Riyad Mahrez and Africa’s top ten most expensive players

Riyad Mahrez became the blockbuster African mover of the transfer window so far this week when he finally got his move away from Leicester City to join Manchester City in a high-profile Premier League switch.

The Algeria superstar, who won the title with the Foxes in 2016, moves for a £60 million fee, although while that places him high in the list of most expensive African deals, his move doesn’t break the continent’s record.

In this feature, KweséESPN runs down the top 10 most expensive African football transfers in history…updated in light of the ongoing transfer window.

10. Emmanuel Adebayor (Arsenal > Manchester City) – £25 million

The Togo forward is a divisive figure but did enough to convince Manchester City to part with £25 million to sign him back in 2009, making him Africa’s most expensive football player at the time.

‘Ade’ infamously taunted the Arsenal supporters after scoring against them in a 4-2 victory at the Etihad Stadium and netted 15 in the Super Lig with Istanbul Basaksehir last term.

9. Wilfried Bony (Swansea City > Manchester City) – £28 million

The Ivorian striker held the title of Africa’s most expensive football player for 18 months after moving from Swansea City to Manchester City at the beginning of 2015, although his switch to the Etihad Stadium will ultimately go down as a failure.

He ultimately returned to Swansea after failing to make his mark at the Etihad Stadium but was unable to prevent the Welsh side from dropping into the Championship last term.

Riyad Mahrez & Islam Slimani of Leicester City Michael Regan/Getty Images

8. Islam Slimani (Sporting Lisbon > Leicester City) – £29.5 million including add-ons

Leicester made headlines on deadline day in 2016 when they parted with an initial 30 million euros plus a further 5-million euros in add-ons to sign the Algeria forward from Sporting Lisbon.

Slimani was recruited to offer something a little different to Ahmed Musa and Jamie Vardy up front but struggled to establish himself during a troubled campaign for the reigning champions.

He was sent on loan to Newcastle United last term, and his future remains uncertain.

7. Eric Bailly (Villarreal > Manchester United) – £30 million

Jose Mourinho raised a few eyebrows when he identified Cote d’Ivoire defender Eric Bailly as the man to solve Manchester United’s defensive woes two years ago.

A £30 million transfer fee represented a major gamble for a 22-year-old, but the centre-back demonstrated his class during an excellent maiden campaign at Old Trafford.

He won both the League Cup and the Europa League during his maiden season with the Red Devils, but injuries have affected his progress since, and he made just 11 league starts last term.

Sadio Mane joined Liverpool from Southampton in 2016. Gareth Copley/Getty Images

6. Sadio Mane (Southampton > Liverpool) – £35 million

The Senegal international became the most expensive African football player in history when he swapped St Mary’s for Anfield in June 2016, moving for a cool £35 million transfer fee.

Mane perhaps wasn’t always consistent enough with Saints, although his explosive start to life with the Reds – notably a wondergoal against Arsenal on his league debut – suggested that it might be money well spent by Jurgen Klopp.

He soon proved to be an outstanding acquisition, and while injuries and a Nations Cup absence ultimately limited his influence, he still ended his maiden campaign with 13 goals in 27 outings, before scoring 20 across the Prem and the Champions League last season.

5. Mohamed Salah (AS Roma > Liverpool) – £36.9 million

The Reds broke the African transfer record they’d set 12 months earlier when they signed Salah from Roma for an initial fee of £36.9 million, although that price could rise to a whopping £43.9 million with add-ons.

Salah returned to the Premier League after struggling to assert himself at Chelsea after moving from FC Basel earlier in his career but proved he’s a changed man after successful stints with Fiorentina and Roma.

His first season back in England was remarkable, as the Egypt superstar won the Golden Boot after netting 32 goals during the campaign, duly breaking the record for goals scored in a 38-game season.

Salah also clinched the PFA, FWA and Premier League Player of the Year awards, making him a resounding success – and a bargain at the fee.

Naby Keita at Liverpool’s Melwood training ground. Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

4. Naby Keita (RasenBallsport Leipzig > Liverpool) – £52.75 million

Liverpool features prominently in this list, with Guinea international Keita being their highest entry.

He’s yet to feature for the Merseysiders, but Reds fans ought to be licking their lips in anticipation as the West African appears primed to become the cornerstone of their midfield.

Keita’s not the complete package – his discipline lets him down at times – but as an all-around box-to-box midfielder, he’s exceptional, representing the perfect marriage of tenacity and technical prowess.

3. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund > Arsenal) – £56 million

Despite being heavily linked with Real Madrid or the Chinese Super League, Auba ultimately opted to sign for Arsenal when he finally secured a move away from Borussia Dortmund.

He left as the reigning Bundesliga top scorer, having netted 31 goals during the 2016-17 season, before finding 13 in 16 last term before his move.

Admittedly, he moved to Arsenal during some tricky circumstances, with the club in the final throes of Arsene Wenger’s tenure, but 10 goals in 13 Prem outings represents an encouraging return for the lethal frontman.

Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez Michael Regan/Getty Images

2. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City > Manchester City) – £60 million

After a litany of transfer windows in which Mahrez has sought a move away from Leicester, the Algeria international finally got his wish when he secured a move to City.

He’d appeared close to a move to Pep Guardiola’s side in January, and will surely be keen to make up for lost time now that he’s secured a move to a genuine European giant.

While Mahrez’s achievements at Leicester are legendary, he’s largely fallen short of the offensive output he demonstrated during the 2016-17 season in recent campaigns.

If he can adapt to life at City – and enjoy enough game time amidst their galaxy of star attackers – then the next chapter of Mahrez’s career could be as exciting as the last.

1. Cedric Bakambu (Villarreal > Beijing Guoan) – £65 million

Despite being perhaps the player with the lowest profile on this list, Bakambu tops this ranking after Beijing Guoan opted to part with an eye-watering £65 million to recruit him from Villarreal.

The 27-year-old had netted nine in 15 in La Liga before securing his move to the Far East and quickly showcased his class in China with eight goals in his opening eight Super League outings.

According to BBC Sport, Bakambu is set to pocket an annual gross salary of 22 million.




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