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Osimhen next? The most expensive African footballers ever

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Victor Osimhen is expected to leave Napoli this summer in what could be a record-breaking deal.

Osimhen has an agreement with Napoli that will allow him to depart in the current transfer window, though any side interested in his services will need to spend big.

With a reported release clause of around £110m, the 25-year-old could become the most expensive African footballer of all time.

We’ve listed the current top five.

5. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Borussia Dortmund to Arsenal (£56m)

Arsenal broke their transfer record to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018.

The Gabon international had scored 141 goals in 213 appearances for the German side and ended the 2016-17 season as the Bundesliga’s top scorer. Arsenal spent big to sign the striker and were rewarded with an instant impact, as Aubameyang scored 10 times in 13 appearances after his mid-season arrival.

He won the Premier League Golden Boot in a three-way African tie for the award in 2018-19, alongside Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, becoming the first player to win leading scorer accolades in Germany and England. Only Harry Kane has since matched that achievement.

Leno → Holding → Xhaka → Torreira → Ozil → Guendouzi → Bellerin → Lacazette → Ozil → Aubameyang 🥅#GoalOfTheDay is a scintillating @Arsenal move 🔥 pic.twitter.com/eiMshI9yQZ

— Premier League (@premierleague) October 22, 2020

Aubameyang scored 92 goals across four seasons with Arsenal before departing for Barcelona after a fall-out with head coach Mikel Arteta.

4. Victor Osimhen – Lille to Napoli (£57.5m)

A transfer for Victor Osimhen this summer could see the Nigerian land a second placing on this list. Napoli smashed their transfer record to sign the forward from Lille in 2020, with the French side confirming the fee was €68m (£57.5m).

The fee represented a gamble for a 21-year-old with just one season of experience in Ligue 1 but Napoli’s judgement has proven to be astute as Osimhen has evolved in Italy. He won the Serie A Best Young Player award in the 2021–22 season, before a blistering following campaign that saw him inspire Napoli to title success.

This goal is vintage Victor Osimhen 💥

He gives Napoli the lead ✅

📺 @tntsports & @discoveryplusUK pic.twitter.com/jIxbwASIzP

— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) May 6, 2024

Osimhen ended the campaign as the league’s leading scorer as Napoli won Serie A for the first time in 33 years and was recognised with the Serie A Footballer of the Year and African Footballer of the Year awards. He is the highest-scoring African footballer in Serie A history.

3. Achraf Hakimi – Inter Milan to Paris Saint-Germain (£60m)

Achraf Hakimi’s globe-trotting career has taken in stops in Spain, Germany, Italy and France. The marauding Moroccan right-back won a Serie A title with Inter Milan in 2020-21, where his performances persuaded Paris Saint-Germain to spend £60m on his services.

He’s continued to enhance his reputation as one of world football’s best wing-backs in Paris, where he’s won a hat-trick of Ligue 1 titles. The defender formed part of the Morocco team that became the first African nation to reach a World Cup semi-final in 2022.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME, ACHRAF HAKIMI?! 🇲🇦☄️ pic.twitter.com/wFxDYc5lUj

— Ligue 1 English (@Ligue1_ENG) September 24, 2023

2. Riyad Mahrez – Leicester to Manchester City (£60m)

Manchester City broke their transfer record to sign Riyad Mahrez from Leicester in 2018.

Mahrez had been the inspiration behind Leicester’s shock Premier League title win in 2015-16, scooping the PFA Player of the Year Award, and added four further league titles during a decorated career at the Etihad.

A Mahrez-merising goal #OnThisDay in 2020 🪄 pic.twitter.com/u7TVGdF8B2

— Manchester City (@ManCity) January 12, 2024

At international level, he won the Africa Cup of Nations with Algeria in 2019.

1. Nicolas Pele – Lille to Arsenal (£72m)

Nicolas Pepe is the most expensive African footballer of all time after Arsenal spent £72m to sign the Ivorian winger from Lille.

Pepe had starred during his final season in Ligue 1 with 22 goals and 11 assists to attract interest from European football’s heavyweights, with Arsenal winning the race for his signature. Pepe, however, struggled to make a consistent impact in the Premier League in a disappointing spell in North London.

Pépé 💧#HeadsUpFACupFinal @Arsenal pic.twitter.com/jLRttphGAz

— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) August 2, 2020

After a loan spell at Nice, he was allowed to leave for Turkish side Trabzonspor on a free transfer in 2023.

Read – Ranking the five most valuable footballers in the world right now

See more – Five unexpected stars of the Euro 2024 group stage

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