The English Premier League is back this weekend and all the drama and intrigue of another campaign awaits. As ever, players from Africa will feature heavily and add their flair to the competition in the search for silverware and continental qualification.
We pick 10 players from the continent to watch in the 2023/24 campaign.
TAIWO AWONIYI (NOTTINGHAM FOREST & NIGERIA)
Awoniyi took a while to get going at Nottingham Forest last season but his goals ended up keeping the club in the Premier League as he scored six in his final four games to send The Trees shooting up the table.
He got 10 in 27 appearances in all, but with one campaign under his belt, the expectation is that he will hit the ground running in 2023/24. This could be a big year for the burley forward, who has also played in Belgium and the German Bundesliga.
SAID BENRAHMA (WEST HAM UNITED & ALGERIA)
Algeria international Benrahma now has three seasons under his belt at West Ham and was a major player for them as they lifted the Europa Conference League last season, despite struggling in the Premier League.
At the age of 27 he is beginning to reach his peak and will likely be a huge player for The Hammers again, who have to make up for the loss of talisman Declan Rice. Benrahma got six goals last term as an attacking midfielder, he will be looking for double figures this time around.
LYLE FOSTER (BURNLEY & SOUTH AFRICA)
Foster will become the latest South African to feature in the Premier League and the first since Percy Tau for Brighton & Hove Albion in the 2020/21 campaign. It is a huge step up for the 22-year-old Foster but, having featured quite prominently in pre-season, he looks set to be very involved for Vincent Kompany’s side.
He has already played in South Africa, France, Belgium and Portugal in his short career, so a fifth league by the age of 22 is some going. What he needs now is a settled few years and some patience at Turf Moor.
ALEX IWOBI (EVERTON & NIGERIA)
It has been a tough few years for Everton with successive relegation battles, but through that period Iwobi has been one of their top performers.
His quality on the ball, eye for a pass and high work rate have made him a valuable asset at Goodison Park, though he has yet to sign a new deal with his contract set to end at the completion of this season. In a team that lacks creativity, he is a stand-out and should be huge for them. He does need to add goals to his game though, and certainly has the capability to do that.
NICOLAS JACKSON (CHELSEA & SENEGAL)
Born in Gambia but a Senegal international, Jackson is (yet another) new arrival at Chelsea as they completely overhaul their squad under new coach Mauricio Pochettino.
He has been signed from Villarreal in LaLiga for €37-million, where he scored 12 goals in 26 appearances last season, signalling his huge potential. Still only 22, he could take some time to bed in, but there is a lot of buzz around the forward and he is tipped for the very top of the game.
BRYAN MBEUMO (BRENTFORD & CAMEROON)
Mbeumo just gets better and better and last season he was sensational at times. Often criticised in the past for a lack of end product to his surging runs, he has improved those statistics and is now a hugely effective winger or left-sided forward that can play anywhere across the front three. His pace and skill on the ball make him a danger for defences and having scored nine goals last season, he will have his sights on double figures this time round.
ANDRE ONANA (MANCHESTER UNITED & CAMEROON)
The flamboyant goalkeeper is a new arrival at Old Trafford after reuniting with manager Erik ten Hag following his €52.5-million move from Ajax Amsterdam. He has been signed to replace David de Gea and certainly brings quality, though he has also been criticised in the past for being a ‘difficult’ character.
He stormed out of the Cameroon squad at the World Cup in Qatar after a fallout with coach Rigobert Song, and also served a nine-month ban after testing positive for a banned substance, though he denied wrongdoing and said he had taken his wife’s medication by mistake. He is a top goalkeeper, but there is quite a bit to manage off the pitch.
DANGO OUATTARA (BOURNEMOUTH & BURKINA FASO)
The young attacker arrived at Bournemouth from feeder club Lorient in France in January 2023 and played a big role in The Cherries moving clear of the relegation zone, after they had seemed doomed at one point.
His pace and trickery on the wing was a constant worry for opponents and he created many opportunities for teammates.
He will want to add to his single goal, which came in an epic 3-2 win at Tottenham Hotspur. At just 21, there is plenty of growth left in him.
THOMAS PARTEY (ARSENAL & GHANA)
The experienced midfielder played a big part in Arsenal’s title charge last season that floundered in the closing weeks and it was certainly his best campaign in England following a 2020 move from Atletico Madrid in Spain. It looks as though he will play alongside new signing Declan Rice in the Granit Xhaka role after the latter departed at the end of last season, and that means he will be key to how Arsenal play. Can he help them go one better this term?
MO SALAH (LIVERPOOL & EGYPT)
What would a list of African stars in the Premier League be without Salah, who is one of the greatest ever from the continent to ply his trade in England?
He continues to break records at Liverpool and should streak past 150 Premier League goals this season, putting him in the very top bracket of forwards to have played in the world’s top domestic competition.
He can also be the man to spark a revival for Liverpool after a disappointing 2022/23 season that saw them finish fifth and fail to qualify for the Uefa Champions League –SuperSport.