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THE TRANSFER COLUMN: African Players Set to Make Headlines in the Summer

Kara Mbodji who is being chased by deposed English champions Leicester City, is the subject of a £7.5 million bid after the 27-year-old went AWOL in January following Anderlecht’s rejection of a proposal from The Foxes.

Mbodji, who was with Senegal in Gabon for the AFCON Games, went ballistic upon hearing news of the Royals turning down Leicester’s offer. The center-back was furious and delayed his return to the Belgian club following Senegal’s AFCON quarter-final exit, in an apparent stance to force Anderlecht to reconsider letting him go.

An agreement had to be reached by the club board with a strong promise to accept any EPL bid as a strategy to persuade the defender to return to Brussels. Leicester look destined to land its target but risk facing stiff rivalry from well-to-do-EPL sides like Everton which could send the price tag soaring beyond the £7.5 million mark.


Henry Chukwuemeka Onyekuru

Photo credit: David Hagemann

Henry Chukwuemeka Onyekuru is arguably the leading name currently in transfer discussions. The hotly pursued Onitsha-born player is getting overtures from seven clubs in the EPL with Arsenal reportedly leading the race.

The 19-year-old Nigerian has been pivotal for AS Eupen, helping the side to finish second best in the Belgian First Division A with 12 hugely invaluable goals in the league. A bevy of clubs began taking notice when the yet-to-be capped Nigerian striker dinked in a combined 11 goals in the Europa League – six in the club’s last four games in the competition.

At press time The Gunners were reported to have opened negotiations with the player’s agent. The Nigerian has a £6.8 million release clause in his contract – a fee Arsenal won’t balk at paying as it looks to regroup for next season. How Henry’s much-discussed future will pan out, will make for intriguing headlines in the coming weeks.


Kalidou Koulibally

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Kalidou Koulibaly is a much sought-after player and the EPL is said to be his preferred destination as Liverpool and Chelsea pursue the Napoli center-back. Napoli will not accept offers below the £48 million for its Senegalese star.

Jurgen Klopp is a firm admirer but the 22-year-old is a fan of Chelsea making the Stamford Bridge outfit favorites in securing his signature. Title-winning gaffer Antonio Conte, like last year, wants to do his shopping early to add to the squad’s depth for next season.

John Terry’s exit leaves a vacuum and despite Kurt Zouma at his disposal, the Italian sees Kalidou as a perfect replacement for the former England star. Koulibally tasted Champions League football with Napoli and would fancy going back to the tournament next season, which both Liverpool and Chelsea will provide.

However, the Senegalese’s representatives are said to be in close contact with the London club and wouldn’t mind pushing through a deal in the coming weeks but on a guaranteed promise that, he is in the starting lineup.


yaya:Kelechi Iheanacho

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Yaya Toure has been remarkable for Manchester City but fans are wary of losing one of their most revered stars. The Ivorian’s future is up in the air with Pep Guardiola still yet to offer the former Elephants’ captain revised terms for a new contract.

Toure, 32, this week divulged his desire to hang up his boots at City in a tone that’s almost begging, saying it will be difficult to see himself don a jersey other than City’s next term.

Kelechi Iheanacho is in a totally different situation with the City forward unlikely to remain in Guardiola’s plans of revamping the side’s setup. Set to be part of a clear-out West Brom fronts the queue in utilizing the Nigerian’s services but faces competition from Spurs, Everton, West Ham among others.

Pochettino’s side who finished second has the financial muscle to match City’s £20 million price tag for the striker, however, whether Guardiola could sell to a rival club in the top four and set to play Champions League, remains to be seen with The Baggies not likely to cough up such sums.


Steve Mounie

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Steve Mounie’s speculated future may possibly take a dip for the towering Benin and Montpellier goal-getter. Leicester, Middlesbrough and West Brom have all made inquiries for the 22-year-old, according to Football365.

Mounie was the highest-scoring African in Ligue 1 however, sides are excising circumspection over employing the services of a player whose only breakthrough year was the just concluded season.

But there’s much being said about fellow Africans; Benjamin Moukandjo (Cameroon) and teammate Ghana’s Abdul Majeeb Waris with the latter being touted to leave Lorient but interest remains firmer in the Cameroonian captain. Crystal Palace is the sole English side believed to be tracking the 28-year-old.


Naby Deco Keita

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Naby Deco Keita has risen quite phenomenally through the ranks and there won’t be a sum up of transfer ins and outs without a mention of the Guinean. Acquired from Austria’s Salzburg, Keita, 22, has blossomed for RB Leipzig and is now believed to be Chelsea N’golo Kante’s doppelganger in playing style.

And as the adulations soar for the African’s energies, so has his market valuation. Liverpool, Arsenal, and Chelsea are among illustrious clubs reportedly keeping tabs on the midfielder with the Anfield club fancying its chances more on landing the Guinean playmaker.

Leipzig won’t hesitate on the idea of holding on to its star player for an additional season but cashing in on him at a time he’s courting astronomical figures – around £20 million – will make more sense financially for the Bundesliga side.


Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 31 goals in 31 starts is a jaw-dropping statistic for the former African Player of the Year who shrugged off competition from Lewandowski for the Bundesliga Golden Boot. The Gabonese captain, has for long, harbored ambitions of donning the famous White jersey of Real Madrid.

Shirt sales weigh in the equation of transfers and the 27-year-old isn’t expected to quadruple the figures on the market, at least that’s what majority of Madrid supporters believe. However, club president Perez is an admirer of the free-scoring on-form Gabonese captain but a switch will hinge on the exit of one of either Galactico – Gareth Bale or Benzema.

The latter’s numbers are on the decline and under normal circumstances would have triggered an exit. But Perez doesn’t want to upset gaffer Zidane who views the French striker close to something of an untouchable.

Issues of this nature are a stumbling block to Aubameyang realizing his dream of playing at the Bernabeu. With all these in the equation, would a deal still be brokered? Never rule out an audacious Galactico deadline day signing in the mold of Aubameyang.

Noteably, German Champions Bayern Munich, has a knack for upsetting its rivals and won’t mind trying Dortmund’s resolve by slapping a bid for Aubameyang. Dortmund fans will go frenzy at the sale of yet another of its stars to Bayern.

Dortmund’s board has over the years stabbed the hearts of club fans with the departure of Hummels and Gotze to Bayern and wouldn’t want to draw the ire of supporters one more time by selling to The Bavarians rivals.


Daniel Opare

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Daniel Opare could be headed for Birmingham City with the appointment of Jeff Vetere as the club’s football director who brought the former Ghanaian sensation to the Castilla side, while he was at Real Madrid.

Chances of breaking into Madrid’s first team were hard to come by, leading to moves to Standard Liege, Porto, and currently Lens – on loan from Augsburg. The pair is still in close contact with reports in Ghana claiming Opare is on the brink of a move to the erstwhile EPL side.

Baba Rahman is also reported to be plotting a switch. Antonio Conte is understood to be apprehensive over the prospect of giving The Black Star a second chance and Everton’s very public intention to snap him up on a permanent deal, would be welcomed news to the Chelsea boss.

Elmohammady is said to be top of Steve Bruce’s transfer wish-list as he eyes overhauling the Aston Villa squad. The 34-year-old Egyptian wouldn’t want to exchange the glamor of the Premier League for the Championship but Hull City is already resigned to losing the defender therefore, Villa now needs to move heaven and earth to get its man with EPL new boys Brighton also keen to sign the defender.


Balde Dia Keita

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Balde Dia Keita, Senegal’s master of maneuvers is a highly-rated and precious target for Manchester United, Juventus and AC Milan. The high-flying attacker is being closely monitored by all three clubs with AC Milan the latest to join the fray.

But Juventus fronts the chase with the promise of trophies and Champions League football which could be enough to do the trick. However, the Old Lady was prompted into issuing a rebuttal yesterday after riffed reports claimed that the club signed the former Barcelona youth star.

Sevilla is in the equation too. However, what remains clear is that Keita is still a Lazio player but an exit remains imminent.


Emmanuel Emenike

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Emmanuel Emenike caused a buzz in Turkey and was reported to be on the radar of a number of sides but a pursuing career move for his services is subsiding in bits with time.

The 30-year-old former Nigerian center-forward and third highest paid African in Turkey has poured cold water on speculations linking him with a move elsewhere while revealing his intention to stay put with Fernabache for another season. Emenike has 12-month left on his deal and could be a free agent by next summer.




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