The Nigerian forward’s move from Lille to Napoli and a couple of other completed deals during this summer have shaken up the rankings of the continent’s costliest stars
Victor Osimhen is now a Napoli player after agreeing to join the Serie A giants in a transfer that has set I Partenopei back a few million euros.
But where does the former Lille lad rank on the list of Africa’s most expensive players of all time?
Sadio Mane, 2016: Southampton to Liverpool – $42.5 million
Four short years ago, Liverpool snapped Sadio Mane off the hands of Southampton, making the Senegal international the most expensive African player in history.
Mane’s transfer fee topped the $32m Manchester City paid Swansea City for Wilfried Bony in January 2015.
Today he only sits in 10th place, waiting for the next significant transfer to push him out of the top ten.
But the forward who was signed for scoring 21 goals in 67 Premier League appearances for the Saints has more than repeated the trick at Anfield, netting 81 goals and creating 34 assists in 170 games for the Reds so far.
Even more important than the goals have been the trophies, with Mane helping Jurgen Klopp’s side win the UEFA Champions League and the Premier League in successive seasons.
There is more still to come from the reigning African Footballer of the Year who only turned 28 in April.
Hakim Ziyech: Ajax to Chelsea, 2020 – $43.5 million
Back in February, in the thick of the rampaging coronavirus pandemic, Chelsea saw the need to add another gifted African star to their playing personnel, and the Blues coughed out $43.5 million to convince Ajax to release Hakim Ziyech.
A 26-year-old winger who can also play as a No 10, Ziyech has been the creative spark of the Ajax side that bewitched the rest of Europe with their daring attacking football over the past couple of seasons.
A three-time Ajax Player of the Year award winner, Ziyech was named in the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League squad of the season after helping Ajax to the semi-finals.
He was equally influential as the Dutch champions reached the final of the Europa League in 2017.
Forty-eight goals and 82 assists in just 165 games for Ajax, suggests Ziyech may be the key Frank Lampard needs to unlock opposition defences next campaign.
Mohamed Salah: AS Roma to Liverpool, 2017 – $44.5 million
Salah’s first spell in England for Chelsea was underwhelming, and no one would have blamed the Egyptian forward if he never wanted to return to the Premier League after moving on loan to AS Roma.
With the Giallorossi, Salah developed into one of Serie A’s most exciting forwards, his pace, trickery, and finishing giving defenders nightmares.
In his two seasons in the Italian capital, the Egypt international made a total of 83 appearances for the club, scoring 34 goals.
Shortly after, he was back in England after Liverpool parted with almost $45 million, and this time, incredible success followed.
Several individual awards have come flowing into the former Basel star, including the Premier League Player of the Year award as well as two Premier League Golden Boots.
But none can outshine helping Liverpool return to the pinnacle of English football. Money well spent.
Achraf Hakimi: Real Madrid to Inter Milan, 2020 – $53 million
Achraf Hakimi joined the Real Madrid academy in 2006 but spent the past two seasons on loan at Borussia Dortmund, where he forged his reputation as one of Europe’s best-attacking fullbacks.
The youngster was widely expected to return to Santiago Bernabeu after several stellar showings for Dortmund in the Champions League and Bundesliga, where he claimed important goals and assists.
But Antonio Conte quickly identified the 21-year-old Moroccan as his long-term right wing-back solution with Antonio Candreva entering the twilight of his career and Victor Moses only on loan from Chelsea. Inter Milan then paid $53 million in July to secure the services of the highly-rated fullback until 2025.
Naby Keita: Leipzig to Liverpool, 2018 – $64 million
In the summer of 2017, Liverpool agreed to a deal to sign one of the Bundesliga’s most complete midfielders in RB Leipzig’s Naby Keita.
For a footballer who could play as a number eight and a number 10, win loads of tackles, dribble with ease, pick apart a defence with a clever through ball, Keita would have cost more than just $64 million.
But the Reds appeased the Red Bulls by letting the Guinea international stay in Germany for one more year before moving to Anfield in July 2018.
Despite the concession, it was still a costly deal that surpassed the club record fee Liverpool paid to Newcastle for Andy Carroll in 2011.
But Keita lifted both the UEFA Champions League and the FIFA Club World Cup in his debut season with Liverpool before playing his part as the Reds won their first-ever Premier League title last month.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 2018: Dortmund to Arsenal – $71 million
One of legendary Arsene Wenger’s last signings as Arsenal manager was his biggest – the capture of the prolific Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The Gabonese star scored 21 goals in 24 matches in his final season at Borussia Dortmund, taking his total tally for BVB to 141 goals since joining from Saint-Etienne in July 2013.
It was, therefore, not a surprise that the Bundesliga side wanted more for their prized asset.
But after weeks of negotiations, 71 million dollars exchanged hands, and Aubameyang began his England adventure.
It’s not been smooth sailing for Arsenal in the past few years, but Aubameyang has remained consistent in front of goals, winning the Premier League Golden Boot with 22 goals last season.
The Gunners skipper finally lifted his first trophy with the London side after scoring a brace to help Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 in the final of the 2020 FA Cup.
Riyad Mahrez, Leicester City to Man City, 2018 – $76 million
After four failed bids, Manchester City eventually completed the signing of Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City for a club-record $76m in July 2018.
The Algerian winger had won the heart of City boss Pep Guardiola with his wizardry and playmaking ability during an auspicious time with the Foxes.
Mahrez, who joined Leicester in January 2014, inspired the club to win the Sky Bet Championship that year before playing an influential role in their infamous Premier League title triumph in the 2015/16 season.
Once Guardiola got his man, he then unleashed him on the rest of the Premier League, as the Citizens romped to a league, FA Cup, and EFL Cup treble in Mahrez’s first campaign with the Citizens.
Mahrez also lifted the African Cup of Nations with Algeria last year.
Cedric Bakambu: Villarreal to Beijing Guoan, 2018 – $83 million
It’s been two years since Beijing Guoan surprised the football world by completing an unbelievable African-record move to sign Villarreal forward Cedric Bakambu for £65m.
The DR Congo international, who was 26 years old at the time, penned a four-year deal with the Imperial Guards and moved to the Chinese Super League after excelling at Villarreal.
Bakambu scored 48 goals in 105 matches for Villarreal, and he has been equally prolific for Beijing Guoan for whom he has scored 39 goals and made 14 assists in 57 games.
Bakambu also helped the club clinch the Chinese FA Cup in his maiden season.
Nicolas Pepe: Lille to Arsenal, 2019 – $94 million
The Ivorian has just been knocked off the exalted position he assumed only last summer.
Nicolas Pepe spent only two years with Lille before joining Arsenal on a five-year deal for a club-record transfer fee of $94 million, surpassing the $71 million spent on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the previous year.
Pepe, at the time, had enjoyed a sensational campaign with Les Dogues, scoring 22 goals (the second most in Ligue 1), creating 11 assists (the most in the league), earning himself a spot in Ligue 1’s Team of the Year.
His stats were so incredible that Barcelona’s Lionel Messi was the only other player to score more than 20 goals and provide more than ten assists in Europe’s top five leagues last season.
The 24-year-old has not hit the ground running in England, but he provided the assist for the winning goal to help Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 in the final of the 2020 FA Cup.
Victor Osimhen; Lille to Napoli, 2020 – $96 million
More than two decades after Austin Jay Jay Okocha sat atop this list following his £14 million move from Fenerbahce to PSG, another Nigerian star has reached the summit as the most expensive African player ever.
No one had heard of Victor Osimhen until he smashed in an unprecedented ten goals to help Nigeria lift the 2015 U-17 World Cup in Chile.
And after a forgettable spell at Wolfsburg, the 21-year-old exploded at Sporting Charleroi, scoring 20 times and earning a €12 million move to Lille.
And just 12 months and 18 goals after, Osimhen has seen his stock risen high enough to convince Gennaro Gattuso that he’s the right man to build the next Napoli project.
The Lagos-born striker is a born winner, and 96 million dollars may likely end up being a bargain for Africa’s hottest property at the moment.
NB: The figures quoted include add-ons.