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Meet 7 Most Expensive Football Transfers Involving African Players

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The January transfer window is open which means clubs will be looking for players to bolster their squads for the second half of the season. It’s an exciting moment as some African players wil switch clubs in search of game time. These could be loans or permanent moves and could be costly or cheap deals. 

Over the years, some of the most expensive football transfers involved African players. In this post, we’ll list the most expensive African football transfers.

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Victor Osimhen

Victor Osimhen’s highlights. Video Credit: Goal Zone

The Nigerian surpassed Pepe as the most expensive African player. His move from Lille to Napoli cost $77 million, with the potential to rise to $88 million. He signed a five-year contract, and the club extended his deal to 2026. Osimhen has lived up to the expectation having finished the 2022/23 season as Serie A top scorer and was the 2023 CAF African Player of the Year.

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Nicolas Pepe

Highlights of Nicolas Pepe’s game at Arsenal. Video Credit: SiempreFutbolTV

Nicolas Pepe joins the list of the most expensive football transfers. His transfer to Arsenal in 2019 made him the most expensive African player at the time. The North London club paid French club Lille $80 million for the right winger. 

Fans expected a lot from Pepe and his transfer was compared to that of Eden Hazard because he also joined the Premier League from Lille. In 2023, he left the club for Turkish side Trabzonspor.

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Cedric Bakambu

spotcovery-cedric bakambu is one of the most expensive football transfers in Africa
Cedric Bakambu is participating in a MONUSCO Child Protection Unit campaign. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-SA-2.0

In 2018, the Congolese player left the Spanish club Villareal for the Chinese side Beijing Guoan. Villareal received $71 million for his transfer, which made Bakambu one of the most expensive football transfers among African players. He played there for two years and left for French club Marseille. Currently, Bakambu plays for Galatasary.

Riyad Mahrez

spotcover-Riyad Mahrez taking a free kick for Leicester, one of the most expensive football transfers in Africa
Riyad Mahrez taking a free kick. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-2.0

When the Algerian international left Leicester City for Manchester City, he joined the list of the most expensive football transfers from the continent. 

City paid $66 million for his services after an impressive campaign in 2016 that saw Leicester win a historic Premier League title. 

Mahrez was influential with his playmaking ability and performed extremely well under Pep Guardiola. He won all domestic and continental titles at City and left for Al Ahli Saudi.

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Pierre Emerick Aubameyang

spotcovery-Former Arsenal player Pierre Emerick Aubameyang
Former Arsenal player Pierre Emerick Aubameyang. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-SA-4.0

Aubameyang is one of the most expensive football transfers among African players. In 2018, he joined Arsenal from German side Borussia Dortmund for a fee of $60 million. The Gabonese was one of the best players in Dortmund having scored 98 goals in 144 games. 

Speed is one of his main qualities and made him fit well in Arsenal’s playing style. However, he’s always courted controversy where he’s been and that led to friction with Mikel Arteta before he departed from the club.

Naby Keita

Highlights of Naby Keita’s time at Liverpool. Video Credit: ddd

Naby Keita’s move from RB Leipzig came with a lot of fanfare and high fan expectations. His influence in Leipzig’s midfield caught the eye of Liverpool, who signed him for $58 million in 2018. However, his time at Anfield was underwhelming as he struggled to recreate his form. The Guinean left Liverpool for Werder Bremen in 2023.

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Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Highlights of Wan Bissaka’s career. Video Credit: FZ Football

His move from Crystal Palace to Manchester United was a surprising one. It cost United $50 million to get him to the club. Despite criticism from disgruntled fans, Bissaka has continuously received a starting position in the team and produced sufficient performance.  

These African footballers are the continent’s most expensive transfers. While some have been successful, others have struggled. Nonetheless, they continue to show the impact that African players have in world football. 

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Agnes Amondi
Agnes Amondi
Agnes Amondi is a sports enthusiast who enjoys sharing sports knowledge. Over the years, she has also written on different niches, and she now brings that experience at Spotcovery. She writes sports content and also, Arts & Culture, Recipe, Beauty and more.


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