This year has been great for African soccer players. Gone are the days African footballers were a peripheral part of the team. Now, they play major roles and contribute to the success of their teams. Fans chant their names with pride. However, choosing the top 20 African Soccer Players to watch in 2019 is a daunting experience. This is because there is a long list of young African players pacing rapidly to the peak of their career. Notwithstanding, we managed to put together a list of 20 African Soccer Players to watch in 2019 based on their CAF rating, market value according to Transfer Markt as well as their club and national performances and age.
#1 – Mohammed Salah (Egypt)
Egyptian Premier League legend, Mohamed Salah comfortably sits on the top of the list of top 20 African Soccer Players to watch in 2019. Born June 15, 1992, Salah is considered one of the best players in the world and Liverpool’s top scorer. Salah kicked off his international club career with Basel in 2010. In 2014, he joined Chelsea for £11 million. Salah won the African Footballer of the year in 2017 and 2018. Other recent awards to his name are Player of the year (Liverpool 17/18), English Champion (Chelsea FC 2015), and Top Scorer (Liverpool FC 17/18). Salah is one of the three forwards on The Africa Best 11. Salah’s market value is €150 million. Salah is famous for his speed, dribbling, and impeccable finishing.
#2 – Sadio Mane (Senegal)
The 27-year-old Senegalese winger is currently rated number 2 in Liverpool and number 1 in Senegal. His career began in Metz, France before being transferred to Red Bull Salzburg in 2012. He joined Liverpool in 2016 for £34 million. This made him the most expensive African footballer at that time. However, besides club success Mane is a key figure in the national team with 60 caps. Mane is also one of the forwards in The Africa Best 11. His market value is €85 million.
#3 – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)
The 29-year-old Gabonese striker is one of the hottest sensations in the English Premier League. Following a brilliant performance at A.C Milan Youth-setup, Aubameyang was promoted in 2008 into the first team. However, his move to Arsenal in 2018 was a club-record worth €64 million. Aubameyang completes the top 3 strikers on The Africa Best 11. In 2015 he won the African Footballer of the Year. He also won the German Cup in the following year with Borussia Dortmund. He was also the top scorer of the season (16/17). Aubameyang’s market value is €75 million.
#4 – Kalidou Koulibaly (Senegal)
The 27-year-old Senegalese center back has a market value of €70 million. Consequently, this makes him one of the most expensive defenders in the world. Koulibaly is also one of the four defenders on The Africa Best 11. Like Mane, Koulibaly began his professional career in Metz in 2010. Four years later he moved to Napoli. However, he made Senegalese senior team debut in 2015. Subsequently, he was part of the 2018 World Cup team. Koulibaly won Senegal Player of the Year in 2017 and 2018. These accomplishments earn him number 4 spot on top 20 African Soccer Players.
#5 – Naby Keita (Guinea)
The 24-year old Guinean central midfielder began his professional career in 2013 with FC Istres. However, the following year he moved to Red Bull Salzburg. In the same year, he won the Austrian Cup and Austrian Football Bundesliga. He currently plays for Liverpool and captains the Guinea national team. He won CAF Team of the Year 2018. Currently valued at €65 million, Naby is one of The African Best 11 midfielders.
#6 – Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)
The 6th on the list of top 20 African Soccer Players to watch is Algerian winger, Riyad Mahrez. The 28-year-old has a market value of €60 million. He was the African Footballer of the Year in 2016. In the same year, he won the English Champion with Leicester City. Mahrez was also the player of the year in Leicester (15/16). The Algeria skipper came to limelight in 2014 after signing for Leicester City. Subsequently, he joined Manchester City in 2018. The two-time Algerian Footballer of the Year winner is also on The Africa Best 11 list.
#7 – Thomas Partey (Ghana)
The 25-year old Ghanaian and Atletico Madrid defensive midfielder is worth €50 million. Partey signed for Atletico Madrid in 2011. However, following unsuccessful spells to break into the first team, he was loaned to RCD Mallorca and then UD Almeria. He returned to Atletico in 2015 and has remained a regular. In 2018, Partey won UEFA Super Cup and CAF Team of the Year. Partey is also a midfielder for Africa Best 11.
#8 – Hakim Ziyech (Morocco)
The 26-year-old Moroccan and Ajax midfielder is famous for his free-kick ability, speed, and finishing. Ziyech professional career began in 2012 with Heerenveen. However, he had to wait until the following year to score his first goal. The versatile attacking midfielder won the Best Moroccan Player in 2016. In 2017-18 he was the AFC Ajax Player of the Year. The following year he won the Golden Boot as the Dutch Footballer of the Year. The midfielder is worth €35 million. Ziyech may not be on the Africa Best 11 but he has earned a spot on the top 20 African Soccer Players to watch in 2019.
#9 – Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast)
The 26-year-old Ivorian forward currently plays for Crystal Palace. Zaha is Alex Ferguson’s last signing before his retirement. Following an unsuccessful spell at Manchester United, Zaha joined Crystal Palace on loan. With a current market value of €35 million, the valuable forward has a lot of individual honors. However, his recent achievement is Premier League Player of the Month for April 2018. For three consecutive seasons, Zaha has remained Crystal Palace Player of the Year. Consequently, his inclusion on the top 20 African Soccer Players to watch is well-deserved.
#10 – Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria)
Like Ziyech and Zaha, the 22-year-old Nigerian and Leicester City midfielder is worth €35 million. Ndidi began his professional career with Genk. In 2015. His most memorable moment in the Belgian Pro League was scoring a long-range goal. The goal was later judged as the ‘goal of the season’. However, he moved to Leicester the following year for £17 million. Ndidi is a force to reckon with in the Super Eagles’ midfield.
#11 – Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast)
Born April 12, 1994, the center-back has been a sensation since making his professional debut in Espanyol. However, after spending 5 years in the Spanish league, Bailly signed for Manchester United in 2016. The Ivorian and Manchester United player is also one of the defenders on The Africa Best 11 list. His most prominent career achievement is three times CAF Team of the Year (2016, 2017, and 2018). Currently worth €35 million, Bailly is one of the top 20 African Soccer Players to watch.
#12 – Achraf Hakimi (Morocco)
Just 20 years but Achraf Hakimi already has an impressive career. The Madrid and Moroccan defender is also versatile, alternating between left-back and central defender. Hakimi has been with the Real Madrid youth setup since 2006. However, he made his professional debut for Los Blancos in 2016. Hakimi won 2017-18 UEFA Champions League with Real Madrid. Consequently, he was named 2018’s CAF Youth Player of the Year. Hakimi is worth €35 million.
#13 – Jean Michael Seri (Ivory Coast)
Seri is another player that has worked his way to the top 20 African Soccer Players. The 27-year-old Ivorian and Fulham central midfielder is also worth €35 million. Seri began his professional football career in 2010 with ASEC Mimosas. His most remarkable quality is ball control. He joined Fulham in 2018. In 2017 he won OGC Nice Player of the Year and Prix Marc-Vivien Foé.
#14 – Yacine Brahimi (Algeria)
The nifty Yacine Brahimi plays as an attacking midfielder and winger. The Algerian and Porto playmaker is worth €26 million. The 29-year-old began his professional career with Rennes. Brahimi has an intimidating individual record. However, his most promising year was 2014. Some of the awards he won that year are; best Algerian athletes of the year, Algerian Ballon d’Or, DZFoot d’Or, CAF Most Promising Talent of the Year, BBC African Footballer of the Year, and LFP Awards Best African player.
#15 – Victor Wanyama (Kenya)
Kenyan and Tottenham Hotspur’s Victor Wanyama may not be the most expensive African player but he deserves a spot on the list of top 20 African Soccer Players to watch in 2019. Wanyama current market value is €25 million but the 27-year-old still has a promising career. He holds the record as the first Kenyan player to score in the UEFA Champions League. The energetic player also won SPL Young Player of the Year (2012–13).
#16 – Serge Aurier (Ivory Coast)
The 26-year-old Ivorian and Tottenham Hotspur right-back is also a defender on Africa Best 11. Aurier launched his professional career with Lens of France. However, he joined Tottenham Hotspur in 2017 for £23 million. Now worth €20 million, the defender has lots of honors to his name. This includes winning the Africa Cup of Nations in 2015.
#17 – Nabil Bentaleb (Algeria)
Bentaleb is a creative midfielder. The 24-year-old plays for Algeria and Schalke 04. He started his professional career with Tottenham Hotspur in 2013. However, he was loaned to Schalke 04 in 2016. His goal against Augsburg was named Bundesliga Goal of the Season (2016-17). Bentaleb’s current market value is €20 million.
#18 – Joel Matip (Cameroon)
Born August 8, 1991, the Cameroon and Liverpool center back deserves a place on the top 20 African Soccer Players to watch. Born in Germany, Matip began his professional career with Schalke 04. However, he moved to Liverpool in 2016 on a free transfer. It was with Schalke 04 that he won DFL-Supercup in 2011. Matip’s current market value is €20 million.
#19 – Idrissa Gueye (Senegal)
The 29-year-old Senegalese and Everton defensive midfielder is also worth €20 million. Gueye began his professional career with Lille in 2008. However, he got into the first team in the 2010-11 season. He has scored important goals for his club and country. He also won Ligue 1 (2010-11) with Lille OSC.
#20 – Medhi Benatia (Morocco)
Benatia is not only the oldest but also the player with the least market value on the list of top 20 African Soccer Players to watch. However, his club and individual records also earned him a spot on The Africa Best 11. The 32-year-old Moroccan and Al-Duhail center back began his professional career at Marseille. His last top flight football was with Juventus (2016-19). Among his numerous awards are two times Mars d’Or (Best Moroccan Player) and Globe Soccer Awards Best Arab Player of the Year. Benatia is worth €15 million.
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