Africa has a long history of producing some incredible football players. Some of the beautiful game’s best-known talent grew up in Africa before becoming global superstars.
Samuel Eto’o, George Weah, Yaya Toure, Jay-Jay Okocha, and Didier Drogba are African footballing legends who made it big in the English Premier League. All five of those players have now retired, but African continues to produce some of the world’s elite players. Here are five of the very best African footballers.
- Senegal’s Sadio Mane
Twisted Blood" by the_junes is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0
Sadio Mane is one of the best footballers in the world, not just one of the best African stars. The 28-year-old started his career with French outfit Metz before moving to Red Bull Salzburg in Austria. English Premier League outfit Southampton bought Mane for £11.8 million during the 2013-14 season. He went on to score 21 goals in 67 appearances for The Saints.
Liverpool secured Mane’s services in 2016 for £34 million and he’s gone from strength-to-strength. Mane is always one of the favourites with the best betting sites to be the Premier League’s top scorer, something the Senegal international achieved in the 2018-19 season.
- Egypt’s Mohamed Salah
Mohamed “Mo” Salah was always see as having bags of potential but he only started realising that potential in 2015.
Chelsea bought Salah in 2014 but he only made 13 appearances, scoring three goals. Salah went on loan to Italian outfits Fiorentina and AS Roma before making a permanent move to the Italian capital.
He was a revelation in Italy, scoring 35 goals in 81 games, prompting Liverpool to pay £36.9 million for him in 2017. He’s since gone on to score 81 goals in 116 games and helped Liverpool win the 2019-20 Premier League title.
- Gabon’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
"Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (BVB)" by dirkvorderstrasse is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang became the first Gabonese player to be crowned the African Footballer of the Year when his stand-out performances for Gabon at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations lit up the world.
Aubameyang started his career at AC Milan but never made his debut. Loans to trio of French clubs didn’t really work out, but Saint-Etienne took a chance on Aubameyang and he repaid that faith in him by scoring 35 goals in 73 games.
His form caught the eye of German Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund. It’s here he made a name for himself. He played 144 games during his five-year spell with Dortmund and found the back of the net 56-times. Premier League side Arsenal bought Aubameyang for £56 million in 2018 and he’s since scored 56 goals in 93 games plus become the club’s captain.
- Senegal’s Kalidou Koulibaly
African players are best known for the flair and skills on the ball rather than their defending. That’s not the case with Kalidou Koulibaly who is one of the world’s best central defenders.
Like many African players, Koulibaly started his career in France and he even represented the French international team at under-20 level before pledging his allegiance to Senegal.
Koulibaly has been at Napoli since 2014 and is regarded as one of Serie A’s best defenders. He’s made 186 appearances for the Italian club but is continually being linked with a move away from the San Paolo Stadium, although a transfer still hasn’t happened.
A £63 million transfer to Liverpool looks like it could happen in January with the reigning Premier League champions being without talisman Virgil van Dyke for the season and Cameroon international Joel Matip struggling with injuries himself.
- Algeria’s Riyad Mahrez
Nobody outside African knew who Riyad Mahrez was when Leicester City bought him for £450,000 from France’s Le Havre. Mahrez is now a global superstar and Leicester fans hold Mahrez dear in their hearts despite the fact he now plays for Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Mahrez did the unthinkable and helped Leicester win the 2015-16 Premier League title. His amazing dribbling skills and 42 goals in 158 appearances saw Man City pay £60 million for Mahrez, making him the most-expensive African footballer.