Across the top European leagues, a new set of young players from Africa and the diaspora are creating landmark moments and maturing at a quicker rate than ever before. Games in domestic and European Cup competitions are finishing schools which allow the aerobic artists to finesse the finer arts of football.
Here are the top five young African players of the diaspora…
A deadline day deal last September saw the Senegalese winger join Southampton from Red Bull Salzburg FC and has since become a key starter in the Saints’ lineup. The silky Sadio scored ten goals in his debut season and is currently attracting interest from Manchester United.
Did you know? He scored the fastest hat-trick in Premier League history last season versus Aston Villa at home.
Born in Bilbao, Spain to a Ghanaian father and Liberian mother, Williams has risen through the Athletic Bilbao’s youth academy since joining relatively late at the age of 16. Powerful and with a lot of panache, the striker’s African heritage redefines dialogue around a homegrown player in a globalised context. He emerges from the club’s cantera policy which famously selects players born or trained in the Basque Country.
Did you know? Iñaki became the club’s first black goalscorer in its 117th year history in a Europa League tie against Torino in February this year.
Two seasons ago, the unknown Algerian broke into the Spurs midfield under Tim ‘I would wear a gilet in LA’ Sherwood. Since then, Bentaleb has seen his stock rise becoming a regular starter for the North London club and recently signing a new contract. Adept in a central and defensive midfield role, he plays a key role in an Algeria side packed with exciting European-based players from the diaspora that reached the last 16 at World Cup in 2014.
Did you know? He was formerly in the academy of French side Lille but was released at the age of 15.
Hailing from Tamale in Ghana’s Northern Region, the gifted left back who played for Ghana’s under-20 side as a 16 year old has enjoyed a whirlwind ascent in the last few years. Initially reaching European shores via newly promoted Greuther Fürth, Rahman moved onto FC Augsburg for just one season where his solid performances led to Chelsea pursuing and finally completing a move for the Ghanaian international.
Did you know? In his final game for Greuther Fürth, Baba scored his only senior goals to date in a 5-1 win against rivals Nuremberg (he scored two and set up a third).
Dribbling quicker than Scooby Doo upon sight of a buffet, Ahmed Musa is a composed winger with a low centre of gravity which twists defenders into knots. Known by Super Eagles fans as ‘Air Nigeria’, Musa recently scored the winning goal against Sporting Lisbon to help his club side, CSKA Moscow, qualify for the Champions League group phase.
Did you know? He was the first Nigerian to score more than once in a World Cup game after scoring a brace versus Argentina at World Cup 2014.