Africa has undeniably made its mark on the Premier League throughout the years, with several unforgettable moments and exceptional players hailing from the continent. From Tony Yeboah’s remarkable tenure at Leeds United to Riyad Mahrez’s stunning Premier League title triumph with Leicester City, Africa has left an indelible imprint on English football’s top flight. The recent seasons have witnessed continued success for African players, contributing significantly to Liverpool’s enduring popularity among fans and African online betting sites. But who are the standout African players that have left their mark at Anfield during the Premier League era? Let’s explore their remarkable contributions.
There are potentially few more successful African stars in the history of European football than Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian first arrived in the Premier League in 2014 after signing for Chelsea from FC Basel. However, he was quickly moved on after a disappointing stay at Stamford Bridge. But, he certainly showcased his talent on his return to the English top flight after moving back to the division with Liverpool.
During his stay with the Reds, he has scored an incredible 137 goals in 218 league matches and has vindicated the club-record fee spent on the star. In his first season at the club, he set the record for the most Premier League goals netted in a single campaign before helping Liverpool to the Champions League final. However, in his following two seasons, he would create a formidable relationship with Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino, which would see the club achieve European success, as well as winning the English top-flight title for the first time in 30 years.
Mohamed Salah’s extraordinary individual displays on the field have not gone unnoticed, as he has been duly recognized with prestigious accolades, solidifying his position as one of the Middle East’s top athletes. The Egyptian superstar has claimed the esteemed title of PFA Players’ Player of the Year not once but twice, in addition to being crowned the Premier League Player of the Season.
Adding to his already illustrious career, Salah etched his name in Anfield’s record books in 2023 by surpassing the legendary Robbie Fowler as Liverpool’s all-time leading scorer in the Premier League. This remarkable achievement only further cements Salah’s status as a true icon in the history of the club.
Sadio Mane is another star who has played for Liverpool throughout one of their most successful periods in recent history. The Reds signed the Senegal captain for a reported fee of £34 million in 2016, making him the most expensive African player in history. Mane was a cult hero at Anfield throughout his career, as he played his role in one of the most dynamic forward lines in top-flight history.
Mane would play a key role in helping Liverpool reach back-to-back Champions League finals in 2018 and 2019, with the Reds able to land victory after seeing off Tottenham in the latter. In the following season, he would end the campaign as the Premier League’s top goalscorer as the Reds ended their 30-year wait for a top-flight title. Mane continued to set records throughout his stay at Liverpool, as he netted his 100th league goal in October 2021, becoming the third African player to reach that landmark.
His performances would also see him come close to winning the illustrious Ballon d’Or on two occasions, as he finished fourth in the voting in 2019, before finishing second overall in 2022. However, his stay at Anfield finally came to an end after a near-miss in terms of winning the quadruple, as he signed a deal with Bayern Munich in June 2022.
El Hadji Diouf
One of the first influential stars to have played for Liverpool came in the form of El Hadji Diouf. The Senegalese star signed for the Anfield Giants after impressing his nation throughout the 2022 World Cup. Diouf was one of two Senegalese players to sign for the Reds during that summer window, with Salif Diao also completing the move to Merseyside.
The forward signed for the Premier League giants in a £10 million move from Lens, and Gerard Houllier hoped that the player would help the club overcome Arsenal in the race for the title. He impressed on debut at Anfield, as he scored twice in a 3-0 win against Southampton, before later starring in Liverpool’s victory over Manchester United in the League Cup final.
However, Diouf wouldn’t net again in the Premier League until March 2003 against Bolton. Discipline would become a huge issue for the player throughout the 2003-04 season, he failed to find the back of the net in the Premier League and was yellow carded 13 times and sent off once. His spell at Anfield came to an end in 2004, but he would enjoy stints in the Premier League with Bolton, Sunderland, and Leeds United.
There have been some excellent African players to have played for Liverpool throughout their careers, and there is a clear pathway for aspiring players to achieve their dream of playing for the Anfield club. But, future stars will need to go to enormous lengths to exceed the achievements reached by players such as Salah and Mane.