Didier Drogba, Austin J J Okocha and Michael Essien were once the biggest exports from the African continent, commanding huge transfer fees from top clubs in Europe.
Times have changed though, and a new group of world-class African talents continue to prove their worth at the highest levels, with some of them presently featuring at the African Cup of Nations in Egypt.
Soccernet Nigeria looks at some of the biggest transfers involving African players.
5. Sadio Mane, €41.2million
The Senegal captain came to limelight while lifting RB Salzburg to the Austrian League and Cup double with his energetic displays before Southampton brought him to England.
Strong, fast and dynamic, he was perfectly built for the English league. Terrorizing the league’s best defences and scoring loads of goals became his favourite pastime.
By 2016, Liverpool had seen enough to justify splashing a sum of €41.2million on him, making Sadio the most expensive African player in history, at the time.
4. Mohamed Salah, €42 million
Now regarded as one of the best players in the world, the Egyptian striker’s first stint in England with Chelsea didn’t go as expected. He played sparingly and was allowed to leave for Italy on loan.
At Roma, he blossomed, following one match-winning performance with another.
Liverpool won the race ahead of other big clubs to sign him. The deal cost Liverpool 42 million euros, a then club-record fee.
3. Naby Keita, €60 million
After a successful but brief spell at Salzburg, Keita moved to Salzburg’s sister club, RB Leipzig, where he became an instant hit.
He made it into the Bundesliga Team of the Season and was also named in the Europa League’s Squad of the Season. His performance convinced Liverpool to fork out €60 million to secure his services. In his debut season at Anfield, Keita won the UEFA Champions League.
2. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, €64 million
After series of unconvincing loan spells at a few French clubs, Aubameyang finally produced the goods at St Etienne, earning himself a big-money transfer to BVB Dortmund.
It was in Germany that the Gabonese captain established himself as one of the world’s most potent strikers.
Pierre turned into a bride with many suitors but it was Arsenal that agreed to sign him for €64 million. This made him, at the time, the most expensive African player ever.
1. Riyadh Mahrez, €67.8 million
The Algerian arrived England unceremoniously from lowly Le Havre and quickly aided Leicester’s cause of gaining promotion to the Premier League.
Mahrez then became a prominent member of the team as they avoided relegation in their first year back to the top flight.
In an incredible following season, the mesmerizing midfielder was one of the stars of a Leicester side that became the champions of England against massive odds.
Manchester City thereafter paid 67.8 million euros to convince the Foxes to part with their prized asset, making Mahrez the most expensive African footballer ever.