Top 12 Most Expensive African Players Of All Time

European football has seen a great influx of African players and this has helped improve the quality of the beautiful game. We have seen really good African players come and go but who are the most expensive African signings ever? The most expensive African players ever are listed below.

Top 12 Most Expensive African Players Of All Time 

1. Sadio Mane (Senegalese) – £34 Million

From Southampton to Liverpool (2016) 


The quick Senegalese, Sadio Mane is currently the most expensive African football player. Formerly of Southampton, Mane became Africa’s most expensive player ever after signing for 18-time Champions of England and 5-time UEFA Champions League winners, English club Liverpool in 2016 for a fee reported to be in the region of of £34 million ($45.5 million).

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2. Eric Bailly (Ivorian) – £30 Million

From Villarreal to Manchester United (2016) 


Eric Bailly is a powerful defender from Cote d’Ivoire. He  was signed in 2016 by English club Manchester United, who are the most successful English club with 20 premier league titles for a transfer fee of £30 million; on a four-year contract from Villarreal. Bailly was José Mourinho’s first signing at Manchester United.

3. Islam Slimani (Algerian) – £28 Million

From Sporting CP to Leicester City (2016)


Islam Slimani became Leicester City’s record signing in 2016 when Leicester City paid a reported transfer fee of £28 million to Portuguese club Sporting CP.


4. Wilfried Bony (Ivorian) – £28 Million

From Swansea City to Manchester City (2015)


In 2015, Manchester City splashed out £28 million for former Swansea striker, Wilfried Bony and at that time, he was Africa’s most expensive player. Bony could not hit the ground running and this led to him being loaned out to Stoke City on August 31, 2016.

5.  Emmanuel Sheyi Adebayor (Togolese) – £25 Million

From Arsenal to Manchester City (2009)


Former Arsenal star Emmanuel Adebayor had been one of the stars of the Arsenal team before he signed for Manchester City. Following a prolific season in 2008, in which the Togolese star scored 30 goals in all competitions and he earned his place in the PFA Team of the Year, he was linked with a €38-million move to AC Milan and Barcelona. Adebayor did not find the same form the following season, and Arsenal decided to sell him to nouveau riche Manchester City for a reported fee of £25million.

6. Yannick Bolasie (Congolese) – £24.5 Million

From Crystal Palace to Everton (2016) 


In 2016, Yannick Bolasie signed from Crystal Palace to Everton for a reported fee of £25 million. Bolasie also plays for the DR Congo national football team.

7. Michael Essien (Ghanaian) – £24.4 Million

From Lyon to Chelsea (2005)


Former BBC African Player of the Year Michael Essien became the most expensive African footballer at that time when José Mourinho signed him for Chelsea from Olympique Lyonnais in 2005.

Essien had finished the previous season as the winner of Ligue 1 Player of the Year, which goes some way to explaining the size of the fee Chelsea were willing to pay. Chelsea paid £24.4 million for his services at that time and he proved to be a hit, helping Chelsea to win the Premier League twice, FA Cup four times and the Champions League, as well as being named Chelsea Player of the Year in 2007. 

8. Didier Drogba (Ivorian) – £24 Million

From Lyon to Chelsea (2004)


To all Chelsea fans, he’s known as the King and rightly so. Drogba excelled in the Ligue 1 before joining Chelsea from Marseille in a deal with £24 million. Drogba was not prolific in his early years at Stamford Bridge but he soon became indispensable to the team. Drogba helped Chelsea to several titles with his moment of glory coming in 2012 where he singlehandedly gave Chelsea the Champions league title against Bayern Munich.

=8. Yaya Toure (Ivorian) – £24 Million  

From Barcelona to Manchester City (2009)


Toure has played in a number of European leagues throughout his career, however he first came to prominence playing in France with AS Monaco. His performances there attracted the interest of Barcelona, who signed him from the Ligue 1 club for €10-million in 2007. During his time at the Catalan club he won seven trophies, with six being claimed during 2009. Toure lost his place in the Barcelona first team following Pep Guardiola as manager, resulting in the announcement he would leave the club at the conclusion of the 2010 season.

Manchester City won the fight to sign Toure following his departure from the Camp Nou and he has been integral to the 2012 and 2014 Premier League title triumphs.

10. Mehdi Benatia (Moroccan) – £21 Million  

From Roma to Bayern Munich (2014)


Roma paid €13.5 million to sign Benatia from Udinese in the summer of 2013. After a year starring in defence for Roma Benatia was subject to the interest of some of Europe’s biggest names including Real Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Manchester City and Bayern Munich. Bayern eventually won the battle for the Moroccan international, paying Roma €26 million (£21m) for Benatia.

He was vital at the heart of the Bayern defence as they defended their Bundesliga title and currently earns €4-million a year having signed a five year contract last summer. The Morocco defender Mehdi Benatia joined Bayern Munich from Roma on a five-year deal and was signed by Pep Guardiola. Benatia also plays for the Morocco national team. He is currently on loan at Juventus.

=10. Samuel Eto’o Fils (Cameroonian) – £21 Million

From Inter Milan to Anzhi Makhachkala (2011)


When Eto’o transferred from Inter to Anzhi, he became the best paid player in the world at that time too. Eto’o signed a three-year deal worth £21 million a year, which made him the highest paid player in the world at the time. Eto’o was prolific in his time at Barcelona and Inter and he has since gone on to represent Chelsea and Everton in the Premier League. He is one of the host of African players that have enjoyed a trophy-laden career.

12. Austin ‘Jay-Jay’ Okocha (Nigerian) – £14 Million

From Fenerbahce to Paris St-Germain (1998)

This magician could do wonders with the ball at his feet. Okocha was signed by Paris St-Germain for £14 million following a prolific spell at Fenerbahce in which he scored 30 goals in 62 games from midfield. The Nigerian became a fan favourite in the French capital and acted as a mentor to a young Ronaldinho before he became a global superstar. Okocha left PSG after the 2002 World Cup and signed for Premier League Bolton.

Jay-Jay became a cult hero of the Reebok faithful and was made captain after a year at the club. He also captained the Nigerian national team between 2002 and 2006 and has stated that he would like to be president of the Nigerian Football Association in the future.


The Author


I am Maduawuchi, the Editor of Nigerian Infopedia. I am a Biochemist, I love God, I love my family and I love my life. Writing is natural to me that's why I love what I do... Captain, Leader, Motivator, Brother and Friend. Saved by Grace alone.

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