The football league in England is the most watched in the world, and a legacy has been created over the many years it has been running. One of the prominent clubs from England is Arsenal Football Club, and the club has a rich history, including a wide pool of fans across the whole world.
Last week, the long-serving coach of the club, Arsene Wenger, announced that he would be leaving the club at the end of the season. It came on the backdrop of a not-so-rosy season and for long, there were always mixed feelings over his stay at the club. The man has managed the club for 22 years, and in those came glory and disappointment.
Arsenal Football Club is best known for its Invincibles team, as they went on the whole season unbeaten to win the league. As Wenger will be leaving the club, it is important to note that in all his successes at the London club, he had a fondness for African players. Below is a list of some of the African players that were bought by Arsene Wenger to play for Arsenal:
1. Nwankwo Kanu
Kanu was signed for approximately £4.15 million by Arsenal in February 1999 from Inter Milan. He had an illustrious career at Arsenal. The Nigerian played 197 games for Arsenal, scoring 44 goals. In the summer of 2004, after his contract with Arsenal ended, he moved to West Bromwich Albion on a free transfer. In 2008, Kanu was voted 13th in the "Gunners' Greatest 50 Players" poll. All in all, Kanu has won a UEFA Champions League medal, a UEFA Cup medal, three FA Cup Winners Medals and two African Player of the Year, a Premier League medal, among others.
Laureano Bisan Etamé-Maye, commonly known as Lauen, was a Cameroonian who played for Arsenal from 2000 to 2007. He was bought for a fee of £7.2 million and provided cover for both midfield and defence. Lauren was part of the Invincibles, the team that was undefeated throughout the 2003-4 season. At Arsenal he achieved two Premier League medals, three FA Cup medals and one Community Shield. His controversy came when he verbally abused Ruud van Nistelrooy after the latter had missed a penalty late on in the match between the two sides at Old Trafford.
3. Kolo Toure
The Ivorian defender played for Arsenal from 2002 to 2009. He was part of the Invincibles team. Toure joined Arsenal from ASEC Mimosas on a long-term contract for a fee of £150,000 on 14 February 2002 after a short trial. He quickly established himself as one of the best centre backs in the Premier League and thus he was a permanent fixture in Arsenal's starting XI. He helped Arsenal reach the final of the UEFA Champions League in 2006, and he has one Premier League medal, two FA Cup medals and two for the Community Shield.
4. Emmanuel Eboue
Emmanuel Eboue is an Ivorian former footballer who played for Arsenal as a right back. He played during the UEFA Champions League final in 2006. When he came to Arsenal during the 2004-5 season, it was hard for him to break through to become a first team regular, but his breakthrough came in the 2005-6 season . His honours at Arsenal is being runners-up in the 2006 UEFA Champions League final.
5. Emmanuel Adebayor
He is probably one of the most prolific forwards to come from Africa and play in the Premier League. The Togolese had a fine run during his years at Arsenal, having joined the club in January 2006 for a fee of £3 million. He was nicknamed "Baby Kanu" due to his resemblance to Nwankwo Kanu. Adebayor always provided important goals for Arsenal in league matches, cup matches and in derbies. He is Togo's all-time top goalscorer with 31 goals.
6. Alex Song
The Cameroonian impressed Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger as a trialist during Arsenal's pre-season training camp in Austria, and Arsenal secured his services on loan for the 2005–06 season on 11 August 2005. He played in several UEFA Champions League matches and made several Premier League starts near the end of the season, when first team players were injured or being rested.
7. Marouane Chamakh
Marouane Chamakh was born and raised in France but he chose to represent Morocco at the international stage due to his Moroccan parents. After a successful spell with French club Bordeaux, he joined Arsenal in May 2010 on a free transfer after agreeing a four-year contract with the club. Whilst with the Gunners, he helped take the club to the League Cup final of 2011. During his stay at the Emirates, Chamakh also became the first player in UEFA Champions League history to score in six consecutive games.
Gervais Lombe Yao Kouassi, better known as Gervinho, joined Arsenal in 2011 after completing a transfer from Lille for a fee believed to be around £10.8 million. He was sold to Italian club AS Roma in 2013 for €8 million.
9. Mohamed Elneny
The Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Elneny was brought to Arsenal by Wenger in January 2016. He was signed from Swiss club Basel for an undisclosed fee reported to be somewhere between £5 million and £7.4 million. Elneny scored his first Arsenal goal in the Champions League Round of 16 second leg defeat against FC Barcelona, and was later awarded Arsenal's Player of the Month award for March. He also starred in April combining well with Aaron Ramsey, winning the Arsenal's Player of the Month award for a second month. He renewed his contract with Arsenal on 26 March 2018.
10. Alex Iwobi
Alexander Chuka Iwobi better known as Alex Iwobi is Nigerian forward who currently plays for Arsenal. He is the nephew of former professional footballer Jay-Jay Okocha. Iwobi has known Arsenal since he was a child, having joined the club while still at primary school. Wenger gave Iwobi a first-team debut for the club on 27 October 2015, starting in a 3–0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday in the Round of 16 of the League Cup. Ever since, he has been an important member of the team. When Wenger made his resignation announcement, Iwobi took to Twitter to thank the manager for affording him the opportunity to rise through the Arsenal team.
11. Pierre-Emerick Aubemayang
The Gabonese is the latest signing for Arsenal from Africa. His arrival to Arsenal from German club Borussia Dortmund was much anticipated, and Arsene Wenger delivered it for the fans. On 31 January 2018, Aubameyang signed for Premier League club Arsenal for a club record fee of a reported £56 million. His performances since he arrived have been impressive. On 4 February, Aubameyang made his debut for Arsenal against Everton in the Premier League in a 5–1 home victory, scoring the team's fourth goal after latching onto a pass from former Borussia Dortmund teammate Henrikh Mkhitaryan and chipping the ball over a grounded Jordan Pickford. His form for Arsenal has brought relief to the Arsenal fans.