021 Canadian Premier League regular season, as voted on by a panel of coaches from all eight teams and media from OneSoccer and CanPL.ca. For more information on the voting process and method, click here.
The eighth Forge FC player to get the nod to CPL50 is Senegalese midfielder Elimane Cissé. Another member of Forge's international contingent to stick around for all three seasons, Cissé is perhaps the most versatile player in the entire CPL. A positional Swiss Army Knife, the 26-year-old can slot in pretty much anywhere on the pitch -- and he has done for Forge, in most spots. He's one of the league's most talented central midfielders, but spent a lot of time as a right-back in 2021. At the Island Games in 2020, he took on an attacking role on a few occasions; coach Bobby Smyrniotis has joked that Cissé will be donning the gloves to play in goal next. Cissé played 28 CPL matches this year, and his 2,218 minutes in league play were tops on Forge for this season. He also led his team in recoveries (164), duels won (160), and tackles won (56), in a season where he was easily one of the most consistent and dependable players in the league. He's one of the best midfield passers of the ball out there, and his workrate when out of possession is second to none -- which allows him to fit into any position so comfortably. In 2021, he found himself in the Gatorade Team of the Week five times. He scored one goal this year and had two assists, though his greatest contributions often came much further back on the pitch as he helped stabilize the team and help the very beginning of their attacking buildup play. His intelligence in the middle makes him perhaps the most vital cog in Forge's press, considering his ability to get into the right spaces to cut off opposing attacks and force them backward. Cissé signed for Forge in winter 2019, his first professional foray outside of his native Senegal. Prior to that, he played for several years with Diambars FC in Saly, not far from his hometown of Dakar. He has represented the Senegalese senior national team five times since 2016.
The rest of the CPL50 countdown is available here. Five more players will be revealed per day until December 22.