Ten Africans To Keep An Eye On
The much anticipated European football season has begun and as usual there are Africans plying their trade in Europe looking to impress. In a year when an African became the highest wage earner for a footballer, it is worth checking out who might be the next Samuel Eto’o in the making! Here we try to capture ten players who may have an impact as big as Eto’o in future.
André Ayew (Marseille, Ghana): If there is one footballer who possesses the talent to write Africa’s name in gold, then DedeAyew is that player. The son of Africa’s iconic star Abedi Pele, Ayew was born in France. Dede led Ghana to first conquering Africa and then the world at both the U-20 Africa Youth Championship and the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup. Blessed with a venomous left foot, he had a wonderful 2010/2011 with Marseille where he scored 11 goals and was voted Marseille’s best player of the season, having honed his skills with loan moves to both Lorient and Arles Avignon. At 22 years of age and with big club sides like Arsenal and Manchester United having courted this gifted left winger cum striker in the past, it’s believed that should Dede remain humble, disciplined and professional, the sky will be his stepping stone. Watch out for this African jewel.
Anthony Ujah (Mainz, Nigeria): At just 20, Ujah loves to bang them in. After scoring 32 goals in 42 matches for Norway’s Lillestrom, he signed for Mainz for a reported fee of about $4.3million after a long transfer saga that almost saw him join Danish club, Brondby IF. Ujah signed for Lillestrom from Nigerian club side Warri Wolves FC in the winter of 2010. Ujah continued his rich vein of form in Mainz’s pre-season campaign as he bagged 4 goals in 5 matches. Ujah has a strong left foot and is also good in the air. He will be looking to help Mainz improve on their 5th place finish last season. This is a scoring sensation to follow this season.
Papiss Demba Cisse (Freiburg, Senegal): Cisse hails from Senegal and signed for his current club, SC Freiburg in 2009. Last season in the Bundesliga, he finished second in the goal scorers chart . The 26 year old boasts strength and pace which allowed him to notch up 22 goals for the Breisgau-Brasilianer. That is the highest record of goals ever set by an African in a single season in the Bundesliga. Seeing that the club’s all-time leading goal scorer Joachim Leow scored 82 goals, this might just be a small nut to crack for Cisse if he stays for a few more years. He is already hot property though, as several clubs are reportedly monitoring him. His prolificacy is not missed at national level as he has scored seven times in nine appearances for the Teranga Lions of Senegal. He’s begun the season in the same cracking form as he is currently leading the goal scorers’ chart in the Bundesliga with 4 goals.
Cheick Tiote (Newcastle United, Cote d’Ivoire): After winning the Dutch title with Twente in the 2009/2010 season, Tiote moved to English Premiership side Newcastle United for a fee of just over 3 million pounds. His first season in the premiership was an absolute success as he became a strong wall in the heart of Newcastle ‘s midfield. The defensive midfielder is already an important part of the Newcastle squad, starting 38 matches last season. He scored a thunderous 25-yard volley against Arsenal in a late equaliser to tie 4-4 at Goodison Park. His performance in that match was a memorable one. His season performances were rewarded by the Newcastle board as he signed a new deal keeping him at Newcastle until 2017.
Moussa Sow (LOSC Lille, Senegal): Sow was a crucial figure in Lille ‘s first league title win since 1954 scoring 25 goals, as he finished top scorer in the league. He will be looking to surpass last season’s tally and will be key in Lille’s UEFA Champions league campaign. His national career started with the French under 19 team but he moved on to earn his first cap for Senegal in 2009.
Jonathan Pitroipa (Rennes, Burkina Faso): ‘Jon’ as this Burkinabe is fondly called is one player whose huge potentials have taken too long to mature. Adjudged at a time the best dribbler in German Bundesliga , Pitroipa has explosive pace with the frame to go past opposing defenders with ease. His goal scoring instincts however still need sharpening. He has to work on his decision-making too. Now 25, the French league had long been seen as best suited for the lad and it was no surprise he joined Rennes this summer from Hamburg. His darting runs will be a plus in the Championnat and it’s believed that barring injuries, he will maintain his rich vein of form which has seen him bag 4 goals so far in both the Ligue 1 and the Europa league qualifiers. Stay glued to his exploits this season.
Kwadwo Asamoah (Udinese, Ghana): The pacey Ghanaian is very interesting to watch. Udinese’s creativity rests solely on the supreme skills, great vision and delicate footwork of this gifted Ghanaian. He can also hit them from a distance. His country’s great run to the quarterfinals of last year’s World Cup was in part to his defense splitting passes and all-round contribution. The 22-year-old strong midfielder started 37 games for the Zebrette last season. That’s how important he is.
Kevin-Prince Boateng (AC Milan, Ghana): Prince is already a popular figure among Milan fans after a splendid first season at Milan. A complete midfielder, Prince possesses both attacking and defensive qualities that make him an integral part of the Milan squad. Milan was quick to make permanent his loan move from Genoa as that was the only viable option after his performance last season. Already a vital part of the Milan squad, Prince will be looking to retain the Scudetto next year. The 24-year-old scored 4 goals and helped with three assists last season. Watch out for his dance moves and his flamboyance.
Thulani Serero (Ajax, South Africa): Serero is one of the players to make it from AFC Ajax’s project in South Africa, Ajax Cape Town to AFC Ajax. After several trials with parent club AFC Ajax, he finally signed a 4-year-contract with the Dutch club On May 22, 2011. He earned major plaudits in his final season at South Africa with Ajax Cape town in which he scored 11 goals and helped his club finish second on the league table. The attacking midfielder who is just 21 years old will be looking to do well in his first shot at European football .
Ahmed Musa (VVV Venlo, Nigeria): Arguably Nigeria’s most promising talent, Musa started his career in the Nigerian Premier league where he continuously banged in goals with ease. He currently holds the record for the highest goals ever scored in the history of the Nigerian Premier League with 18 goals. He joined Venlo in the summer of 2010 and helped them escape relegation that season after scoring two goals in their 3-2 win over Feyenoord. He was impressive in the just concluded FIFA under-20 World Cup where he scored 3 goals and created 3 assists for his country. He has begun this season in elegant form after scoring a brace in his club’s 2-2 drsaw against Ajax in the Eredivisie. At just 19 years, Ahmed Musa is one striker to watch.
Obasa Olalekan is an ardent lover of AC Milan. He can be contacted via Twitter @obsylakeside