African players are already taking the 2015/2016 season of the English Premier League by storm. We count down the top ten new players dominating the pitch (or chomping at the bit).
The Senegalese defensive midfielder signed to Aston Villa in July 2015 for a fee of £9m. The 25-year-old played for Lille’s B team from 2008 to 2010, before switching to the senior team where he played until his move to the English Premier League. He also won the Ligue 1 title with the club in 2011.
Gueye was seen as a good replacement for Fabian Delph who moved to Manchester City this summer. Manager Tim Sherwood has backed the African to succeed at the club. ‘What Idrissa gives you is hundred per cent every time he plays. He is wholehearted, he suits the Premier League and he loves the pace of the game.
‘He is very aggressive; he gets at people, wants to tackle and wants to get on the football. He is brave in and out of possession – and that’s something you want to see. We are really pleased with him. He has been outstanding.’
And this seems to be proving true despite Aston Villa’s poor form. Gueye has been more impressive than Delph last season in defence, averaging four tackles and 3.6 interceptions per game. And for both categories, he’s up there with the top five Premier League players.
The former Anderlecht player made a transfer to Newcastle in July and was signed for £8m. He’s got a five-year contract with the club, which should see him playing for the Magpies until 2020.
Chancel Mbemba has continued to impress in his performance thus far for Newcastle. It’s just a pity they couldn’t spell his name right:
He was recently named best performing under-21 centre-back by the CIES Football Observatory.
Mbemba has been capped a grand total of 17 times for the Democratic Republic of Congo senior team.
Moha El Ouriachi was one of the most promising players on Barcelona’s B side but due to a lack of playing time during a woeful season for the Segunda squad, he turned down an offer of a new Barcelona contract, signing instead for Stoke City this summer for an undisclosed amount; he is expected to stay with Barca until 2019. He will be back with fellow ex-Barça players Bojan and Marc Muniesa.
Stoke chief executive Tony Scholes said: ‘He’s excited about joining a Premier League club, especially one that already has two former Barcelona players in their squad. Moha has seen the progress made by Bojan and Marc and wants to try and do likewise.’
The 19-year-old winger played for Spain at youth level but has also been selected by Morocco for their under-23 team.
The 26-year-old was signed by Aston Villa this summer for £6m. He made the move from Blackburn Rovers where he played in the championship, scoring 22 goals in 44 games for Rovers last season. The striker has now signed a five-year deal with Villa.
Gestede played internationally for France at under-19 level between 2006 to 2008, before switching international allegiance to Benin where he has since scored three goals in six appearances for the national team.
He is also eligible to play for the United States of America through a grandparent. He scored a goal in his debut outing for Aston Villa in the game against AFC Bournemouth where he came in as a substitute.
And finally, did you know that Gestede runs energy drinks company No Limit?
‘I like to have something other than football to keep my mind busy,’ he said. ‘We are concentrating on selling in Africa now as there aren’t as many energy drinks and our price is cheaper than Red Bull.’
Tunisian defender Yohan Benaloune joined the Foxes on a four-year deal in August for a fee of £5.6m, leaving the Serie A where he played for Atalanta with a total of 27 appearances for the club last season. The 28-year-old centre-back is a former France under-21 international but has chosen to represent Tunisia.
He made his first team debut for Leicester City as a substitute during a 4-2 victory over Sunderland, while he also played the full 90 minutes in the development squad’s 1-1 home draw with Manchester United in August. The development squad manager of the team, Steve Beaglehole, said of Benalouane, ‘He looks a good acquisition’.
The Malian midfielder is already making waves in Crystal Palace, having joined the Premier League side in August, penning a three-year contract following his release from Wolves, where Sako scored 38 goals over 124 games for the team.
It is not difficult to see why the fans love him: he scored the second-winning goal for Palace on his full debut against Aston Villa on August 22 and then scored again alongside teammate Joel Ward the following week away to Chelsea, in a 2-1 win, which was Jose Mourinho’s second-ever loss at Stamford Bridge. He’s played 14 games for Mali putting 6 goals in net for the team.
21-year-old Abdul Rahman Baba is the third Ghanaian to sign to Chelsea after Michael Essien and Christian Atsu. Baba was sold from German football club FC Augsburg for a whopping £21.7m in August 2015. The left-back attempted more crosses than any other player in the Bundesliga last season, but there have been reservations on whether he’ll fit into Chelsea’s first XI and compete with first choice, César Azpilicueta for the left-back position.
In the game against Dynamo Kiev on November 4, Mourinho started with Rahman, allowing Azpilicueta to move to right-back. The result suggested it was a good move.
This is part of a phenomenal rise in his career; he was playing for Asante Kotoko in the Ghanaian League only three years ago. Luckily forMourinho, he says his target is to win trophies for Chelsea.
‘My main aim is to win trophies for the club. Obviously Chelsea won the Premier League last season and I hope we can repeat that, and do even more. That’s what I hope to achieve.’
Just like his older sibling, Jordan Ayew made a move from Ligue 1 to join Aston Villa on a five-year deal for an undisclosed amount, reported to be in the region of £8.8m.
Prior to his move to the English Premier League, the striker had spent his entire professional career in France, moving through the ranks from Lyon Duchère to Marseille, then Sochaux before settling at Lorient from where he transferred to Villa.
Though he found the back of the net 12 times in 31 games for Lorient, he wasn’t as prolific in his first two months at Aston Villa. He’s improved recently, though, scoring against Tottenham Hotspur and against his brother’s side Swansea where he had an epic match: a goal, five shots, and a pass-accuracy percentage of 88.
Papy Djilobodji is Chelsea’s latest acquisition, following his deadline-day move to the Premier League champions from Nantes. Djilobodji had been linked to Celta Vigo, Crystal Palace and QPR before he was snatched by Mourinho. The 26-year-old was signed for a fee suspected to be about £2.7m.
However, he wasn’t included in their 25-man squad for the UEFA Champions League group stages and has instead been included in their Premier League side.
The Senegalese player signed a four-year contract with the Blues and has taken the No. 15 shirt. But the lack of playing time so far means that Papy has had a lot of time to relax.
It’s the Senegalese national team who have been keeping the centre-back busy. He has been capped 13 times.
Midfielder Andre Ayew joined Swansea City from Ligue 1 team Marseille on a free transfer in June. He’s amassed thousands of fans since the new season kicked off in August. He’s already one of the top scorers of the league, excelling in his debut outing against league giants Chelsea and has so far scored five league goals in 11 performances – including crucial matches against Newcastle and Manchester United.
25-year-old Ayew joined the Swans on a four-year deal with a signing-on fee of £5.7m making him the highest-paid player at Swansea, reportedly receiving about £60,000 a week. He seems to be earning his keep as he won Swansea’s best player of the month of October. Ayew is definitely one to watch out for and has just been nominated for the Confederation of African Football player of the year award.