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African All Stars

Picking the decade's best African player in each major league

18:49 GMT+3 29/12/2019
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang & Yaya Toure
Goal’s Ed Dove picks his outstanding African player in each major European league over the last 10 years

  • Yaya Toure Manchester City

    Premier League: Yaya Toure

    Despite the exploits of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Riyad Mahrez, no one could knock Toure off top spot here.

    Between 2011 and 2015, Toure was comfortably the finest African player on the planet, enjoying immense success with Manchester City while also winning the Africa Cup of Nations with the Ivory Coast.

    He was the key protagonist as City ended their 35-year wait for a major honour by scoring the only goal of the FA Cup semi-final and final in 2011, and then played a key role in the club’s Premier League success a year later.

    In the 2013-14 season, he scored a mammoth 20 goals from the centre of the midfield—a mammoth return—and won further Premier League titles that season and in the 2017-18 campaign under Pep Guardiola.

  • Kalidou Koulibaly Napoli

    Serie A: Kalidou Koulibaly

    Koulibaly is currently in the midst of his sixth season at Napoli, where he has established himself as one of the finest central defenders in the world game.

    The Partenopei never managed to usurp Juventus from top spot in the league standings, but they have been the Old Lady’s closest rivals in recent years, with Koulibaly critical to their rise in prominence.

    He improved dramatically under Maurizio Sarri, and has made the division’s Team of the Year for four consecutive years between 2015 and 2019.

    For context, only Kevin-Prince Boateng, Kwadwo Asamoah and Medhi Benatia have made the Serie A Dream Team during that period, and they only managed it once each!

  • Serge Aurier PSG

    Ligue 1: Serge Aurier

    Aurier gets the nod ahead of a whole host of other contenders, with the likes of Gervinho, Nicolas Nkoulou, Jean Michael Seri and Nicolas Pepe all impressing in the French top flight over the last 10 years.

    Aurier twice made the division’s Team of the Year during his time with Paris Saint-Germain, with whom he was a French champion in 2015 and 2016.

    Admittedly, the Ivorian’s time in the capital ended in acrimony, but not before he’d won three French Cups, three French League Cups and various other minor honours.

    Before moving to PSG, he emerged as one of the most exciting wide defenders in Europe while at Toulouse, and was also an Afcon winner with the Ivory Coast in 2015.

  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of Borussia Dortmund

    Bundesliga: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

    He may have never won the Bundesliga title, but Aubameyang ends the decade as one of German football’s most feared marksman of the last 10 years, behind only Robert Lewandowski.

    Indeed, the Gabon superstar actually pipped the Bayern Munich frontman to the top scorer award in the 2016-17 season, when he netted a whopping 31 goals.

    Auba made the division’s Team of the Year in 2016-17—a year after he was Player of the Year—and was a German Cup winner in 2017.

    By the time of his move to Arsenal in early 2018, he’d scored 98 goals in 144 Bundesliga outings with BVB.

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  • Seydou Keita Lionel Messi Barcelona Zaragoza 10252009

    La Liga: Seydou Keita

    It hasn’t been a vintage year for African players in La Liga, following the exploits of the likes of Samuel Eto’o, Freddie Kanoute and Mahamadou Diarra during the first ten years of the Millennium.

    With the likes of Michael Essien and Emmanuel Abebayor only briefly gracing the top flight, this one boiled down to Mali’s Keita and Thomas Partey of Atletico Madrid.

    The former got the nod in virtue of the two La Liga titles he won at the start of the decade with Barcelona, as Keita clinched the championship in both 2010 and 2011 as part of Pep Guardiola’s magnificent side.

    He also clinched the Copa del Rey in 2012, won a pair of Spanish Super Cups, and was a Champions League winner in 2011.

    Having earlier featured in Spain for Sevilla, he returned for a brief spell at Valencia in 2014, but retired after leaving El Jaish of Qatar in 2017.