Which African All-Stars saved their careers with a reboot?

Aubameyang Kanu Prince BoatengGetty Images
  • Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Barcelona, La Liga 2021-22Getty

    Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

    After leading Arsenal to the FA Cup title, and having enjoyed an impressively consistent goals-to-games ratio during his early seasons in North London, there was hope that Aubameyang could inspire the Gunners back into the title picture under Mikel Arteta.

    Unfortunately, things unravelled last term, with the striker being stripped of the captaincy following a disciplinary issue, and consequently falling out with Arteta.

    The goals ran out as well, but Auba rediscovered his goalscoring form in style after a move to Barcelona, as he registered 11 goals in 17 La Liga outings.

    Can he make Arsenal further regret his departure in the years to come?

  • Mohamed Salah Liverpool 2021-22Getty Images

    Mohamed Salah

    During his time at Chelsea, there were glimpses of the player Salah might become, but in hindsight, it was clear he needed to move away in order to truly hit the heights.

    Would Salah have become anything like the devastating player he is today had he remained at Stamford Bridge, under Jose Mourinho’s tutelage, and become the Egyptian Andre Schurrle?

    A switch to Serie A, first to Fiorentina and then to AS Roma, revitalised Salah’s career, and after he returned to England with Liverpool, he truly became the superstar he is today.

  • Samuel Eto'o BarcelonaLaLiga

    Samuel Eto’o

    Many people forget that Eto’o—a Barcelona legend—once played for their eternal rivals Real Madrid.

    Eto’o signed for Real in 1997, but almost three years later, still having not broken into the Merengues’ first team he was loaned out to Real Mallorca.

    Admittedly, Real had the likes of Raul, Fernando Morientes and Nicolas Anelka on their books, and Eto’o could have been in danger of stagnating, but surely in the years to come, they must have regret letting Africa’s greatest player slip through their fingers.

  • Nwankwo Kanu

    Nwankwo Kanu

    Kanu’s whole career was put in jeopardy in 1996, when a medical examination at Internazionale revealed a significant heart condition.

    He missed the 1996-97 season, and while he did return to action in the next season, one goal in his next 12 league outings undermined Inter’s desire to stick with the Nigeria striker.

    Enter Arsenal, who employed Kanu for the next six years of his career, including two league titles, a run as an Invincible, and two FA Cups.

  • Stephane Mbia Gerard Deulofeu La Liga Sevilla Deportivo 05102014Getty Images

    Stephane Mbia

    Like a few other players on this list, Mbia’s greatest successes followed his most notable failure.

    He was particularly unpopular at Queens Park Rangers come the start of the 2013-14 season, having been part of the Hoops side that had been relegated—at one point tying his shoelace while the Londoners conceded a goal.

    Predictably, publicly petitioning Joey Barton—who had gone on loan to Olympique de Marseille as part of the deal that had taken Mbia to Loftus Road—to swap clubs again didn’t go down well with the club’s fans.

    However, a change of scene and a move to Sevilla changed the whole complexion of Mbia’s career, with the Cameroon international going on to win two Europa Leagues with the Rojiblancos.

  • Emmanuel Adebayor Manchester City Arsenal Premier League 2009Getty/GOAL

    Emmanuel Adebayor

    Despite some early successes at Manchester City, the signings of Carlos Tevez, Mario Balotelli and Edin Dzeko ultimately pushed Adebayor down the pecking order.

    He was informed by Roberto Mancini that he could depart, and duly signed on loan for Real Madrid and then Tottenham Hotspur.

    While he never came close to winning the Premier League—as the City team he left behind did in 2012—Adebayor did register 17 league goals during the 2011-12 season, better than he’d ever managed at Eastlands and his best league return since the 2007-08 season.

  • Kevin-Prince Boateng PortsmouthGetty

    Kevin-Prince Boateng

    Boateng has rebooted his career a few times during his career, with the Ghana international losing his way on several occasions but later enjoying a renaissance after swapping employers.

    Most notably, exiting Tottenham Hotspur—where he didn’t appear to have the trust of Harry Redknapp—for Portsmouth in 2009 was the jolt in the arm Prince’s career required.

    Even though he was only at Pompey for a brief spell, he reached the FA Cup final, gave himself momentum heading into the World Cup, and injured Michael Ballack—denying him the chance to participate with Germany.

    His form subsequently earned him a move to AC Milan, where he would win the Italian title a year later.

  • El Hadji Diouf, LiverpoolGetty Images

    El Hadji Diouf

    While it must be acknowledged that Diouf didn’t realise expectations upon his arrival at Liverpool, having starred for Senegal at the Africa Cup of Nations.

    However, his subsequent career demonstrated that it wasn’t because he didn’t have the aptitude or the appetite for the English game.

    Leaving Liverpool to join Sam Allardyce’s Bolton Wanderers in 2004 got Diouf’s career back on track, as he rediscovered his hunger and channelled his tenacity effectively.

    Diouf never quite achieved the heights that were expected of him during that glorious summer in 2002, but he still went on to register almost a decade of regular Premier League action.