Records are tumbling during the transfer window as clubs across the world spend big in order to bolster their squads for the challenges to come.
Neymar’s shocking move to Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona for an eye-watering €222 million deal made headlines around the world, smashing the world transfer record, and there’s still much more business to be done before the window closes at the beginning of September.
From an African perspective, there have also been some significant movers, but have any of them broken into the continent’s top ten biggest moves in history?
In this feature, Kwesé ESPN runs down the top 10 most expensive African football transfers ever…updated in light of the ongoing transfer window.
9. Didier Drogba (Marseille > Chelsea) & Yaya Toure (Barcelona > Manchester City) – £24 million
Perhaps the two outstanding African football players in the history of the Premier League, Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure are tied in eighth place.
Drogba may have courted his controversy upon his arrival in England, but subsequently won four league titles and four FA Cups at Stamford Bridge, becoming one of the London club’s all-time greats.
Yaya is a two-time Premier League champion with the Citizens, and succeeded in winning Pep Guardiola around last term after initially appearing destined for the City exit door.
8. Michael Essien (Lyon > Chelsea) – £24.4 million
Some questioned Mourinho when he parted with an astonishing £24.4 million transfer fee to buy young midfielder Essien from Lyon, but after some teething problems – and rash challenges – at the start of his Chelsea career, the Bison ultimately came good in a big way.
He won the Champions League in 2012, although injury has affected the second half of his career.
7. Yannick Bolasie (Crystal Palace > Everton) – £24.5 million
The jury’s out on Bolasie, who on his day is a world beater but doesn’t always threaten consistently and is arguably not as good as the sum of his parts. He could be a devastating addition for Everton, but the transfer fee looked steep.
In truth, the Toffees are yet to see the best of the Democratic Republic of Congo wideman after he suffered a devastating injury early in his Toffees career. He’s yet to return, but will find a very changed landscape at Goodison Park when he does get back to full fitness.
6. Emmanuel Adebayor (Arsenal > Manchester City) – £25 million
The Togo forward isn’t to everyone’s liking, but he certainly piqued the interest of Manchester City back in 2009 when they spent £25 million to make him Africa’s most expensive football player. ‘Ade’ infamously taunted the Arsenal supporters after scoring against them in a 4-2 victory at the Etihad Stadium.
He currently plays for Istanbul Basaksehir in the Super Lig.
5. Wilfried Bony (Swansea City > Manchester City) – £28 million
The Ivorian striker held the title of Africa’s most expensive football player for 18 months after moving from Swansea City to Manchester City at the beginning of 2015, although his switch to the Etihad Stadium will ultimately go down as a failure.
He moved to Stoke City on loan on deadline day last season and, having wholly failed to hit his top form, his future remains uncertain.
4. Islam Slimani (Sporting Lisbon > Leicester City) – £29.5 million including add-ons
Leicester made headlines on deadline day when they parted with an initial 30 million euros plus a further 5-million euros in add-ons to sign the Algeria forward from Sporting Lisbon.
Slimani was to offer something a little different to Ahmed Musa and Jamie Vardy up front, but struggled to make his mark during a difficult campaign for the reigning champions.
He’ll be hoping that, in a settled context this term, he can enjoy greater success, although the Foxes’ signing of Kelechi Iheanacho places a significant obstacle in his path.
3. Eric Bailly (Villarreal > Manchester United) – £30 million
Jose Mourinho raised a few eyebrows when he identified Cote d’Ivoire defender Eric Bailly as the man to solve Manchester United’s defensive woes last summer, and while a £30 million transfer fee represented a major gamble for a 22-year-old, he demonstrated his class during an excellent maiden campaign at Old Trafford.
There’s much more to come from the centre-back, who has the potential to become one of the Premier League’s best in his position.
2. Sadio Mane (Southampton > Liverpool) – £35 million
The Senegal international became the most expensive African football player in history when he swapped St Mary’s for Anfield in June 2016, moving for a cool £35 million transfer fee.
Mane perhaps wasn’t always consistent enough with Saints, although his explosive start to life with the Reds – notably a wondergoal against Arsenal on his league debut – suggested that it might be money well spent by Jurgen Klopp.
He soon proved to be an outstanding acquisition, and while injuries and a Nations Cup absence ultimately limited his influence, he still ended the campaign with 13 goals in 27 outings.
1. Mohamed Salah (AS Roma > Liverpool) – £36.9 million
The Reds broke the African transfer record they’d set 12 months earlier when they signed Salah from Roma for an initial fee of £36.9 million, although that price could rise to a whopping £43.9 million with add-ons.
Salah returns to the Premier League after struggling to assert himself at Chelsea after moving from FC Basel earlier in his career, but he’s a changed man after successful stints with Fiorentina and Roma.
Can he now translate his form from the Italian top flight to England, and prove that he’s learned his lessons following his previous failed stint in London.