With the coronavirus-induced cash crisis engulfing football clubs this summer, teams across Europe will be hunting for some snip buys ahead of the commencement of the delayed 2020-2021 season because of the pandemic. Many top African names are on the radar of a number of different European clubs, and it could be a matter of time before deals for them are made.
Though various domestic leagues are at different points in their season cycle, with those left in European competition still playing matches in August, there could be a shift in the way transfers are approached, a contrast from how businesses were done in the past.
Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen became the first African to make a big-money move when he transferred to Napoli for €50m, but who are the other African players that can potentially make a move this summer?
10. Mohammed Salisu
After Mohammed Salisu announced his breakthrough with fine performances for Real Valladolid in La Liga last season, the Ghanaian defender hasn’t been out of the rumor mill, as a host of clubs in Spain and England have been on his trail.
Salisu left Ghana in 2017, joining Valladolid from the African Talent Football Academy. He made 13 league appearances for the Spanish side’s B Team in his first season and doubled the number of outings in 2018-19.
He continued his upward spiral with the Spanish outfit when he was drafted into the first team last season and he did not disappoint as he played 31 times in the La Liga, starting 30 of the games, scoring once and providing an assist as a starting center-back at Estadio José Zorrilla.
Salisu’s presence has been a major factor in the club’s resolute defensive displays, as shown by his impressive statistics from the 2019/20 campaign so far. The youngster’s positional ability has seen him block an average of 0.87 shots per 90mins (the tenth-best record in Spain’s top flight) and his 5.17 completed clearances per 90mins, are only bettered by six players.
With a reported release clause of just €12million, the defender has caught the eye of Atletico Madrid, Manchester United, Rennes, and Southampton. However, reports have it that the last two clubs have made huge headway in completing a deal for Salisu.
9. André Onana
Rarely do African goalkeepers blossom in European Clubs, but Cameroon has got a rich history of producing some really great ones. From Thomas N’kono to Carlos Kameni, it’s not surprising that André Onana has excelled since joining Ajax in 2016.
Onana is more aggressive in his position than most shot-stoppers, more positive when rushing off his line, and has shown to be superior with his feet, albeit playing with a different directive in his distribution.
Onana has been linked with a move away from the Johan Cruyff Arena with Chelsea, Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain reportedly interested in him.
But Chelsea have appeared more serious in recent days following a series of errors by their number one goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga who has been far from impressive, while veteran Willy Caballero has not really grabbed the first choice slot.
If Onana is convinced to return to Barca where he attended La Masia for five years before joining Ajax in 2015, he would be met with competition from Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and Brazil’s Neto, should the two goalkeepers remain with the La Liga giants.
At PSG, the experienced Keylor Navas and Sergio Rico would be in his way. Chelsea seems to be his best bet at the moment, and it will be really interesting if Chelsea takes a punt on the Cameroonian.
8. Saïd Benrahma
Very few persons had heard about the Algerian sensation Saïd Benrahma until his recent strings of fantastic performance with his club Brentford, helping reach the playoffs for a place in the Premier League, although they lost the promotion spot to Fulham.
Signed from Nice in 2018 for just £2.7million, the attacker was the best-kept secret outside the top flight. However, he isn’t anymore, with the winger taking the Championship by storm and is now widely recognized as the best footballer beyond the Premier League.
The Bees player, who’s valued around the £25million price mark, has been on target 17 times and provided four assists so far this term.
Benrahma’s penchant for playing on both wings of the final third has reportedly attracted the attention of Chelsea’s manager Frank Lampard’s club this season, while his versatility has also piqued the interest of Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa. Arsenal have also enquired about the Algerian.
However, with Brentford losing their Championship play-off game on Tuesday, the London club will be hoping to cash in on their prized asset having lost out on a huge windfall of money from failing to make it into the English Top flight.
7. Ismaël Bennacer
For a player who only made just one appearance for Arsenal between 2015 and 2017, it is rather fitting that he had to prove his mettle at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations for Algeria where he was voted the Best Player of the tournament, before Empoli and AC Milan took note of Ismaël Bennacer’s talent.
Bennacer has played a key role in Milan’s upturn in form, particularly since the resumption of the Serie A that was concluded last weekend. The 22-year-old played a huge part in helping the Italian Club to a 6th place finish, with the club going on a 13-game unbeaten streak in the process.
According to Calciomercato, Chelsea are interested in bringing him back to London, and could offer a cash-plus-player deal to secure their man.
AC Milan’s asking price of around £45m could prove an obstacle for the Blues, who have already spent big on Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech – with Kai Havertz also expected to sign imminently.
In terms of how he plays, he would be a great fit in Chelsea. How strong that interest is and whether Chelsea will make a move remains to be seen but it is certainly one worth keeping an eye on.
6. Ebere Eze
The Super Eagles of Nigeria have courted Queens Park Ranger’s attacking Midfielder, Ebere Eze for about a year now, and that’s because his precocious talent has mesmerized all and sundry in the English Championship.
A fantastic ball carrier that is press-resistant, the talented 22-year-old attacker has had an interesting career to date after being released by Millwall as a teenager. He landed at nearby Queens Park Rangers and was in fine form last season, recording 14 goals and eight assists in 46 Championship games.
Teams in the English Premier League have had their eyes on him for a while now, with West Ham United being one of the favorites to snap up his signature.
It has been suggested that Crystal Palace have had a bid rejected for the attacking midfielder. Meanwhile, former Hammers boss Slaven Bilic is reportedly hoping to take him to newly promoted side West Brom.
Eze looks to have an incredibly bright future ahead of him. And given the reports, it looks inevitable that he will be playing in the Premier League next season.