In this article, we will take a look at some of the hottest names of African football at the moment and reveal the most valuable African players in 2021.
Maybe there is no world champion among the African football teams, but for several decades, the countries from the continent have generated numerous football stars who have helped their countries to surprise many in the world of football. One only has to think of the Ivorian team of 2006-2014 or Cameroon reaching the quarter-finals in 1990 inItaly
African footballers must not be underestimated. The Egyptians, Nigerians, Moroccans, Tunisians, Senegalese and many others are now in Cameroon on the occasion of the 2021 African Cup of Nations and once again we are going to witness some of the purest football talents in this competition.
There are some very talented players in who are coming from the "Black Continent", such as Egypt's Mohamed Salah, who enjoyed a fantastic season so far, and his Liverpool teammate Senegalese Sadio Mané. Also worth mentioning is Senegal's Kalidou Koulibaly and Morocco's Achraf Hakimi, who are both going to be a real asset for their national team this year in the African Cup of Nations.
On the occasion of this year’s African Cup of Nations, we have decided to take a look at some of the most valuable African players who are not on top of their game and continue to impress many in world football. From the very well know Mohamed Salah to Achraf Hakimi of Morocco, the Algerian Riyad Mahrez and Hakim Ziyech, ladies and gentlemen, the following are the most valuable African football players in 2021.
Currently, there are many African footballers playing in many different football leagues around the world, however, the best and the most valuable of them are obviously playing in Europe. While this year the 2021Africa Cup of Nations
location is Cameroon, there are no players from the host country on our list. Stay tuned as in this article we will take a look at some of these great African football players, some of which we are going to see in a few most interesting African Cup of Nations fixtures 2021.
The star goalkeeper of the Chelsea football club and the Senegalese national team has a market value of 32 million euros and thus is the most valuable goalkeeper in the African continent. Edouard Mendy has been one of the best goalkeepers to shine in theEnglish Premier League
The story of Edouard Mendy is both incredible and very motivating. While he was playing in the third division inFrance
, he was exploring his chances in England. But unfortunately, no team was interested in hiring him. He continued to play in the second division in France as late as the 2017-2018 season.
But in the last season, Chelsea struggled with their goalkeeper. Kepa was not showing good performances in the game. Therefore, they made the decision to offer Mendy a chance out there. This was an excellent move as he was able to help the team win the Champions League.
He saved balls and made sure that Chelsea stayed in the game. He has made a total of 12 clean sheets this season so far while playing for Chelsea. He is young in his success, so he will have to perform well this season to improve his status next season.
While Mendy is right now in Cameroon with the Senegal national team to compete in the 2021 African Cup of Nations, there were reports in the media that Edouard Mendy has got Covid-19 and will therefore not be available to play at the start of the competition. We will have to wait and see if Mendy will be able to play in any of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations matches for his country.
Having a total market value of 35 million euros, the talented attacking midfielder of Chelsea and theMorocco
national who had just missed out on the 2021 African Cup of Nations since the head coach decided not to call him up for the competition, is the next player in our list of most valuable African players of 2021.
He played for his hometown club between 2001 and 2007, before joining Heerenveen's academy. On 2 August 2012, he made his senior debut in a Europa League qualifying match against Romanian side Rapid București. He was handed his debut in the league ten days later againstN.E.C. Nijmegen
, a match they lost 2-0.
Hakim joined Twente in August 2014 and made 76 appearances and scored 34 goals in those matches during his time with Twente. Ziyech signed a 5-year contract with AFC Ajax on 30 August 2016, where he played 112 league matches in which he scored 38 goals.
It was announced in the winter of 2020 that Ziyech would be joining English clubChelsea
in the summer of 2020 for a fee of €40 million with a five-year contract. During the 2020-2021 season, he played in ten Champions League matches, only making the starting line-up three times, and he managed to score two goals. In the winning final, he was on the substitutes' bench.
Ziyech played for the Netherlands under-19, under-20 and under-21 national teams. The Netherlands national football team coach called up Ziyech for a June 2015 friendly match against the United States. However, he did not play in the match. Ziyech then made his debut for Morocco in October 2015 in a friendly againstIvory Coast
. In the 2018 World Cup, he appeared in all three of Morocco's matches and in four matches at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. He has scored 17 goals in his 40 caps for his country.
The next player in our list of most valuable African players in 2021 is the Moroccan Youssef En-Nesyri, who currently is valued at 40 million euros by Transfermarkt. Although during the current season the talented striker has only scored 3 goals in 10 matches forSevilla
and has a lot to achieve what he did last season (24 goals in 52 matches) and had missed out some matches due to an injury, he is undoubtedly one of the best African strikers at the moment.
En-Nesyri was brought up to the Málaga team for the first time on 8 July 2016 for a try out by then head coach Juande Ramos. He played well in the pre-season matches, scoring a total of six goals, and signed a contract until 2020 on 23 August 2016. He then played his first match in the La Liga against Espanyol three days later. In total, he played a total of 41 matches there and scored 5 goals.
After Málaga's relegation from the main league on 17 August 2018, En-Nesyri moved to Leganés where he signed a five-year contract, and during his two-season spell in there, Youssef was able to score 15 goals in 53 matches for the club.
It was announced on 16 January 2020 that Sevilla had completed the acquisition of En-Nesyri for an estimated transfer fee of €20 million signing the player on a five-year contract. So far, during the two and a half seasons of playing for Sevilla, Youssef En-Nesyri has been able to score a total of 33 goals in 87 matches in all competitions.
En-Nesyri made his Morocco national football team debut on 31 August 2016, in a friendly match againstAlbania
. Since then, he has played a total of 40 international matches and scored 11 goals, taking part in different competitions such as the 2017 and 2019 African Cup of Nations and the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The key player of the Ghanaian national football team and one of the best midfielders of Arsenal is the next in our list of most valuable African footballers in 2021 with a market value of 40 million euros. Thomas Partey has had a great career so far, having played for Atletico Madrid and some other La Liga teams before joining the Gunners in 2020. At just 28 years of age, Thomas Partey can lead the Ghanaian national team for many years to come.
He first played for the Ghana national team in 2016, the year he had been able to establish himself in Atletico Madrid. During the six years of service for the national team, Thomas Partey has played a total of 34 matches and scored 12 goals, which is perfect for a defensive midfielder. In the 2021 African Cup of Nations, he will undoubtedly be a real gem for his country.
Ghana and Thomas Partey will play their first match in the 2021 African Cup of Nations on Monday 10th January against Morocco and Achraf Hakimi, which is expected to be of the most exciting matches of the tournament. We have to wait and see if Partey will be able to help his country make it to the knockout stage of the tournament.
With the exception of Youssef En-Nesyri who plays in La Liga, all of the players on our list are currently playing in English Premier League and the next one, the 29 years old Wilfried Zaha comes from Crystal Palace. The Ivorian striker has been ever-present for his club team so far this season and scored a total of 5 goals in 17 Premier League matches. Like the other previous footballers on our list, Wilfried Zaha has also a market value of 40 million euros.
Wilfried Zaha has represented the England national football team in U19 and U21 categories and even played two friendly matches for the senior national team of England between 2012 and 2013, however, after being left out of the English national team he decided to accept the call up of Ivory Coast national team in 2017 and played his debut the same year against Sweden in a friendly match which was played in the United Arab Emirates.
Since then, he has played a total of 21 matches for the Ivory Coast national team and managed to score 5 goals. For the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, however, Zaha was not called up by the national team coach, who claimed that Wilfrid Zaha himself asked not to be included in the national team. However, in an interview, Zaha denied this and said that he was suffering from an illness. He was then recalled to the final list of the players for the 2021 African Cup of Nations and therefore we are going to see him play.
The powerful central defender of the Burkin Faso national team, with a total market value of 40 million euros, is the only representative of his country in our list of most valuable African footballers in 2021. At just 22 years of age, many pundits believe although he is playing top football right now, he still has not reached his full potential yet and in the coming years, we are going to hear more about Edmond Tapsoba.
Edmon started his football back in his country, where he spent three years in two local clubs. However, his career breakthrough came when he came toPortugal
to pursue his professional football career. Over three years, Edmond Tapsoba managed to establish himself in the country, attracting the attention of many bigger European clubs, however, he decided to finally sign for the German football club Bayer Leverkusen in 2020, where he has played a total of 45 league matches since then.
On the international stage, Edmond Tapsoba has represented his country Burkina Faso on 20 occasions since 2016, when he played his first match for the country in a game played against Uzbekistan in a friendly match. Although he played in the qualifiers for the 2017 African Cup of Nations with his country, he was not selected for the tournament and thus the 2021 African Cup of Nations will be his first experience of playing in a major international tournament.
Another winger in our list of top valuable African football players in 2021 is the famous Riyad Mahrez, a true hero in his home country who is currently valued at 40 million euros. Although his highest market value was 60 million euros back in the latter stages of 2019, with a market value of 40 million euros he is still one of the highest valued African footballers of his time.
He became a star when he sensationally played a duo with Jamie Vardy to bring his former clubLeicester City
to the English Premier League title. Since then, the classy Algerian technician has been working for Manchester City on a more or less part-time basis and is struggling unsuccessfully to win the Champions League. On the other hand, he is the current African champion with his home country.
Having started his football in France, he first made a name for himself in the French club Le Havre, before signing for Leicester City in 2014. Having played a total of 179 matches for them in a total of five seasons, and scoring 48 goals in all competitions, Riyad Mahrez signed for the English giants Manchester City and so far has played a total of 167 matches in all competitions, scoring 52 goals.
His record on the international stage is also very good, as the star of theAlgerian national team
has played a total of 70 matches for his country, scoring 26 goals. He played his first match for the country just before the start of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil against the Armenian national team. Since then, he has played in the 2014 World Cup, 2015, 2017 and the 2019 African Cup of Nations, where they finished as champions. A feat that they are hoping to repeat this year in the AFCON.
The experienced Kalidou Koulibaly is currently the most valuable African central defender and another Senegalese star on our list, with a total market value of 45 million euros, which puts him higher than any other African central defender. It should be noted that in the summer of 2019 he had a market value of 75 million euros and thus his market value has declined over the past few years as the experienced Napoli defender is getting older.
He was born and raised in France and therefore had his football started within the country, playing mainly for Metz at the youth level. His senior career also started with the Metz club, where he played for the first time on the senior level for Metz II in 2009, where he managed to play a total of 31 matches for the reserve team of FC Metz, scoring two goals. Later on in his career, Koulibaly went on to play for Metz in Ligue 2, making a total of 46 appearances.
It was in 2012 that Kalidou Koulibaly signed for the Belgian side Genk, where he also played for two seasons between 2012 and 2014, playing a total of 92 matches in all competitions and scoring 3 goals. However, his career breakthrough came in 2014, when he signed a contract with Napoli in Serie A. Since then, he has been an essential part of the club, playing a total of 299 matches in all competitions for the club and scoring 13 goals so far.
Since 2015 when he played his first match for Senegal in the Africa Cup of Nations qualification against Namibia, he has played a total of 53 matches for his country Senegal. He was part of the Senegalese national team in the 2019 African Cup of Nations who made it all the way to the final match, only to lose against Riyad Mahrez’s Algeria and finish as runner-ups. Although before the start of the 2021 AFCON he was considered to be one of the key players of his country, it was announced that Koulibaly had tested positive for Covid-19 and therefore will lose the majority of the competition.
Another Ivorian player in our list of most valuable African players of 2021, Franck Kessie is actually the most expensive African central midfielder at the time of writing this article. Currently, he is valued at 48 million euros, which makes him the most valuable Ivorian footballer now. However, his market value has declined since the summer of 2021 when he had a market value of 55 million euros. But since he is just 25 years old, many pundits believe that he has a much brighter future ahead of him.
Franck Kessié is considered one of the best midfielders in Europe and together with the Algerian Ismail Bennacer, he has formed a fantastic duo at AC Milan. He is looking to take his Ivory Coast national team to the peak of African football in the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations 2021. He should be one of the stars of the African Cup of Nations 2022 thanks to his balance and strength in midfield.
Being a graduate of Atalanta football academy, Franck Kessie started his professional career in football in 2015 with Atalanta, where he was loaned out for a season to Cesena and it turned to be a success, as he made 37 appearances and scored 4 goals. On his return, he played 31 Serie A matches for Atalanta during the 2016-17 season, before being sent out to AC Milan on loan for two seasons.
His loan spell at AC Milan was so successful that the Milanese team decided to sing him in 2019. During his time with the AC Milan team, Franck Kessie has played a total of 206 matches in all competitions and also scored 37 goals for the club.
Despite his young age, Franck Kessie is an experienced player on the international stage, having represented his country Ivory Coast on no less than 52 occasions. His debut for the senior national team came in 2014 when he was just 17 years old when he played against Sierra Leone in the Africa Cup of Nations qualification. In the Africa Cup of Nations 2022, he will undoubtedly be one of the pillars of the Ivory Coast national team.
The first Nigerian to appear in our list of most valuable African footballers of 2021 happens to be the most expensive African centre forward. With a 60 million euros market value and just 23 years of age, Victor Osimhen has a very bright future in front of him. His market value has consistently risen through the years and he is at the peak of his game right now. We will have to wait and see how much the 71.25 million euros signing of Napoli in 2020 can improve his market value in the coming years.
Victor Osimhen started his professional career in the Bundesliga club VfL Wolfsburg back in 2016, however, the talented forward failed to score a single goal for the club during the 16 matches that he played for them. For this reason and to further improve his game, Wolfsburg decided to loan him out to the Belgian side Charleroi for the 2018-19 season, where he finally found success and scored a total of 20 goals in 36 matches in all competitions.
For the next season, French club Lille signed him, where he once against proved himself as a very prolific striker, scoring a total of 18 goals in 38 matches for the club. His big transfer came in 2020 where he joined the Serie A side Napoli. Since then, he has scored 19 goals in 44 matches for the Italian club.
The 1.86 metres Nigerian striker played his first match for the senior national team of his country back in 2017, where he debuted in a match against Togo, which ended in a 3-0 win for the Super Eagles. Since then, Osimhen has played a total of 18 matches for Nigeria and also scored 10 goals. Victor was regarded as one of the key players of the Nigerian national team in the upcoming African Cup of Nations, however, due to injury, he just missed out on the competitions.
One of the best players of the Nigeria national team and also his club Leicester City, Wilfred Ndidi currently has a market value of 60 million euros, just like his fellow countryman Victor Osimhen. At 25 years old, he is a very young player and for many years the Nigerian national team can count on his skills in the midfield. Since his signing for the Leicester City club, Wilfred Ndidi’s market value has skyrocketed, going from around 14 million to the current market value of 60 million euros.
Wilfred Ndidi started his professional football career in Belgium when he signed for Genk in 2015. Although during his first season there, Ndidi only managed to play a total of six matches in the league, his breakthrough came the following season, when he became a key player of the team’s midfield and played a total of 43 matches in all competitions, scoring four goals. His good performances continued in the next season, to the point that he attracted the attention of many European clubs.
It was during the winter break of the 2016-17 season that Leicester City finalized the signing of Wilfred Ndidi from Genk for a transfer fee of 17 million pounds. Since his arrival in Leicester City, Ndidi has become a pillar of the team and managed to play a total of 185 matches in six seasons, scoring 9 goals in all competitions.
Although Wilfred Ndidi is just 25 years old, the tireless defensive midfielder has already represented his country Nigeria on no less than 43 occasions. His debut with the Nigerian national team came in a friendly match against DR Congo in 2015, when he played a total of 7 minutes of the game as a substitute. Since then, he has played in many major tournaments such as the 2018World Cup
in Russia and the African Cup of Nations. He is undoubtedly one of the biggest players of the Super Eagles in the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations.
The second Moroccan player in our list of most valuable African players of 2022, Achraf Hakimi happens to be the most expensive African fullback at the moment and one of the best players in the world in his position. Currently, he is valued at 70 million euros and at just 23 years old, he is certainly going to improve and increase his market value in the years to come. Since joining Paris Saint-Germain, Achraf Hakimi has retained his market value.
At a young age, he is one of the few players to have the experience of playing in four of the world’s top football leagues and four great clubs, namely the La Liga with Real Madrid, Germany’s Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund, Italian Serie A with Inter Milan and now the French Ligue 1 with Paris Saint-Germain.
Recently transferred to Paris Saint-Germain, Achraf Hakimi has taken on a whole new dimension. The 23-year-old right-back is considered to be one of the best in the world in that position. With his impressive forward movement and ability to break through, he is a speedy player, who can both score and create goals for his teammates. As such, he is an additional asset to the Moroccan team and the future of the national team.
A quick and technical player with numerous other attacking qualities, he has repeatedly put in great performances for Morocco since he first joined the national team. He has played the majority of the games at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and will be eager to get his revenge if he is to have any hope of reaching the top of the competition.
The Spanish-born player made up his mind right away to play for Morocco. Such determination won over the supporters and the federation, which naturally made him become one of the little princes of Morocco. He has already won 41 caps for Morocco and is therefore a very experienced player in the squad. Hakimi, who is a veteran of big games, will be hoping to lead the way for his country in the 2021 African Cup of Nations, win the title and get on the list of African Cup of Nations winners.
The second most valuable African player of 2021 is the star of the Senegal national team and the Liverpool club, Sadio Mane. Having a high market value of 80 million, he is not only one of the most valuable footballers among African players, but he is also one of the most expensive players in the world of football. However, when you compare his current market value to his value back in late 2019, he has experienced a sharp decline in almost two years, going down from 150 million euros to just 80 million.
Just like his fellow countryman Kalidou Koulibaly, Sadio Mane started his career with the French club Metz back in 2011. Having played good matches for the club, a season later he was acquired by the Red Bull Salzburg, where he played 63 league matches in 2 years and scored 31 goals. He entered the English Premier League in 2014 when Southampton signed him for a fee of 11.8 million pounds.
He was also successful there and managed to score 21 league goals in 67 matches over two seasons, before signing for Liverpool in 2016. Since then, Sadio Mane has been a key part of the Liverpool team, where he played a total of 244 matches in all competitions and scored 107 goals for his club.
Will Sadio Mané eventually win a title with his national team? The Senegal striker who plays for Liverpool in the English Premier League is a world-class player. He has already won many trophies at the club level, most notably the Champions League in 2019 and the English Premier League in 2020.
Individually, Mané has been awarded several accolades such as African Player of the Year in 2019 and Premier League Top Scorer in the same year. In addition, Sadio Mané came fourth in the Golden Ball awards in 2019, which is outstanding on its own.
Unfortunately, however, the Senegalese international has never won a trophy with his country, although there is no doubt that he is hungry for one. A great performance at the next Africa Cup of Nations tournament could see him win not only the best player award but also the African champion's award, which would further fill his trophy cabinet and put him on the list of African Cup of Nations winners.
Another Liverpool player in this list of most valuable African footballers of 2021 and the only Egyptian footballer to appear in our list is the famous, talented and impressive footballer Mohamed Salah. Currently, he is valued at 100 million euros, which makes him the most expensive African footballer at the moment and also the fourth most valuable footballer in the world of football, just behind Kylian Mbappé, Erling Haaland and Vinicius Junior. Just like his teammate Sadio Mane, back in 2018 and 2019, he was valued at 150 million euros.
A graduate of Al Mokawloon youth academy, Mohamed Salah started his professional career with the same club in his country Egypt. After the end of his second season, he was noticed by the scouts of the Swiss club Basel, who signed him in 2012. There he played 79 matches in two seasons and scored 20 goals, before being signed by Chelsea. In the 2013-14 season, Salah made his EPL debut with Chelsea jersey and played 19 matches over two seasons.
He then was loaned out to Fiorentina and Roma in Serie A, where he was purchased by the latter club in the 2016-17 season. For AS Roma, Salah played a total of 83 matches and managed to score 34 goals in all competitions. Then in 2017, Liverpool decided to sign Mohamed Salah and since then, he has been a key player for the club, scoring 148 goals in all competitions for the club.
He is another Liverpool player who can finally triumph for his country. Though Egypt has won seven African Cup of Nations titles in the past, Mohamed Salah has never been part of a triumphant team. He came close to winning another title for his country in 2017, but eventually, Egypt lost 2-1 to Cameroon after Vincent Aboubakar scored in the dying minutes.
The Liverpool striker has now gained more experience and, like his teammate Sadio Mané, has also won two major trophies with his club. Indeed, Mohamed Salah has won the Champions League and the Premier League in 2019 and 2020 respectively. On the other hand, the player has also received great personal honours in the last few years such as the African Golden Ball award in 2017 and 2018.
On the international stage, Mo Salah has played a total of 73 matches for his country and scored 43 goals since his debut for Egypt in 2011. For the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations, Mo. Salah is widely expected to put his country back on the African and international stage and put himself on the list of African Cup of Nations winners.
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