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Ranking Africa’s top 20 stars in the world today

Power Ranking of the top African stars in the world game; assessing the continent’s best players on their quality and form by Goal


Arnaut Danjuma | Getty Image

#20 Arnaut Danjuma

Kicked on following his encouraging showings in Bournemouth’s relegation campaign in the Premier League with some excellent performances in the second tier as the Cherries ultimately fell short in the playoffs.

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The wideman ended the season with 17 goals—an impressive number for a winger—and weighed in with seven assists.

He wasn’t able to complete the job with Bournemouth, but his performances have caught the attention of the Nigeria federation, who are believed to be keen on snaring him from the Netherlands.


Ridle Baku | Getty Image

#19 Ridle Baku

Such an eye-catching presence up and down Wolfsburg’s right flank, Baku made his Germany debut this season—representing the European heavyweights in a friendly against the Czech Republic.

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The 23-year-old, who is still eligible for the Democratic Republic of Congo, offers versatility, sensational pace, and is comfortable with both feet.

He might pique the interest of Arsenal, who could be seeking a long-term replacement for Hector Bellerin, and impressed as Germany won the U-21 European Championships.


Reinildo | Getty Image

#18 Reinildo

Reinildo made the French Team of the Season after an excellent season for LOSC Lille.

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A relative late bloomer, Reinildo was a Ligue 1 champion with Les Dogues, having been playing in Mozambican football as recently as 2015.

He becomes the first Mozambique player to win the French title, and—at 27—has established himself as the outstanding left-back in Ligue 1.


Paul Onuachu | Getty Image

#17 Paul Onuachu

Simply sensational in the Belgian top flight this season, Onuachu proved himself to be a relentless goalscoring machine for Genk.

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He ended the campaign with a whopping 33 goals in 38 league outings, and has subsequently been linked with a big move away from the Jupiler League.


Youssef En-Nesyri | Getty Image

#16 Youssef En-Nesyri

There was much excitement earlier this season when En-Nesyri found himself above Lionel Messi in the Spanish top flight scoring charts.

Sevilla great Freddie Kanoute backed En-Nesyri to compete for the Golden Boot, and while he ultimately fell short, a haul of 18 goals is a superb return for a player who has had to answer his fair share of critics en route to the top.

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Wilfried Zaha | Getty Image

#15 Wilfried Zaha

Not coming off the back of his best campaign, but nonetheless, Zaha still registered 11 goals in the Premier League for Crystal Palace and remains—on his day—one of the most eye-catching players in the top flight.

He needs to start the new season strongly, however—at Palace or elsewhere—if he’s to maintain his spot in this Power Ranking.


Victor Osimhen | Getty Image

#14 Victor Osimhen

The jury’s out on whether Osimhen’s maiden season in Italy has been a success story, but that’s primarily because of his eye-watering transfer fee.

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For €70 million, fans were surely expecting much more than his 10 goals, even if Osimhen did end the season on a strong note with a purple patch before the campaign’s conclusion.

Despite the reasons for optimism, there’s no getting away from the fact that this was a disappointing year for Napoli, who missed out on the Champions League and sacked head coach Gennaro Gattuso.


Silas | Getty Image

#13 Silas

The forward’s season has ended in acrimony, with Silas banned for unsporting behaviour after it was revealed that he had been playing under a false identity and with a false age.

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However, considering the obstacles and hurdles faced by African players on their rise to the top, many will have sympathy with his story of manipulation.

On the field, it was a brilliant maiden season in a top flight division as he netted 11 goals for Stuttgart.

Only ten players netted more than him in the Bundesliga this season, and the entertainer appeared to be a natured fit for such rarefied climes.

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The highlight was his double against Werder Bremen in December—where he was booked for taunting the opposition goalkeeper—while his stunning effort against Mainz in January was also evidence of his talent.

Unfortunately, Silas’s campaign was cut short due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury, while he has also been handed a three-month ban.


Yves Bissouma | Getty Image

#12 Yves Bissouma

Yet another season of growth Bissouma, who’s now being linked with some of the Premier League’s biggest clubs, and could be set for a big move this summer.

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He’s been an on-field leader and midfield general for Brighton & Hove Albion this term, helping them stave off the threat of relegation with some commanding showings in the heart of the park.

Eminently watch-able, Arsenal and Manchester United are both understood to be monitoring his situation, while he could also be a potential Georginio Wijnaldum replacement at Liverpool.


Franck Kessie | Getty Image

#11 Franck Kessie

Kessie is coming off the back of a superb season with AC Milan, as he proved to be an inspirational figure for the Rossoneri as—for a time at least—they mounted a credible title challenge.

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He netted 13 goals—a career high, even though many were penalties—and also demonstrated his leadership qualities in the middle of the park.

He was named in the African Football HQ African Team of the Year, following his outstanding displays, and it will be intriguing to see whether he can help Milan push for the title next term.


Kelechi Iheanacho | Getty Image

#10 Kelechi Iheanacho

An FA Cup winner with Leicester City, Iheanacho was influential as the Foxes reached the final for the first time since 1969, delivering some outstanding performances en route to the final.

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The showpiece itself at Wembley Stadium may have passed him by, but during the run-up to the final he made decisive contributions against Manchester United (a brace) and Southampton (the winner), becoming the all-time top African scorer in the competition in the process.

In the league, he bagged a career-high 12 goals—finally realising the potential he showed as a youngster—but it ultimately wasn’t enough to send the Foxes into the Champions League.


Simy Nwankwo | Getty Image

#9 Simy Nwankwo

Simy enjoyed a remarkable goalscoring record in the top flight this season.

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Despite playing for relegation certs Crotone—who ended the season in 19th place—Simy still registered 20 goals, putting him joint fifth in the overall scoring charts.

He broke the record for goals scored by a Nigerian player in a single season in a major European league, and eclipsed Obafemi Martins as the Super Eagles’ all-time top scorer in the Italian top flight.

What does the future hold for the towering frontman following his superb season?

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Wesley Fofana | Getty Image

#8 Wesley Fofana

What a season it’s been for Fofana, who arrived in English football and swiftly excelled alongside the likes of Caglar Soyuncu and Jonny Evans in the Leicester backline.

He was part of the FA Cup-winning team—showcasing his qualities against Chelsea in the final—and it could have been a different story for the Foxes on the final day of the season as Fofana was withdrawn with injury with the match against Spurs still in the balance.

Eligible for Mali, he was unable to participate in this summer’s U-21 European Championships with France after tearing his hamstring in the last game of the season.

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One of the finest centre-backs in the Prem this term, despite having made only 20 senior top flight appearances (all with Saint-Etienne) before this season.


Patson Daka

#7 Patson Daka

The 22-year-old has become one of the hottest properties in European football this season, and is now being touted as a potential solution for some of the continent’s biggest clubs and their striking problems.

He’s registered 51 goals in the Austrian Bundesliga over the last two campaigns, and his movement off the ball and finishing ability suggest he’s most definitely destined to the top.

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Wilfred Ndidi

#6 Wilfred Ndidi

Ndidi continued to go from strength to strength this term.

The Foxes simply aren’t the same team without him, and the Nigerian once again ends the year as the most prolific tackler in the division.

Only one player—Leeds United’s Liam Cooper—averaged more interceptions per match than the Super Eagle, and he’s also mighty unlucky not to be playing Champions League football next term.

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Sadio Mane | Getty Image

#5 Sadio Mane 

There’s no doubt that Mane fell short of his own high standards this season, evidenced by the fact that he doesn’t even make our top five Premier League Africans for the campaign.

He himself acknowledged that this was the worst season of his career, while his momentary end-of-season bust-up with Jurgen Klopp was one of the low points of his time in England.

However, he nonetheless ends the year having had a hand in 18 goals during the season, while his final-day double against Crystal Palace was enough to send Liverpool into the Champions League.

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Achraf Hakimi | Getty Image

#4 Achraf Hakimi

Met—if not surpassed—pre-season expectations with a superb campaign for Internazionale, and was duly rewarded with a Serie A winner’s medal.

Hakimi’s energy and dynamism down the right flank was a major asset for Antonio Conte’s side—having a hand in 14 goals throughout the campaign—and he continued to establish himself as one of the outstanding right-backs in the world game.

Crucially, Hakimi came up clutch in the critical games of the season; he contributed decisive assists in the 1-0 victories over Cagliari and Hellas Verona during the run-in, and scored the second as the title was sealed with a 2-0 victory over Crotone.

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The question is, however, will he still be at Internazionale in time for the start of 2021-22?


Mohamed Salah | Getty Image

#3 Mohamed Salah

Despite Liverpool’s implosion and miserable title defence, despite the media criticism, it ended up being a pretty superb season for Salah.

He may have just been pipped to the Golden Boot by Harry Kane on the last day of the season, but Salah nonetheless ended the year with 22 goals—the same amount with which he won the top scorer award in 2018-19.

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He largely maintained his high standards despite the disintegration of the Reds’ midfield and the drop in form of Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, and he ultimately won the club’s Player of the Season award.


Edouard Mendy | Getty Image

#2 Edouard Mendy

Unfortunate to miss out on top spot in the Power Ranking, Mendy ended the season as a European champion having enjoyed a magnificent continental campaign for Chelsea.

He was influential in the semi-final as the Blues downed Real Madrid—keeping Karim Benzema at bay—and became the UCL debutant with the most clean sheets in a single season in the tournament’s history.

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He also excelled in the Premier League after replacing the error-prone Kepa Arrizabalaga.


Riyad Mahrez | Getty Image

#1 Riyad Mahrez

In the past, there have been questions about the contribution made by Mahrez to Manchester City’s successes, with the Algeria international seen as a decorative presence rather than an integral part of the Sky Blues’ victories.

He certainly had a point to prove this term after City’s disappointments during the 2019-20 season.

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However, there can be no disputes about Mahrez’s contribution to their success this term, as the maestro has had a hand in 15 goals—scoring nine—and made Opta’s Team of the Season.

He wins his third Premier League title—Didier Drogba is the only African player with more—and was sensational as Paris Saint-Germain were dispatched in the Champions League semi-final.

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