Top 10 Best African Players In Premier League History 

This guide lists the top 10 best African players In Premier League history, and this ranking is based on their achievements, and overall impact on their team.

If you ask me, the Premier League wouldn’t be the same without these exceptional talents from Africa. These aren’t just footballers; they’re African icons. They’ve broken records and fought expectations.

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Who Are The Best African Players In Premier League History?

Here are the top 10 best African players In Premier League history:

1. Didier Drogba

Didier Drogba

One of the best African players in Premier League history is Didier Drogba. He joined Chelsea in July 2004 for £24 million., and quickly made an impact, scoring in his third game.

Despite a stomach muscle injury that kept him out for two months, he helped Chelsea win the Premier League and the League Cup in his first season.

Drogba scored 16 goals in 40 games that season. In the 2005-06 season, Drogba started with two goals in the Community Shield.

He faced some controversy with accusations of handball and diving but finished the season with 16 goals, helping Chelsea retain their league title.

The 2006-07 season was a standout year for Drogba. He scored 33 goals in all competitions, including 20 in the Premier League, winning the Golden Boot.

Highlights included game-winning goals against Liverpool, Everton, and Barcelona, and a 93rd-minute equalizer against Barcelona.

Drogba scored both goals in the League Cup final win over Arsenal and the winning goal in the FA Cup final against Manchester United.

He was named African Footballer of the Year and included in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year.

In the 2007-08 season, Drogba faced challenges off the pitch with the departure of manager José Mourinho.

He also dealt with injuries but still managed to score important goals, including two in the Champions League semi-final against Liverpool. Despite being sent off in the Champions League final, he remained an important player for Chelsea.

Drogba continued to score crucial goals and win titles for Chelsea, including the Premier League and FA Cup in the 2009-10 season.

In the 2011-12 season, he scored the equalizer and the winning penalty in the Champions League final, securing Chelsea’s first Champions League trophy.

Drogba is remembered for his ability to perform in big games and his incredible record in finals. In a poll of 20,000 fans, he was named Chelsea’s greatest player ever.

2. Yaya Toure

Yaya Toure

Yaya Touré is one of the greatest African players in Premier League history. He played for Manchester City and made a huge impact. Touré joined Manchester City on 2 July 2010 with a five-year contract for around £24 million.

He made his Premier League debut on 14 August in a 0–0 draw against Tottenham Hotspur and scored his first goal against Wigan Athletic on 19 September.

His performances were outstanding, and he scored important goals throughout the season, including the only goal in the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United and the winning goal in the FA Cup final against Stoke City.

These goals helped Manchester City win their first major trophy in 35 years. In the 2011-12 season, Touré played an integral role as Manchester City won their first Premier League title in 44 years.

He set records for the most passes attempted and completed in a single match. Touré’s crucial goals, like the two against Newcastle United, were key in City’s title race.

His performance in the important match against Manchester United was praised as “dominant” and “magnificent.” Touré continued his success in the following seasons.

He won the African Player of the Year award in 2011 and 2012. Yaya was known for his powerful runs, accurate passes, and important goals.

In the 2013-14 season, he scored 20 goals in the Premier League, a rare achievement for a midfielder. He helped Manchester City win another Premier League title and the League Cup.

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3. Nwankwo Kanu

Nwankwo Kanu

Nwankwo Kanu is one of the best African players in Premier League history. In February 1999, after playing only twelve league games and scoring one goal for Inter Milan, Kanu was signed by Arsenal for around £4.15 million.

He made his debut for Arsenal in an FA Cup match against Sheffield United. This match was controversial because Kanu chased a throw-in intended for the opposing goalkeeper and set up a goal, which led Arsenal’s manager, Arsène Wenger, to offer a replay.

Despite this rocky start, Kanu impressed at Arsenal. He scored his first goal in the next round of the FA Cup against Derby County.

Kanu became known for scoring crucial goals as a substitute, including memorable strikes against Sheffield Wednesday, Tottenham Hotspur, and Aston Villa.

His two-fingered salute to fans, starting in 1999, became iconic. Kanu won the African Footballer of the Year award for the second time in 1999.

During the 1999-2000 season, he scored 17 goals in 50 matches, including a famous hat-trick against Chelsea that turned a 2-0 into a 3-2 victory.

Although Kanu’s role at Arsenal reduced with the emergence of Thierry Henry, he remained an important player, contributing to Arsenal’s unbeaten 2003-04 season.

He won the FA Cup with Arsenal in 2003 and was part of the “Invincibles” team. In total, Kanu played 197 games for Arsenal, scoring 44 goals.

He left Arsenal in 2004 for West Bromwich Albion. At West Brom, Kanu had a notable but mixed spell. He scored crucial goals but also had some unforgettable misses. Kanu helped the team avoid relegation in the 2004-05 season.

After West Brom was relegated in 2006, Kanu moved to Portsmouth, where he had a successful stint, becoming the club’s top scorer in his first season and helping them win the FA Cup in 2008.

4. Jay-Jay Okocha

Jay-Jay Okocha

Jay-Jay Okocha is considered one of the best African players to have ever played in the Premier League.

He joined Bolton Wanderers on 18 June 2002, on a free transfer after leaving Paris Saint-Germain following the 2002 FIFA World Cup.

Even though he faced injuries in his debut season, Okocha quickly became a fan favorite at Bolton. The fans loved him so much that the club printed shirts with the phrase “Jay-Jay, so good they named him twice.”

Okocha played a key role in helping Bolton avoid relegation, scoring seven goals that season. One of these goals, scored in a crucial win against West Ham United, was later voted as Bolton’s Goal of the Season.

In 2008, fans also voted this goal as Bolton’s best-ever Premier League goal. The following season, Okocha was given more responsibility as he was made captain after Guðni Bergsson retired.

As captain, he led Bolton to the 2004 Football League Cup final, their first cup final in nine years. Although Bolton lost to Middlesbrough, Okocha’s leadership and skills were highly praised.

In 2006, Okocha was stripped of his captaincy, which he saw coming due to a change in attitude from some staff members.

This change was likely because of rumors about his possible move to the Middle East. At the end of the season, he declined a one-year extension with Bolton and chose to move to Qatar.

After Bolton was relegated from the Premier League in 2012, Okocha expressed disappointment, saying that his time at the club felt like a waste because the club did not build on the strong foundation laid during his tenure.

Regardless of this, Okocha’s legacy at Bolton remains strong. In 2017, he was voted the best player to have ever played for Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok/Macron Stadium.

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5. Michael Essien

Michael Essien

Michael Essien is widely regarded as one of the greatest African players in Premier League history. His journey to the Premier League began when Lyon and Chelsea agreed on a £24.4 million fee for Essien on 14 August 2005.

This made him Chelsea’s most expensive signing at the time, surpassing the £24 million paid for Didier Drogba.

The transfer was finalized on 19 August 2005, though it came under study in the Stevens inquiry report due to concerns about the lack of cooperation from agents Pini Zahavi and Barry Silkman.

Essien made his Chelsea debut as a second-half substitute against Arsenal on 21 August 2005, contributing to a 1–0 victory.

He established himself as a key player, starting in 31 domestic league matches and making important contributions in other competitions.

Essien’s aggressive style on the field led to a two-match ban by UEFA in December 2005 for a tackle on Dietmar Hamann, but he publicly apologized, and Hamann accepted his apology.

Essien scored his first goal for Chelsea on 11 March 2006 against Tottenham Hotspur. By the end of his first season, he had scored two goals in the Premier League.

His performances earned him nominations for prestigious awards, including the 2006 FIFA World Player of the Year and the Ballon d’Or, where he finished 22nd and was also voted the third Best African Footballer of the Year.

The following seasons saw Essien score crucial goals, including a memorable one in the Champions League quarter-final against Valencia in 2007.

He was voted Chelsea Player of the Year for the 2006–07 season and continued to make important contributions, including scoring a dramatic equalizer against Arsenal. Essien signed a new five-year deal with Chelsea in 2008, but his career was hampered by injuries.

Despite this, he returned to score important goals, such as the left-footed volley against Barcelona in the 2009 Champions League semifinal.

6. Sadio Mane

Sadio Mane

Sadio Mané is undoubtedly one of the best African players in Premier League history. His journey in the league began in the 2014-15 season when he joined Southampton from Red Bull Salzburg for £11.8 million.

Mané made his debut in a League Cup match against Arsenal, where he won a penalty that contributed to Southampton’s 2-1 victory.

His first Premier League goal came soon after in a stunning 8-0 win over Sunderland. Mané’s pace, skill, and eye for goal made him a key player for Southampton.

He set a Premier League record for the fastest hat trick, scoring three goals in just 2 minutes and 56 seconds against Aston Villa.

By the end of the 2015-16 season, he was Southampton’s top scorer with 15 goals in all competitions.

In June 2016, Mané moved to Liverpool for a fee of £34 million, becoming the most expensive African player at the time.

He became a fan favorite at Anfield, scoring on his debut against Arsenal and helping Liverpool to a fourth-place finish in his first season.

His impressive performances won him a spot in the PFA Team of the Year. Over the next few seasons, Mané’s contributions were instrumental in Liverpool’s success.

He was part of the “Fab Three” alongside Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, known for their attacking prowess.

In the 2017-18 season, Mané scored a hat-trick against Porto in the Champions League and became the highest-scoring Senegalese player in Premier League history.

Mané played an integral part in Liverpool’s 2018-19 season, scoring 22 league goals and sharing the Premier League Golden Boot with Salah and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. He also helped Liverpool win the Champions League, scoring in the final against Real Madrid.

The following season, he helped Liverpool win the UEFA Super Cup and the Premier League, ending the club’s 30-year wait for a league title.

Throughout his career at Liverpool, Mané continued to break records and earn accolades, including being named the CAF African Footballer of the Year in 2020.

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7. Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah is one of the greatest African players in Premier League history, having started with Chelsea in 2014.

On January 23, 2014, Chelsea announced a deal with Basel to sign Salah for around £11 million, making him the first Egyptian to sign for the London club.

Although Liverpool was interested and made an offer, Chelsea secured his signature. Salah made his Premier League debut for Chelsea on February 8, 2014, as a substitute in a 3–0 win over Newcastle United.

He scored his first goal for Chelsea in a 6–0 victory over Arsenal on March 22, 2014. Despite showing potential, Salah’s time at Chelsea was seen by limited appearances and loan spells, notably to Fiorentina and Roma, where he regained his form.

Salah’s career took a dramatic turn when he joined Liverpool on June 22, 2017, for an initial fee of £36.5 million, a club record at the time.

He scored on his Premier League debut for Liverpool in a 3–3 draw against Watford on August 12, 2017.

Salah’s first season with Liverpool was extraordinary; he broke the Premier League record for goals in a 38-game season, scoring 32 goals, and won the Premier League Golden Boot.

His performances earned him the PFA Players’ Player of the Year and the Football Writers’ Player of the Year.

In the 2017-2018 season, Salah’s impact was massive, helping Liverpool reach the Champions League final, although they lost to Real Madrid.

He continued his impressive form in subsequent seasons, winning the Premier League Golden Boot again in the 2018-2019 season and leading Liverpool to their sixth Champions League title.

In the 2019-2020 season, he played a part in Liverpool’s historic Premier League title win, their first in 30 years.

By the 2021-2022 season, he had become Liverpool’s top Premier League scorer and achieved numerous records, including being the fastest player to reach 100 Premier League goals for Liverpool.

Salah’s contributions have not just been limited to his goal-scoring prowess. His playmaking ability was highlighted in the 2021-2022 season when he won the Playmaker of the Season award for the most assists.

8. Riyad Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez is one of the top African players in Premier League history. Mahrez began his career in France with Le Havre.

Interestingly, it was while Leicester City’s scout, Steve Walsh, was monitoring another player that Mahrez caught his eye.

Despite not knowing much about Leicester City, Mahrez joined them in January 2014 for around £450,000.

His family and friends were initially skeptical about his move to English football, thinking his style was better suited to Spain.

However, Mahrez made his debut for Leicester on 25 January 2014. By the end of his first season, he helped Leicester win the Championship, earning promotion to the Premier League.

In his debut Premier League season, Mahrez showed his potential, contributing four goals and three assists.

The 2015-16 season was a turning point in Mahrez’s career. He signed a new contract and started the season brilliantly, scoring four goals in the first three games.

His performances won him the Premier League Player of the Month nomination and by December, he had scored a hat-trick against Swansea City, making him the first Algerian to do so in the Premier League.

His role was key in Leicester’s miraculous title win that season. Mahrez ended the season with the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award and became the first African to win the accolade.

Mahrez’s success attracted interest from bigger clubs, and in July 2018, he signed with Manchester City for a then-record fee for an African player.

With Manchester City, he helped the club win multiple titles, including the Premier League and the FA Cup.

In the 2020-21 season, he played an important part in City’s journey to their first Champions League final.

9. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

One of the top African players to grace the Premier League is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. He joined Arsenal on 31 January 2018 for a then-club-record fee of £56 million.

His debut season in 2018-2019 was outstanding, as he won the Premier League Golden Boot. Aubameyang made his debut on 3 February 2018, scoring in a 5-1 win against Everton.

He continued to impress, scoring his first away goal in a match against Brighton & Hove Albion. He also showed his playmaking skills, assisting Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s goal in a 3-0 win over Watford.

Aubameyang became a fan favorite, scoring twice in a 3-0 victory over Stoke City. In Arsène Wenger’s last home game as Arsenal’s manager, Aubameyang scored twice and assisted a goal in a 5-0 win over Burnley. He ended the season with ten goals and four assists in thirteen games.

The following season, Aubameyang scored his first goal in a 3-2 win against Cardiff City and made his European debut, scoring twice against Vorskla Poltava.

By October 2018, he had the best minutes-per-goal ratio in Premier League history. Aubameyang became the first player to reach ten goals that season, including two goals and an assist in a 4-2 win over Tottenham.

Aubameyang also scored a hat-trick in a 4-2 win over Valencia, helping Arsenal reach the Europa League final.

He ended the season sharing the Premier League Golden Boot with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané, each scoring 22 goals.

In the 2019-2020 season, Aubameyang scored important goals, including the winner against Newcastle United and his first European goal of the season against Eintracht Frankfurt.

He was named Premier League Player of the Month in September. In November, he became Arsenal’s captain.

He scored important goals in the FA Cup, including both goals in the semi-final against Manchester City and the winning goal in the final against Chelsea, leading Arsenal to victory.

Aubameyang continued to score important goals, including his first Premier League hat-trick in February 2021 against Leeds United.

Despite some disciplinary issues in the 2021-2022 season, he remains one of Arsenal’s most memorable strikers. On 1 February 2022, Aubameyang left Arsenal by mutual consent.

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10. Emmanuel Adebayor

Emmanuel Adebayor

Emmanuel Adebayor is regarded as one of the best African players in Premier League history. It all started on 13 January 2006 when Arsenal signed him for £3 million.

Adebayor was nicknamed “Baby Kanu” because he resembled former Arsenal star Nwankwo Kanu, whom he idolized as a youth. Adebayor scored on his debut against Birmingham City on 4 February 2006.

One of his notable early achievements was scoring the winning goal against Manchester United at Old Trafford in the 2006–07 season, giving Arsenal a 1–0 victory.

Despite a few controversies, such as being sent off in the 2007 League Cup final, Adebayor’s talent was outstanding. During the 2007–08 season, Adebayor was exceptional.

He scored twice in the North London derby against Tottenham and netted his first hat-trick for Arsenal against Derby County.

Also, he ended the season with a second hat-trick against Derby, becoming the first player to score hat-tricks home and away against the same team in a single Premier League season.

His performance made him a place in the PFA Team of the Year and the BBC African Footballer of the Year award for 2008. In July 2009, Adebayor moved to Manchester City for around £25 million.

He continued his goal-scoring streak, netting in his first four matches, including a goal against his former club Arsenal.

His celebration in front of Arsenal fans, although controversial, highlighted his fiery passion. Adebayor later joined Tottenham Hotspur, initially on loan, where he continued to impress.

He scored on his debut and ended his first season as Tottenham’s top scorer with 18 goals. However, he signed permanently with Tottenham in August 2012, and despite some disciplinary issues, he was a key player, finishing as the club’s top scorer again in the 2013–14 season.

In January 2016, Adebayor joined Crystal Palace. Though his time there was brief, he scored a notable goal against Watford.