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Punters' 10 greatest African players of all time to bet on
Jan 26, 2022, 4:47:00 AM

Punters' 10 greatest African players of all time to bet on

African soccer players were not given much attention in the past. In the modern era, this has changed because some stars have become more popular. Let’s take a look at some African soccer stars who you can rely on to be reliable in the betting markets.

Over the past century of soccer, no African country has won the World Cup. Most of the glory of the sport has been linked to European or South American countries. However, players with African roots have won the World Cup with the most notable case coming back in 2018 when France won.

There have been some awesome African players over the years. You have legendary stars like Samuel Eto’o, Didier Drogba, George Weah, and many more. While they were favourites for bettors back in the day for both their clubs and countries, they didn’t get much support from their teammates and countries. Now, African players are enjoying a renaissance period as they continue to thrive with each passing season. 

Let’s look at the African players who are thriving at the moment and who can be recognized as reliable players in the betting world.

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Édouard Mendy - Chelsea and Senegal

When you look at his story over the years, you will come to respect Édouard Mendy. He started his career in the Le Havre academy in France. His pro career began with third-division club Cherbourg in 2011 but he was released in 2014. Mendy almost quit football until he received the opportunity to play for Marseille’s reserves. 

He managed to use that chance to play for Reims and then Rennes where he would become a top-tier Ligue 1 goalkeeper. He worked hard to earn his place for his club and Senegal as well. Now, he is Chelsea’s first-choice goalkeeper which is a big role. 

The Blues are one of the biggest clubs in the world and Mendy is their starting GK. That is not a fluke because Mendy worked hard for his spot at Chelsea. His best asset has to be his shot-stopping ability because he uses his hands well to stop shots with reactionary and impulsive saves.

What makes him such a good player for betting is his overall skill set. He is not only a shot-stopper because he’s a good communicator. He can dictate the flow of both their offence and defence with pinpoint passes. 

If you’re looking for the best African goalkeeper, it’s difficult to say that Mendy is the number one choice. No one comes close at the moment but he will serve as an example for future African players who want to play the GK role. Hopefully, that works out because Mendy is a stellar player for both his club and country.

Riyad Mahrez - Manchester City and Algeria

An elite offensive skill-set matters especially when you’re a forward. Riyad Mahrez has been an amazing player over the years but he wasn’t a highly-touted player before. He was often overlooked because he was a slender player and coaches thought he would get physically dominated during matches.

Mahrez worked hard to buck those criticisms because his skill set was elite. He could dribble around defenders with amazing moves and his opponents could not keep up with him. His talent is undeniable because he can take on a whole defence all on his own with his dribble moves in his bag.

While he had his first shot at pro football in France with Le Havre like Mendy, Mahrez got his top-tier career started with his move to England and Leicester City. They were still in the EFL Championship when Mahrez joined in 2013-14 but he quickly established himself as an elite talent with the team. 

In just his second season, Mahrez was playing in the Premier League with the Foxes but he was lacklustre. He only had four goals and three assists in 30 appearances which were underwhelming in hindsight. However, the 2015-16 season was Mahrez’s breakout season as he became arguably the best player in the Premier League when he led the Foxes to an unlikely Prem title win. 

He would then join Manchester City in the 2018-19 season and he has been one of the most reliable players under Pep Guardiola. You can expect that an elite talent like him would be lost in the shuffle at Man City but Pep loves him enough to stick with him in the starting XI. If you’re looking for a skilled player who can carry his team with both goals and assists, Mahrez should be a top choice. 

Achraf Hakimi - Paris SG and Morocco 

Achraf Hakimi is an elite right-back who has become the perfect example of a modern full-back. Back in the day, full-backs were mostly playing on the defensive end with limited time spent on the offensive end of the game. Now, the full-back position is relied upon to become a primary creator for the offence with crosses and tight passes to the wingers.

While some people would tout a right-back from Merseyside as the prime example, it is hard to say that Hakimi is not the perfect prototype for the modern role. He is not only an elite defender who can body up against physical wingers but he can also play at an elite level on offence. 

Throughout his career, he has played in elite clubs because all of them recognize his talents. He played for Madrid for a long time but he didn’t like his role being overshadowed there. He took his talents to Borussia Dortmund on loan where he thrived but he truly got his career going with his Inter Milan stint. He would only spend one year with the club but he was a focal point of Antonio Conte’s system that helped Inter win their first Serie A title in a decade. 

With Paris SG, Hakimi is mostly relied upon to help the offence. With elite players in every position, Hakimi is still thriving. That is a sign of an elite player and he will be one for the foreseeable future. 

The Morocco national team is not the strongest of squads in international football but they do have a gem of a right-back. Hopefully, they can surround him with good players because Hakimi himself has proven that he’s a big factor in betting despite a weaker team around him in Morocco. 

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Sébastien Haller - Ajax and the Ivory Coast

Sébastien Haller is an elite goal-scorer for both Ajax and the Ivory Coast. He has even rivaled the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku in terms of goals scored in the Champions League. That is a huge feat and Ajax is glad to have him as their star striker. However, Haller’s star status was in jeopardy when he was playing for West Ham United.

The Hammers did not know how to play Haller properly which led to a disappointing two-year stint with the club. However, it led to Haller becoming more motivated to perform better which is why he’s such a gem for Ajax. 

On the other hand, the Ivory Coast is seen as one of the best African football countries. They have produced some elite players with the most notable one being Didier Drogba. As a striker, Drogba has left a special mark on both the Ivory Coast football system and Chelsea’s history books. 

Haller was playing for France’s youth system but he stopped knowing that he could represent the Ivory Coast. This was huge for the country because they needed a striker who could step up and become the team’s main star. Of course, some players can compete with him for that spot but he has emerged as an awesome option in front. 

In terms of the betting aspect, you will love Haller because he always scores goals. He can lead his team to victory and you shouldn’t overlook his dedication to playing on both ends. 

Franck Kessié - AC Milan and the Ivory Coast

Promising wingers are all over the place in the football world but Franck Kessié has shown great potential. The Ivorian has thrived in Italy especially for AC Milan with both his creative ability to make plays but he can score goals as well. 

Elite offensive players are hard to come by these days and the Ivory Coast has done well to produce those kinds of stars. Haller is already a star there but you can also add Kessié to that list. They can work together on offence with both elite passing and a nose for the goal. 

Kessié is the perfect complementary piece for any top striker because he provides you with pinpoint passes. He makes those passes after creating space from the defenders and either making the accurate cross or he dribbles into the box and makes a ground pass.

It is challenging to play the winger role but when you watch Kessié, you can see that he makes it look easier than usual. That is a challenging role to play because he has so many responsibilities on offence. He is also tasked to track back and play defence which is a hard balance to strike. 

If you’re looking for a reliable bet that can generate offence, Kessié is your man for both his club and country. He is on track to become a dual-threat on offence with his passing and striking which makes him a top-tier option for betting as well.

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Emmanuel Dennis - Watford and Nigeria

Over the years, Nigeria has produced some good players but they haven’t become the top-tier talents that people want them to be. They have come close but they seem to struggle to maintain a consistent form. In Emmanuel Dennis’ case, he has been a role player over his career. 

When he joined Premier League side, Watford, he finally found a place where he is valued enough to be seen as one of their best players. He is a star striker who can score goals amongst the best of them in the Prem. That is huge for both his club and country because if he continues to play this way, Nigeria has a star player in front. 

Dennis has proven himself to be one of the most reliable strikers in both the Prem and across most African nations. He is supremely talented because he scores his goals in every way possible. He can act as an off-ball threat and score with volleys and headers but he can also score on his own using dribble moves. 

With that kind of self-creation ability, Dennis can carry his team to victory. If he is in good form, you should rely on him to be a good bet because he will usually carry a huge load of responsibility when playing for both his club and country.

Despite his reputation as a star striker, you should also expect Dennis can be a solid playmaker. If he can make good passes, you should see Dennis as a top option.

Victor Osimhen - Napoli and Nigeria

While Dennis is a top-tier option for Nigeria, that should not take away from Victor Osimhen as well. Throughout his career, Victor has been stellar for most of his teams. He thrived with Lille but Napoli has been his best squad. He does not only score goals but he can also create for his teammates. 

His struggles early in his career have helped him get a better understanding of the sport and team dynamics. His time with Napoli has proven that he can play in almost any situation because he knows how to adapt well. 

Victor is a betting favourite because he is a talented player who can fit well in any situation. The Nigerian system has proven to be a good place for Victor because he can refine his leadership skills as well. Since he and Dennis are the top strikers, you can expect reliable players leading the line for the Super Eagles.

Kalidou Koulibaly - Napoli and Senegal

Defence is one of the hardest tasks in soccer. This is largely due to the dynamic nature of forwards that they have to cover. While it’s impossible to stop every forward that’s put in front of these defenders, the ones who can limit the forwards’ productivity is a huge challenge. 

Kalidou Koulibaly makes defence look easy because he uses his wide frame to cover the space that forwards want to enter. He is reliable on both aerial duels and tackles because he knows the right timing. As a defender, his stats are not eye-popping but when you watch the games, you will see why he’s such a highly-touted defender.

He is not only strong but he is also agile. That kind of mix is perfect for a top-tier centre-back because all he has to work on is his communication. If the player can mix this well, you can expect success. Koulibaly has been stellar throughout his career because he has served as a wall in front of his goalkeepers.

For both club and country, Koulibaly is a reliable player who will always be the rock-solid wall that stops shots from going into the box. If you’re a bettor, you should always look at the teams that Koulibaly is playing for because he might surprise their forwards with his elite defence.

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Youssef En-Nesyri - Sevilla and Morocco

Youssef En-Nesyri was once an unknown prospect from Morocco but he managed to establish himself as one of the most promising strikers in the world. He has thrived ever since he moved to Sevilla in 2020 and he has scored solid goals consistently. 

If you are looking for a striker who you can rely on for years to come, En-Nesyri is your man. He is not only a talented striker but he has the timeline to be stellar for a long time. Morocco is improving at the international stage and it will be fun to watch both En-Nesyri and Hakimi lead the line for their squad.

Sevilla themselves should also be commended because they’ve believed in En-Nesyri ever since they signed him. Sevilla has always been a dark horse in La Liga but when you’re a betting man, you should try them out because they can pull off some surprises. 

Wilfried Zaha - Crystal Palace and the Ivory Coast

Wilfried Zaha is another member of the elite Ivory Coast forward lineup and he is probably their biggest name. While Haller and Kessié are solid players, Zaha has the pedigree to compete at the highest level of any competition. Crystal Palace has been a mediocre team over the years and Zaha has kept them afloat. 

That is a huge achievement for him because Palace has toiled away for multiple years but they manage to keep themselves in the biggest league in the world. In terms of skill, Zaha has always prided himself on his dribbling skills and that has worked out well for him because that has led to multiple goals and assists. 

If you’re looking for a reliable player who will always make the right decisions, Zaha is your man. Be it for Palace or the Ivorian squad, you can rely on Zaha. 

Those are just 10 of the best African players at the moment. As the years pass, there will be players who will reach the same level or possibly exceed them. African soccer is promising and it will be a shame if people don’t watch them. Hopefully, you can look at these players and try betting on their teams because all of them can carry their teams to victory. Good luck with your bets!

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Words: Cholo Martin

Image: Alamy



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