5 greatest African forwards to ever play in the Premier League

Sadio Mane (left) and Riyad Mahrez.
Sadio Mane (left) and Riyad Mahrez.
Sushan Chakraborty

Africa, a continent of rich values and vibrant culture, has produced some fine forwards over the years, many of whom have set the Premier League alight.

They have played for top clubs, helping them achieve greatness with their world-class skills, tenacity, and leadership. Without their decisive goals, it would have been difficult for the clubs to reach the pinnacle of English football.

Today, we will take a look at five African goalscorers who have mesmerized us with their dazzling runs, clever movement, and world-class goals.

Here are the five greatest African goalscorers to ever play in the English top flight:

#5 Nwankwo Kanu - Arsenal, West Bromwich Albion, Portsmouth

Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers
Arsenal v Wolverhampton Wanderers

Back in the day, Nwankwo Kanu was a force to be reckoned with in the English top flight. He was quick, tenacious, and knew how to find himself in the right place at the right time.

Plying his trade at Arsenal, West Bromwich Albion, and Portsmouth in England, Kanu weaved an enviable legacy.

The Nigerian joined Arsenal from Inter Milan in January 1999. He made 12 league appearances for the remainder of the 1998-99 season, scoring six times.

The following season, he established himself as an undisputed first-teamer, playing 31 games in the division and attaining his best-ever tally of 12 goals.

His first Premier League title came in the 2000-01 season, with him scoring three goals in 27 appearances. Kanu was also part of the Premier League-winning “Invincibles” squad of 2003-04, contributing to the cause with a goal in 10 appearances.

He spent the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons at West Brom, scoring seven goals in 53 league appearances. Between 2006 and 2010, he was at Portsmouth, bagging 17 goals in 101 appearances in the English top flight.

In total, Kanu played 273 games in the Premier League, scoring 54 times and providing 29 assists.

#4 Riyad Mahrez - Leicester City, Manchester City

Manchester City v Aston Villa - Premier League
Manchester City v Aston Villa - Premier League

One of the sharpest players in the division, Riyad Mahrez has represented two English champions in his career. He won the league with Leicester City before joining Manchester City and reaching new heights.

The Algerian was at Leicester for four seasons between 2014 and 2018, impressing onlookers with his footwork and maturity in front of goal.

Mahrez played his best football for the Foxes in the 2015-16 campaign, contributing with 17 goals and 11 assists in 37 league appearances as they won their first-ever Premier League title.

In 2018, Manchester City lapped him up for a €67.8 million fee, and he wasted no time making himself valuable. In his debut season at the Etihad, the right-winger was only allowed to start 14 top-flight matches.

He still finished the season with a respectable tally of seven goals and four assists, helping his new employers win the Premier League title.

The following season, he pitched in with 11 goals and nine assists in the league, recording his best-ever PL campaign in City colors.

Mahrez, who has celebrated two more titles with City (2020-21, 2021-22), has so far played in 254 Premier League games, registering 77 goals and 51 assists.

#3 Sadio Mane - Southampton, Liverpool

Liverpool v Everton - Premier League
Liverpool v Everton - Premier League

Sadio Mane will play for Bayern Munich next season. The departure of such a player not only hurts Liverpool, but also the division as a whole.

The Senegalese kept fans hooked with his skills and infectious energy, and we believe it would be mighty difficult for anyone to take his place.

Mane enjoyed two impressive seasons with Southampton, scoring 21 goals in 67 league appearances, but he played his best football at Liverpool.

Between 2016 and 2021, he was one of their leading men in attack, scoring 90 goals and providing 29 assists in 196 Premier League appearances.

It’s been quite a ride! Thank you for all the good times and I wish you all the best in your new adventure! You will be missed by all of us.

The Senegal international’s best-ever individual season came in the 2018-19 campaign, with him scoring 22 goals to win the PL Golden Boot.

The following campaign, he scored 18 goals and provided seven assists, helping the Reds to their first league title in 30 years.

Overall, Mane played 263 Premier League games, recording 111 goals and 38 assists, creating a legacy very few would be able to match.

#2 Didier Drogba - Chelsea

Didier Drogba in Fulham v Chelsea
Didier Drogba in Fulham v Chelsea

In west London, Didier Drogba is univocally known as the “King.” Given his performances for Chelsea, the honor only seems fitting.

Drogba is arguably the greatest player to have ever played for the Blues. Had it not been for the Ivory Coast star, Chelsea would certainly not have tasted so much success in the Roman Abramovich era.

Drogba joined the Stamford Bridge outfit from Marseille for £24 million in 2004. The Ivorian took a little time adjusting to his new surroundings. But once he did, there was no turning back.

He capped off his debut season with 10 goals and five assists in 26 league appearances, helping the Blues to the Premier League title.

He improved upon his performances the following term, clocking 12 goals and 11 assists in 29 appearances, aiding Chelsea’s title defense.

Didier Drogba was the last player to score 20 goals in a season for Chelsea.

His best-ever season in the English top flight came in 2009-10, with him scoring a whopping 29 goals and providing 10 assists in 32 appearances. Buoyed by his goal contributions, Chelsea once again won the Premier League.

Drogba left the club in 2012, but rejoined a couple of years later, ahead of the 2014-15 campaign. The legend won his fourth English league title before leaving for Montreal at the end of the season.

In the PL, Drogba scored 104 goals and provided 55 assists, winning the Golden Boot twice, in 2006-07 (20 goals) and 2009-10 (29 goals), respectively.

#1 Mohamed Salah - Chelsea, Liverpool

Liverpool FC v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final 2021/22
Liverpool FC v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final 2021/22

Beating Chelsea legend Didier Drogba by the narrowest of margins, Mohamed Salah has emerged as the most ruthless African goalscorer to ever play in the Premier League.

The Liverpool forward has not been in the English top flight for as long as some of the other names on our list, but sure has made every minute count. He has valiantly led Liverpool's attack, helping them emerge as one of the best teams in Europe.

Salah made his Premier League debut in Chelsea colors in the 2013-14 campaign, with him scoring twice in 10 league appearances that season. The following campaign, he only appeared thrice in the league, failing to open his account.

Chelsea loaned him out to Fiorentina next summer. Upon returning, he found himself at Roma, first on loan, then signing for them permanently in 2016.

Every day is a gym day for Salah 💪

Impressed with the Egyptian’s performances for the Italian giants, Liverpool brought him back to the Premier League in 2017, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Salah has since made 193 appearances in the English top-flight, scoring 120 goals and providing 47 assists. He has won three Golden Boots (32 goals in 2017-18, 22 goals in 2018-19, 23 goals in 2021-22), and the Playmaker award once (2021-22) for registering the most assists (13).

So far, Salah has won the Premier League once with the Reds, with him scoring 19 goals to help them put an end to their 30-year title drought in the 2019-20 season.

Also Read: 5 greatest South American footballers to ever play in the Premier League

Edited by Samya Majumdar


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