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Africa’s star shining brighter than ever in Premier League

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Nigeria and Arsenal winger Alex Iwobi - sportsleo.com

In a league considered by many to be the best, or at least the most competitive in world football, three of the four contenders for the Golden Boot – Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, are African-born strikers.

With just one round of fixtures to go in the English Premier League (EPL), Liverpool’s 26-year-old Egyptian marksman Salah is in pole position with 22 goals.

His club-mate Sadio Mane, the Senegalese attacking midfielder, is tied for second spot with 20 goals, together with Arsenal and Gabon striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Manchester City’s Argentina forward Sergio Aguero is also on 20, and is the only non-African born player in the top four. England duo Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling on tied in fifth place with 17 goals.

Mane and Salah (if passed fit after a recent knock against Newcastle United), will be hoping to help Liverpool win the Premiership title by beating Wolverhampton Wanderers on Sunday, although Manchester City have a one-point advantage and will be crowned champions if they claim maximum points away at Brighton.

In a league in which massive television rights enable clubs to pay huge sums to attract many of the best players from around the world, the African trio’s exploits at the top of the goal-scoring standings is nothing short of sensational.

In general, African footballers – both those born in Africa and those born in Europe to African parents – have become increasingly influential across the biggest leagues in Europe over the past 15 years.

To put recent achievements into perspective, the first time an African-born striker made the top-10 scorer’s list was only in the 12th season of the Premier League’s existence (2003/ 2004), when Nigerian targetman Ayegbeni Yakubu ended joint sixth after scoring 16 times for Portsmouth.

Yakubu went on to claim fourth, ninth, eighth and fifth spot on the goal-scorer’s charts over the next four consecutive seasons, before Ivorian forward Didier Drogba became the first African to win the Golden Boot in England, with 20 goals for Chelsea in the 2006/ 07 campaign.

Second that season was a South African, Benni McCarthy, who banged in 18 goals for Blackburn Rovers, one more than Cristiano Ronaldo netted for Manchester United.

A year later, Togo’s Emmanuel Adebayor ended in joint second with 24 goals for Arsenal, before Drogba won his second Golden Boot with 29 league goals for Chelsea in the 2009/ 10 campaign.

Subsequently, Adebayor (twice), Peter Odemwingie of Nigeria, Papiss Cisse (Senegal), Yakubu, Demba Ba (Senegal), Wilfried Bony (Ivory Coast), Riyad Mahrez (Algeria, twice) and Odion Ighalo (Nigeria) have all made the top-10, before Salah won the award last season for Liverpool with 32 goals.

It’s also worth noting that several of the world’s most expensive footballers – Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe, Romelu Lukaku and Ousmane Dembele (all in the top-10 of the most costly transfers of all time) were born to African parents.

Of the 26 Golden Boot winners over the years, three have been African, two South American, nine from England, and 12 from various European countries.

In partnership with ANA and Mediapix

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