Africans in the EPL
By Stanley Kwenda
If the start of the season is anything to go by, then this could be a very special campaign for Africans playing in the English Premier League.
It set an explosive pace which was always going to be difficult to maintain, but even four games into the new season, 18 of the total 99 goals scored have come from Africans.
Now, after a flurry of activity before the transfer window closed on 1 September, there are even more players from the continent who will be getting in on the action in England.
A total of 45 Africans play the Premier League, with representation in 17 of the 20 clubs. That’s up from the 37 in the 2014-2015 season.
But disappointingly perhaps for their legions of fans on the continent, Manchester United and Arsenal have no African players in their ranks at all.
Key new arrivals:
Ayew, who joined Swansea from French Ligue 1 side Marseille
His compatriot Baba Rahman, who moved to Chelsea from Bundesliga side Augsburg
Senegalese defender Papy Djilobodji, who also joined the Blues, from Ligue 1 side Nantes
DR Congo striker Dieumerci Mbokani, who moved to Norwich from Ukraine’s domestic champions Dynamo Kyiv
DR Congo’s Chancel Mbemba , who joined Newcastle from Belgian side Anderlecht
Ivory Coast’s Max Gradel, who joined Bournemouth from Ligue 1 side Saint-Etienne
Who tops the EPL table for most
Crystal Place with five:
Yannick Bolasie (DR Congo)
Pape Souare (Senegal)
Marouane Chamakh (Morocco)
Kwesi Appiah (Ghana)
Bakary Sako (Mali)
Crystal Palace have a strong history in Africa which dates back to the 1990s. It was the first British club to visit South Africa in the last years of apartheid.
The African influence at the club can also be attributed to manager Alan Pardew. He is a huge fan of African talent, even drawing criticism when he was at Newcastle for signing too many African players. He defended himself by saying that English players were overpriced.
Chelsea are in second spot, with four:
John Obi Mikel (Nigeria)
Bertrand Traore (Burkina Faso)
Baba Rahman (Ghana)
Papy Djilobodji (Senegal)
The Blues have a strong Africa tradition which dates back to the time when legends like George Weah, Celestine Babayaro and others were on their books.
That was even before Didier Drogba became the club’s talisman.
Chelsea shares the spot with West Ham, who also have four African players:
Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal)
Diafra Sakho (Senegal)
Victor Moses (Nigeria)
Alex Song (Cameroon).
West Ham have a strong history of signing African players, dating back to 2000 when Guinea legend Titi Camara joined the club.
That affinity for African players with a high work-rate has continued with players such as prolific striker Diafra Sakho and combative midfielder Cheikhou Kouyate.
Newcastle United are in third spot with three:
Papiss Cisse (Senegal)
Cheick Tiote (Ivory Coast)
Chancel Mbemba (DR Congo).
African players have served Newcastle well since the time of Nigerian veteran Celestine Babayaro, who left Chelsea to join the Magpies in 2005.
Since then the club has had successive generations of African players and that streak has continued to today. Former coach Alan Pardew brought most of the current crop of players to the club.
Other teams to share the spot with Newcastle United include Norwich City:
Sebastien Bassong (Cameroon)
Youssouf Mulumbu (DR Congo)
Dieumerci Mbokani (DR Congo).
Adlene Guedioura (Algeria)
Allan Nyom (Cameroon)
Odion Ighalo (Nigeria).
Christian Atsu (Ghana)
Tokelo Rantie (South Africa)