Top 10 Best African players in Premier League history

Many have won both collective trophies and individual accolades joining the list of Best African players in the Premier League.

Avignyan Mukhopadhyay
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The continent of Africa has supplied hundreds of footballers to the Premier League since its inception in 1992, and many have won both collective trophies and individual accolades joining the list of Best African players in the Premier League.

But who are the Top 10 Best African players in Premier League history over the last 30 years?

10. Wilfried Zaha

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Raised in London but born in the Ivory Coast, Zaha initially threw his lot in with England at international level, before switching allegiance to the West African nation in 2017. The Crystal Palace talisman actually represented Manchester United and Cardiff in the top flight before his boyhood club, to whom he returned after a year away in 2014.

Zaha has been Palace's key man since then, to the extent that many deem him the most crucial player to any team in the division. It may not have been his choice to remain in South London as long as he has - but Eagles fans are ecstatic that he has. 

9. Jay-Jay Okocha

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A freebie from PSG in 2002, Okocha spent four years with Sam Allardyce's Bolton in a remarkable era for the Trotters. A team which also boasted players like Youri Djorkaeff and Ivan Campo transformed the club from relegation candidates to European challengers, with Allardyce's side finishing in the top eight for four successive seasons and reaching the last 32 of the UEFA Cup.

Okocha wowed Bolton fans with plenty of glorious memories – a corking winning goal against West Ham in 2003, two stunning free-kicks in the 2004 League Cup semi-final and various mesmerising tricks to bamboozle opponents across the division.

8. Nwankwo Kanu

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After winning three successive Eredivisie titles and the 1995 Champions League with Ajax, Kanu endured three miserable seasons at Inter. A £4.15m move to Arsenal in 1999 proved exceptional value; the gangly Nigerian forward played 197 times for the Highbury club, helping them to two Premier League titles and two FA Cups.

Moving on to West Brom and then Portsmouth, he helped the south coast side win the 2008 FA Cup, scoring the only goal in the final against Cardiff. Even so, his finest individual moment was a 15-minute hat-trick at Chelsea which helped the Gunners turn a 2-0 deficit into a famous victory.

7. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

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If this ranking was based on ability alone, Aubameyang would be much higher up the list. The Gabon international remains one of Europe's deadliest marksmen, as he demonstrated in scoring 68 Premier League goals during his time at Arsenal.

Yet despite having delivered plenty of goals, and captaining the club to FA Cup glory in 2020, Auba's legacy at Arsenal was tarnished by the manner of his exit. Back in the Premier League with Chelsea, Aubameyang will look to prove his doubters wrong. 

6. Riyad Mahrez

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Mahrez was a major player in the biggest shock in English football history, helping Leicester win the title in 2015/16 and becoming the first Algerian to scoop a Premier League medal in the process. The PFA Player of the Year award was worthy recognition for a return of 17 goals in 37 appearances.

Since joining Manchester City, he's become one of the most reliable players in the world, with a world-class first touch and an electric ability to cut in from the right and make something happen for Pep Guardiola's side. He's gone from a thrilling outlier season at Leicester to outstanding consistency - and he's just fantastically fun to watch, too.

5. Michael Essien

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Should your local pub quiz ever pop the question, "Which African was the first to win Chelsea's Player of the Year award and won the club's Goal of the Season gong twice in three years?", the entire pub would scribble down "Didier Drogba". Except it wasn't. Chelsea's record signing when he joined from Lyon for £24.4m back in 2005, Essien bagged both personal trophies in 2007, winning the goal prize again two years later.

His career in England came to an end when injuries began to take their toll, but in nine hugely successful seasons Essien helped Chelsea to two league titles, four FA Cups and the Champions League. Not just one of the Premier League's best Africans, but one of its best midfielders.

4. Sadio Mane

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Mane improved season on season since joining Southampton from Salzburg in summer 2014. After two creditable campaigns on the south coast, the Senegalese speedster joined Liverpool – but not before scoring the quickest-ever Premier League hat-trick, in two minutes and 56 seconds against Aston Villa.

Mane continued his fine form with Jurgen Klopp's side, winning their Player of the Year award having netted 13 times in 27 Premier League outings during 2016/17.

He later became one of three in the most iconic modern frontline in recent memory alongside Salah and Roberto Firmino at Anfield. Mane received a fond farewell when he left for Bayern Munich in 2022.

3. Yaya Toure

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After joining his brother Kolo at Manchester City in 2010, Yaya notched eight goals and eight assists in his first season in England. He went on to net 59 top-flight goals, as well as bagging crucial goals in City's FA Cup run of 2011/12, helping the club to its first trophy in 35 years.

At his peak during the 2013/14 campaign, Toure scored 24 times to lead City to a second Premier League title. He won a third crown in 2017/18 despite falling out of favour under Pep Guardiola, but at his best he was one of the most dominant midfield forces in Premier League history.

2. Didier Drogba

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The Ivorian striker initially struggled following his £24m move from Marseille in summer 2004, but was regarded as one of the club's greatest ever players by the time he left Chelsea after his first spell. Drogba scored 157 goals in 341 matches and was colossal as the Blues beat Bayern Munich to win their first ever Champions League trophy in 2012.

The striker returned to west London for a season in 2014/15, winning a fourth Premier League title to add to his collection of four FA Cups and three League Cups. Drogba goes down as a defining centre-forward in Premier League tactical history; combining power with grace, he was a one-man forward line whose presence helped create midfield dominance.

1. Mohamed Salah

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It's fair to say Salah's first spell in the Premier League didn't go to plan. Acquired from Basel in January 2014, he made just 13 appearances for Chelsea in the top flight before being shipped off to Serie A. Three successful seasons with Fiorentina and Roma convinced Liverpool to bring Salah back to English shores for £37m – a fee which now looks like an incredible bargain.

Salah hit the ground sprinting at Anfield, producing one of the most outstanding individual campaigns in Premier League history with 32 goals in 36 outings. He has continued in that vein ever since.

Salah has become more than a talisman: he is one of few players in the league capable of turning games on his own, conjuring moments of magic on a regular basis. He's unstoppable. He's inevitable. And he's not finished yet...

This completes the Top 10 Best African players in Premier League history, follow Sportz Point.

Premier League Pierre Emerick Aubameyang Sadio Mane Didier Drogba