The Premier League is the richest football league in the world and arguably the most competitive one too.
That explains why several fine players across the globe have graced the competition over the years. Many fine players from Africa have played in the Premier League since the competition’s inception three decades ago.
On that note, here’s a look at the five best African players to have graced the Premier League. A few of them are still active in the competition.
Note: All stats are as per transfermarkt unless mentioned otherwise.
#5 Yaya Toure | Manchester City
Yaya Toure had a successful Premier League stint with Manchester City.
Yaya Toure is one of the best midfielders to have graced the Premier League. The 38-year-old former Cote d’Ivoire international spent eight successful seasons in the competition with Manchester City.
Toure played over 230 games in the Premier League, scoring 59 goals and assisting 35. Needless to say, he was a key player in City’s three Premier League triumphs, one of them coming under the club’s current manager Pep Guardiola.
Known for his physicality in midfield and penchant to score from distance, Toure scored 20 times in City’s triumphant Premier League campaign in 2013-14.
The versatile Toure operated in a plethora of positions across midfield, but it was in central midfield where he looked most at ease.
#4 Michael Essien | Chelsea
Michael Essien made his name as a combative defensive midfielder.
Michael Essien is one of the best defensive midfielders in the history of the Premier League. During a decade-long stint in the competition, all with Chelsea, Essien racked up 168 appearances, scoring 17 times and assisting on 11 occasions.
However, it was in defensive midfield, where Essien proved to be worth his weight in gold. Breaking up opponent plays and kickstarting attacks for his team, the former Ghana international was one of the first names on Chelsea’s team sheet.
The two-time Premier League winner enjoyed his most prolific campaign in the competition in 2007-08, scoring six times and assisting three. Thanks to Essien’s exploits, Chelsea finished only two points adrift of winners Manchester United.
#3 Sadio Mane | Southampton, Liverpool
Sadio Mane has had a successful stint at Liverpool.
Sadio Mane forms one-third of one of the most successful triumvirates in Premier League history. The winger has had a hugely successful stint in the English top-flight, especially with his current club Liverpool.
Mane has been a consistent performer in the Premier League, tallying at least ten strikes in each of his seven previous campaigns in the campaign. Needless to say, he was a key player in Liverpool’s triumphant 2019-20 campaign, scoring 18 times and assisting nine.
The Senegal international has had a good start to his 2021-22 campaign; he is already up to five goals for the season. His latest strike made him the third African player to score 100 goals in the Premier League.Incredibly, none of Mane’s 100 Premier League strikes have come from the spot, making him only the third player in league history to achieve the milestone.
#2 Mohamed Salah | Chelsea, Liverpool
Mohamed Salah has been a colossal player for Liverpool.
Mohamed Salah is arguably one of the best players in the Premier League at the moment.
The prolific attacker has racked up a century of goals in the competition, scoring all but three of his strikes for Liverpool. He has scored at least 19 goals in the Premier League in each of his four full campaigns with the Reds.
Salah has been in sublime form this season. He started his campaign by becoming the first player to score in five consecutive Premier League opening-day games with a goal against Norwich City. With his seventh strike in the competition on Saturday against Watford, Salah (104) became the joint-most prolific African scorer in Premier League history.
Together with Roberto Firmino and Mane, the Egyptian winger forms one of the most devastating attacking troikas in English top-flight history.
#1 Didier Drogba | Chelsea
Didier Drogba is a Chelsea legend.
Didier Drogba is a bonafide Chelsea and Premier League legend. The former Cote d’Ivoire international was a quintessential goal poacher, scoring goals for fun during his nine-year stint with the Blues.
The 43-year-old, a four-time Premier League winner, scored 104 goals in the competition and also provided 64 assists. In his most prolific campaign in the Premier League in 2009-10, Drogba netted 29 times, helping Chelsea to their third league title in six years.
Drogba, a two-time Premier League Golden Boot winner, played his final season in the competition in 2014-15. He won his fourth Premier League title that campaign and is widely regarded as the greatest African footballer in the league’s decorated history.