African football has always played a major part in the English game since the inception of the Premier League, and it arguably is at its strongest at the moment with some of the continent’s best players plying their trade with some of Europe’s top teams.
I have selected the Top Ten players who are currently playing in the Premier League and why they are so important to their respective teams.
- Benoit Assou-Ekotto (Tottenham Hotspur)
Left-back Assou-Ekotto is one of the few Cameroonian players currently playing the Premier League, and he has certainly become one of Tottenham’s key players in recent years. Criticised for not offering enough in an attacking sense, he has improved his offensive game and even chipped in with some vital goals in recent years.
- Emmanuel Adebayor (Tottenham Hotspur)
Former Arsenal and Manchester City striker Adebayor has had his detractors during his time in England, but the Togo international is still one of the top forward players in England. His goalscoring record is one of the best held by current Premier League players, whilst his partnership with Jermain Defoe could prove crucial if Spurs are to qualify for the Champions League this season.
- Demba Ba (Newcastle United)
Senegal striker Ba was a revelation for the Magpies last term, although his scoring form dropped off somewhat in the second half of the season. He seems to have turned his fortunes around this campaign, though, and has scored three goals in his last two appearances after being dropped to the bench by manager Alan Pardew.
The former West Ham forward has an apparent release clause of £7million in his contract, and he is rumoured to be interesting Liverpool as they look to end their quest for a reliable goalscorer. With Ba’s record, he could be the perfect man to fill the void.
- Papisse Demba Cisse (Newcastle United)
Signed in January, Senegal’s Cisse was one of the buys of the 2011/12 season as almost everything he touched turned to goals for the St James’ Park outfit. He hasn’t started the season as well this time around, and his missed penalty against Norwich wouldn’t have helped his confidence. But if he can recapture his form then we could again be seeing goals like his famous curling effort at Stamford Bridge towards the end of last season.
- Victor Moses (Chelsea)
Signed from Wigan Athletic for £9million over the summer, Moses has yet to make his mark on the Stamford Bridge side, but he looks set for a bright future in the game. Despite playing age-group football for England, he has since chosen to represent Nigeria internationally and he will be hoping to lead the twice African Cup on Nations winners back to their past glories in future years.
- Peter Odemwingie (West Brom)
One of the finest finishers in the English game, Odemwingie has helped turn West Brom into a stable Premier League side after being labelled as a yo-yo club for a number of years. The Nigerian forward can be absolutely clinical in front of goal and has established a partnership with Shane Long that is feared by most defences in the division.
- Steven Pienaar (Everton)
Now in his second permanent spell at Goodison Park, South Africa captain Pienaar is a fans’ favourite at Everton due to his tricky wing play and ability to pick a pass almost at will. After a disappointing period at Tottenham Hotspur, the 30-year-old looks back to his best in David Moyes’ team as they push for a European place this season.
- Stephane Sessegnon (Sunderland)
Benin midfielder Sessegnon signed for Sunderland from Paris Saint-Germain in 2011 and has become an instant hit at the Stadium of Light. He filled admirably as an emergency striker last season and his goalscoring ability makes him a danger for defences as they look to nullify his threat from midfield.
- Cheick Tiote (Newcastle United)
Signed from FC Twente in 2010, Ivory Coast midfielder Tiote has become one of the most sought after midfielders in the Premier League after some impressive performances for Alan Pardew’s team. The combative 26-year-old is one of the better defensive midfielders that the English game has seen in recent years, and it is no surprise that the top sides, including Manchester United, have shown an interest in the Ivorian.
- Yaya Toure (Manchester City)
Midfielder Toure has become of the most talked about midfielders in the English game after he helped inspire the blue half of Manchester to their first Premier League title last season. The Ivory Coast international is famed for his powerful runs and long-range shooting, and it would be no surprise to see him return to Barcelona one day after he left the Nou Camp in 2010.