The Premier League has an abundance of talent from across the world, with Europeans, South Americans, Asian players, and North American players all making a splash in English football. However, some of the African talent that has flooded into the Premier League since its inception has been remarkable, with a number of talented stars from countries as diverse as South Africa to Nigeria, to Ivory Coast really bringing the top flight of English football to life.
Let’s look at a few of the brightest sparks to come from African shores.
Drogba back at Chelsea
Back for his second spell with Chelsea, the forward has retired from international football after scoring 65 goals in 105 appearances for Ivory Coast making him the country’s all-time leading scorer. He began his career in French football, joining Marseille in 2003 before beginning his first spell at Stamford Bridge the following year, signing for £24m.
After scoring the penalty that won Chelsea the Champions League in 2012, Drogba left for spells with Shanghai Shenhua and Galatasaray before returning to Chelsea ahead of the new season. In his first spell with the Blues he made 226 appearances scoring exactly 100 goals.
He retains great popularity in the Ivory Coast and amongst the African continent in general with many following his fortunes.
Club career (to end of last season): 582 appearances 256 goals
International career: 42 appearances 23 goals
Toure a force at City
Manchester City have won the Premier League title twice in the last three years and both times Yaya Toure has been a mainstay in the midfield. Another Ivory Coast international, he has made 85 appearances for his country.
Toure had spells at Olympiacos and Monaco before joining Barcelona for £6.7m in 2007. Three years later he signed for Manchester City for £24m and has been an essential part of the side ever since. He has been voted African player of the year three times, in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Club career: 469 appearances 73 goals
International career: 83 appearances 16 goals
Togo’s all-time leading scorer with 27 goals, Adebayor has been in English football since 2006 save for a brief period on loan with Real Madrid. The striker joined Arsenal for £3m after time with Metz and Monaco and made over 100 appearances for the Gunners, scoring 46 goals.
He moved to Manchester City for a fee of around £25m in 2009 but fell out of the club’s first team plans with players such as Edin Dzeko and Carlos Tevez ahead of him. He moved to Spurs, first on loan and then on a permanent deal for about £5m. He was the club’s leading goalscorer last season, scoring 14 goals in 25 appearances.
Club career: 473 appearances 174 goals
International career: 59 appearances 28 goals
On Song for the Hammers
Song, who has made 47 appearances for Cameroon is back in the Premier League having joined West Ham on a loan deal from Barcelona. Now 27 he is best known in England for his six years at Arsenal who he joined in 2006.
The midfielder began his professional career with French club Bastia before Arsene Wenger signed him for a fee of about £1m. He had a successful spell in north London making over 100 appearances for the club before joining Barcelona in 2012 for £15m.
He made played 20 games as the side won La Liga in 2012-13 but first team appearances were scarcer the year after and before the end of the transfer window he made a return to the Premier League on a season-long loan.
Club career: 317 appearances 11 goals
International career: 47 appearances 0 goals
Odemwingie, now a Potter
Odemwingie first made his name playing for Lille in Ligue 1 before moving to Lokomotiv Moscow in 2007 for a fee thought to be $14m. He had a successful spell in the Russian Premier League and moved to the Premier League in 2010 when he joined West Brom for an undisclosed fee. He was angling for a move away from the Hawthorns and achieved it in 2013, joining Cardiff City for £2.25m.
He moved again, after Cardiff’s relegation from the Premier League, joining Stoke City in a player-exchange with Kenwyne Jones.
Club career: 399 appearances 116 goals
International career: 62 appearances 10 goals