Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea. These are all high-profile English football clubs competing in Britain’s – and probably the world’s – best-known national competition, the Premier League. Their names probably sound familiar if you have ever read sports news or taken a look at the odds over at Betway. And they have one more thing in common: they have signed some of the most expensive African football players in history. Who are they? Let’s take a look below.
6. Tanguy Ndombele Alvaro
Ndombele’s parents emigrated from Congo to France before having him so he was born a French citizen. He started playing football at the age of six with FC Épinay Athlético, a small team in a small town outside Paris and worked his way up to Ligue 1 side Amiens over the years, where he signed his first professional contract. In 2017, he was on loan at Lyon – his contract was made permanent in 2018, and he spent a season with the team. After playing 34 league games with the club, he moved on once again – he left his native France to play for Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur in a transfer contract worth €62 million.
5. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has football in his blood: he is the son of former Gabon national team captain Pierre Aubameyang. He started playing football at an early age with ASL L’Huisserie Football then switched teams several times before ending up at the youth academy of the Serie A team Milan. When joining the senior team, he spent years on loan playing for Dijon, Lille, and other French teams before signing the Ligue 1 side Saint-Étienne. There, he became a regular goalscorer and made a name for himself as a creative, talented player. Saint-Étienne let him go after two seasons – he signed with 2012-13 Champions League finalist Borussia Dortmund in 2013, and finally had the chance to show his worth: he ended his final season with the team as the top goalscorer of the league with 31 goals scored during the season.
In 2018, Aubameyang left Germany to play in the Premier League. Arsenal paid a record-breaking amount to have him: €63.7 million.
4. Nicolas Pépé
Pépé, another French-born player of Ivorian descent, started his career as a goalkeeper, from where he moved on further on the field – today, he plays as a winger. He played at several teams before joining Lille in 2017 and truly showed his worth there: in the 2018-2019 Ligue 1 season, he has become the second-highest goalscorer of the league after Kylian Mbappé, the French wonder-kid currently playing for Paris Saint Germain. This June, it was rumoured that Napoli wants to sign him for a fee of £71.7 million – ultimately, he was signed by Premier League side Arsenal for €79 million.
3. Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Menama Lukaku Bolingoli is a Belgian player of Congolese descent playing for Manchester United as a striker. He played more than 80 games for the Belgian national team and won the Bronze Boot at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. He also played more than 300 league games during his career, scoring more than 130 goals. He started his career at Anderlecht, from where he transferred to Chelsea in 2011. Next, he moved on to Everton, spending three brilliant seasons there before Manchester United lured him with a transfer fee of £75 million (plus £15 million in add-ons).
2. Paul Pogba
At one time, Pogba was the most expensive football player in the world – in 2016, he left Juventus for Manchester United in a transfer contract worth €105 million. He was born in France to Guinean parents – he has two older twin brothers who play for the Guinean national team. He started playing football at the age of six, working his way up from the small local team of Roissy-en-Brie to the youth academy of Manchester United. After two years with the team and just 3 league appearances, he signed with Juventus in 2012 where he finally had his chance – and he took it. After 124 league appearances and 28 goals scored for the team in four years, he returned to his formative team in a world record-breaking transfer (at the time, of course).
1. Kylian Mbappé
The most expensive football player of African descent (so far) is Kylian Mbappé, the wonder-kid playing for Paris Saint Germain. His father is a football coach from Cameroon, and his mother is an Algerian former handball player, so the love for sports was imprinted in his DNA. He started playing with AS Bondy in 2004, at the age of six, from where he moved on to Monaco at the age of 15. He was quickly promoted to the club’s first team, and called up for the French national team as well – he was part of France’s World Cup-winning squad, becoming the second teenager, after Pelé, to score in a World Cup Final, the joint second-highest goalscorer, and the Best Young Player at the event. No wonder most big teams wanted to sign him – the one that did, in the end, was Paris Saint Germain, paying €135 million to have him.