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African footballers making waves in English premiership football

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African footballers have been making waves in the English premiership football for decades, ever since Peter Ndlovu became the first African player to feature in the league in 1992. Since then, many stars from the continent have graced the English top flight with their skills, flair and passion, winning trophies, scoring goals and breaking records along the way.

Some of the most notable names include Didier Drogba, who scored 104 goals for Chelsea and helped them win their first Champions League title in 2012 , Mohamed Salah, who has been a prolific scorer for Liverpool and won the Golden Boot twice, and Yaya Toure, who was a dominant midfielder for Manchester City and won three league titles.

Other African players who have impressed in the Premier League include Riyad Mahrez, who was instrumental in Leicester City’s fairy-tale title win in 2016 and has continued to shine for Manchester City , Emmanuel Adebayor, who scored 97 goals for four different clubs, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has been Arsenal’s main source of goals since joining them in 2018.

The current season of 2023-24 also features many African players who are worth watching out for, such as Brentford winger Bryan Mbeumo from Cameroon, West Ham midfielder Mohammed Kudus from Ghana, Nottingham Forest forward Taiwo Awoniyi from Nigeria, Tottenham midfielder Pape Matar Sarr from Senegal , and Manchester United midfielder Hannibal Mejbri from Tunisia.

African footballers have brought a lot of excitement, diversity and quality to the English premiership football, and they will surely continue to do so in the future.

New African players to watch out for in Premier League 2023-24

Andre Onana (Cameroon & Manchester United)
International caps: 34
Fee: $60.25m (£47.2m)
Contract length: Five years
Uefa Champions League finalist Onana completed his much-anticipated transfer from Inter Milan to Manchester United in July and has already earned the praise of manager Erik ten Hag following his pre-season debut in Houston.

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The 27-year-old will replace the long-serving David de Gea as United’s first-choice keeper and is already acquainted with Ten Hag, having played for him at Ajax.

“To join Manchester United is an incredible honour,” he said. “This is the start of a new journey for me, with new team-mates and new ambitions to fight for.

“Manchester United has a long history of incredible goalkeepers and I will now give everything to create my own legacy in the coming years.”

Nicolas Jackson (Senegal & Chelsea)
International caps: 3
Fee: Undisclosed, reportedly $41m (£32m)
Contract length: Eight years
Nicolas Jackson playing football for Chelsea against Brighton
Nicolas Jackson was named La Liga player of the month in May
Born in The Gambia, Jackson almost joined Bournemouth for $26m (£20.3m) in January but the deal with Villarreal was not completed due to concerns over a hamstring injury.

He went on to directly contribute to 12 goals in April and May as part of a farewell purple patch at the Spanish club which led to his move to London in June.

The 22-year-old, nicknamed the “Senegalese Neymar”, has impressed Blues boss Mauricio Pochettino in pre-season – but has been warned he needs to improve his physical condition and adapt to a higher tempo in England.

Ola Aina (Nigeria & Nottingham Forest)
International caps: 23
Fee: Free
Contract length: One year
Ola Aina in action for Torino
Nottingham Forest is Ola Aina’s third Premier League side, having already represented Chelsea and Fulham
London-born Aina spent eight years as part of Chelsea’s academy from 2007, making his Premier League debut in 2016, but a lack of first-team opportunities meant he was loaned out to Hull City and then Torino, becoming a regular for the Italian club after joining them permanently in 2019.

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Now 26, he made his Premier League return during a loan spell with Fulham in 2020-21 and joined Forest in July following his release by Torino.

“It’s exciting to be back playing in the Premier League. It’s the best league in the world and I always want to challenge myself,” said Aina, who operates predominantly as a full-back or wing-back.

Benie Traore (Ivory Coast and Sheffield United)
International caps: 0
Fee: Undisclosed
Contract length: Four years
Sheffield United and Ivory Coast player Benie Traore holding a football
Sheffield United newcomer Benie Traore made his Ivory Coast Under-23 debut in March
Leading scorer in Sweden’s top flight last season, 20-year-old Traore signed a new contract with Hacken in September but then joined Sheffield United in July.

So rapid has his rise been, Traore is yet to make his full international debut and has only one cap for Ivory Coast Under-23s.

Marvelous Nakamba (Zimbabwe & Luton Town)
International caps: 23
Fee: Undisclosed
Contract length: Three years

Marvelous Nakamba celebrates after Luton’s win the Championship play-off final
Marvelous Nakamba was part of the Luton Town side that gained promotion to the Premier League after winning the Championship play-off final at Wembley
Nakamba, 29, is not new to the Premier League, having signed for Aston Villa from Club Brugge in 2019, making 58 top-flight appearances for the Villains.

But after initially impressing he suffered a knee injury in December 2021 that disrupted his progress.

The former Vitesse Arnhem and Nancy defensive midfielder was loaned to Luton at the start of 2023, securing promotion by winning the Championship play-offs, in which he scored in the penalty shootout win over Coventry City in the final at Wembley Stadium.

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“I’m very excited to be back home at Luton to continue the journey,” said Nakamba after joining the Hatters on a permanent basis in July.

Nakamba made his senior debut for Zimbabwe in 2015.

Issa Kabore (Burkina Faso & Luton Town)
International caps: 29
Fee: Loan (from Manchester City)
Contract length: One year
Issa Kabore playing football

Issa Kabore signed for Manchester City in 2020 but is yet to make a first-team appearance for the reigning champions
Kabore, 22, had high hopes of making his Premier League debut when he signed for Manchester City from KV Mechelen in 2020, but the talented prospect was loaned back to the Belgian club and also had spells in France with Troyes and Marseille before joining Luton on a season-long deal in July.

Kabore, who has played at centre-back and full-back, made his debut for Burkina Faso as a teenager in 2019 and was named best young player at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, playing a key role in the Stallions’ run to the semi-finals.

 

 


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