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El Clasico: Ranking greatest Africans to play for Real Madrid or Barcelona

20:17 GMT+4 17/12/2019
Michael Essien Real Madrid
Who are the greatest African players to represent the two Spanish giants?

  • Mutiu Adepoju of Nigeria

    #10 Mutiu Adepoju

    Adepoju was a talented, versatile operator who enjoyed a long career in Spain after joining Real Madrid from Julius Berger in 1989.

    He featured regularly for Los Blancos’ B team during his three-year stint in the capital, but never advanced to the senior side.

    He would enjoy greater prominence with the likes of Racing and Real Sociedad, and was a key figure in Nigeria’s Golden Generation of the mid 1990s.

    Adepoju, who is currently an ambassador for La Liga, represented the Super Eagles at three World Cups and won the Nations Cup in 1994.

  • Alex Song Barcelona signing

    #9 Alex Song

    Song transferred, at the height of his powers, to Catalonia to join Barcelona from Arsenal.

    The box-to-box midfielder was indispensable for Arsene Wenger's Gunners, but it never quite worked out for Song in La Liga, and he subsequently returned to England on loan at West Ham United.

    He currently plays for Swiss side Sion following a spell with Rubin Kazan, and it's safe to say that his career hasn't lived up to the early promise of his pre-Barca years.

  • Emmanuel Amuneke of Nigeria

    #8 ​Emmanuel Amuneke

    During his playing career, the former Tanzania coach was a glittering wideman who enjoyed dismal fortune at Barcelona, where injuries completely shattered his career in Catalonia.

    The 1994 African Footballer of the Year scored twice in the Nations Cup final that year as Nigeria defeated Zambia, and also clinched honours in PortugalEgypt and in his homeland.

    Yet despite a clutch of honours won with Barca, it’s tempting to beg the question, what might Amuneke have become had injuries not taken their toll?

  • Emmanuel Adebayor Real Madrid

    #7 Emmanuel Adebayor

    Adebayor has been a fan favourite at every club he has played at, but he is also known for his controversial nature and at times it has overshadowed his excellence at some European giants.

    He made 143 appearances for Arsenal managing 62 goals, of which 30 came in the 2007/08 season, which remains his finest campaign. His brilliance flickered at Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, but he never truly looked the part during a brief loan spell with Real in 2011.

    He's currently a free agent after leaving Super Lig side Kayserispor.

  • Mahamadou Diarra of Real Madrid

    #6 Mahamadou Diarra

    Diarra doesn’t always get the credit he deserves for the consistent excellence he brought to the table at Real Madrid during his time at the Bernabeu.

    Between 2002 and 2008 the Mali international won six consecutive league titles with Olympique Lyonnais and then Real, helping the Spanish giants to end a four-year trophy drought with their championship triumph in 2006.

    Finally, largely thanks to Diarra’s positioning, awareness and sharp tackling, Los Merengues had a long overdue replacement for Claude Makelele.

  • Geremi Njitap of Real Madrid.

    #5 Geremi Njidap

    Geremi won two Premier League winner's medals under Jose Mourinho at Chelsea, to add to his significant honours haul won with Real Madrid.

    A hardworking-if modest-operator, the former Newcastle United midfielder was never a genuine Galactico at Real, but his attitude and leadership skills still set him apart, notably during two Champions League triumphs.

  • SEYDOU KEITA

    #4 Seydou Keita

    Keita is one of the most decorated African players in history, and he certainly achieved great success in Spain.

    He left Barcelona after four years, having won 14 trophies under Pep Guardiola and the Malian midfielder has been praised to the hilt by his former boss, who has long viewed the West African as a key component of his magnificent side.

    He last played for El Jaish of Qatar, leaving the club in 2017.

  • Michael Essien Jose Mourinho Real Madrid

    #3 Michael Essien

    A legend at Chelsea, where he managed 17 goals in 168 appearances and won a host of silverware, Essien moved to Real on loan for a season in 2012.

    By then, injuries had taken their toll on the Bison, although his class still convinced 'Daddy' Jose Mourinho that he could be an asset at the Bernabeu.

    Now 37, Essien represents Sabail FK of the Azerbaijan Premier League, where he is also the club's U-19 coach.

  • Yaya Toure Barcelona

    #2 Yaya Toure

    Toure was an integral part of a Barcelona squad that had begun to revolutionised how football was played throughout the world, winning the Champions League before leaving his teammates to enjoy greater success without him.

    The Ivorian was seen as a more defensive player by Pep Guardiola than he became Manchester City, and played in the holding role or in the defence, which was where he won the UCL in 2009.

    The four-time African Player of the Year was among the key inspirations behind City's recent rise to dominance, although he left the club under something of a cloud and currently represents Qingdao Huanghai in China.

  • Samuel Eto'o Barcelona 2009

    #1 Samuel Eto'o

    Not only is Eto’o one of Africa's finest frontmen, but one of the world's greatest strikers of all time.

    The Indomitable Lion led the line for five years at Barcelona, where he has an impressive collection of titles. In 232 games played for the Catalan giants, he won two Champions League titles, three La Ligas, one Copa del Rey and four other Spanish Cups.

    He also made decisive contributions at vital moments, and stands alone as the greatest African player to feature for either Barca or Real Madrid (whom he also represented briefly at the beginning of his career).