Skip to main content

Ranked! The 10 best African players right now

Sadio Mane, one of the 10 best African players right now
(Image credit: Getty)

Who are the best African players right now? The continent continues to produce its fair share of world-class footballers, so picking out the top 10 was no easy task.

We've tried to balance recent form and overall quality, and have come up with a list which features exhilarating attackers, a defensive colossus and five Premier League-based stars.

So, let's kick things off with one of those African talents who plies his trade in England's top flight...

Best African players right now: 10. Wilfried Zaha

Wilfried Zaha

(Image credit: Getty)

Zaha has just enjoyed his highest-scoring season at club level, notching 15 goals in 37 games as Crystal Palace (opens in new tab) excelled under Patrick Vieira.

The Abidjan-born forward continues to give full-backs twisted blood with his pace and trickery, but he's become much more effective in and around the penalty area in recent years.

Zaha was unable to help Ivory Coast qualify for the 2022 World Cup, so he's running out of time to appear on the biggest stage of all.

9. Victor Osimhen

Victor Osimhen

(Image credit: Getty)

Reportedly a transfer target for Arsenal (opens in new tab), Tottenham (opens in new tab) and Bayern Munich (opens in new tab), Osimhen has the type of track record which means it's no surprise he's a wanted man.

The Nigerian has averaged roughly a goal every other game across the last four seasons, including 14 strikes in 27 Serie A outings last term. Napoli (opens in new tab) are loath to lose him.

Eleven goals in 21 appearances for Nigeria is an impressive tally too, and his absence from this year's Africa Cup of Nations was keenly felt by the Super Eagles.

8. Sebastien Haller

Sebastien Haller

(Image credit: Getty)

David Moyes won't have many regrets from his second spell as West Ham (opens in new tab) manager, but he must wonder if things could have been different for Haller.

The Hammers sold the Ivorian to Ajax (opens in new tab) in January 2021, and the Dutch giants have been thanking the transfer gods ever since. Haller has been phenomenal in the Netherlands, scoring 47 goals in 66 games in all competitions.

Born in the suburbs of Paris, Haller pledged his allegiance to Ivory Coast in 2020 after representing the country of his birth at youth level.

7. Franck Kessie

Franck Kessie

(Image credit: Getty)

Barcelona (opens in new tab)-bound Kessie is another Ivorian who makes the cut. The box-to-box midfielder was an integral part of AC Milan's Serie A title triumph last season, making 31 appearances as the Rossoneri pipped arch-rivals Inter (opens in new tab) to the scudetto.

It's not hard to see why Barcelona were so keen to sign him: Kessie is a true midfield all-rounder, able to contribute in every phase of the game.

Still only 25, the former Atalanta man has already won 58 caps for Ivory Coast, for whom he made his senior debut at 17.

6. Edouard Mendy

Edouard Mendy

(Image credit: Getty)

Chelsea spent just £22m on Mendy in 2020, a fee which he repaid in his debut campaign with some fine performances as the Blues won the Champions League.

Now widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, Mendy was instrumental to Senegal's Africa Cup of Nations triumph in February, before helping his country qualify for the World Cup the following month.

An expert shot-stopper, the former Rennes custodian is also a dominant presence inside the penalty area. 

5. Achraf Hakimi

Achraf Hakimi

(Image credit: Getty)

Still only 23, Hakimi's already played for four of Europe's biggest clubs in Real Madrid (opens in new tab), Borussia Dortmund (opens in new tab), Inter and PSG (opens in new tab).

An attack-minded full-back who can play on either flank and higher up the pitch if needed, the Morocco international loves to get forward either by overlapping or underlapping.

Indeed, Hakimi isn't just a flier: he also has the technical ability to come infield and create, as he does with aplomb for club and country. 

4. Riyad Mahrez

Riyad Mahrez

(Image credit: Getty)

No team in Europe's top five leagues scored more goals than Manchester City in 2021/22, and it was Mahrez who finished as the Premier League champions' top scorer in all competitions.

The Algeria international made the net bulge 24 times in total. Opposing full-backs know that he wants to cut onto his left foot, but stopping him is much harder than it sounds.

It was a disappointing season for Mahrez at international level, though, as Algeria flopped at the Cup of Nations and failed to qualify for Qatar.

3. Kalidou Koulibaly

Kalidou Koulibaly

(Image credit: Getty)

Koulibaly is good enough to play for most teams in the world, so Napoli can be thankful that he's now spent eight seasons at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

Silverware has been hard to come by during that time, but Koulibaly has been consistently excellent at the heart of Napoli's backline. He's just as important to Senegal, with whom he won the Cup of Nations earlier this year.

Physically strong and dominant in the air, Koulibaly's passing range and ball-carrying ability make him an asset in possession too.

2. Sadio Mane

Sadio Mane

(Image credit: Getty)

Liverpool (opens in new tab) are losing Mane this summer, and it won't be easy for them to replace him. 

Senegal's star player has been magnificent throughout his seven-year spell at Anfield, and he will be sorely missed by Jurgen Klopp's side next term. In many ways he's the perfect fit for Klopp's Liverpool: hard-working, energetic, dynamic and a superb technical footballer.

Mane is also a leader, as he demonstrated at both the Africa Cup of Nations and in Senegal's successful World Cup qualification campaign.

1. Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah

(Image credit: Getty)

The winner of the PFA Player of the Year in 2021/22, Salah was exceptional as Liverpool won both domestic cups and finished as runners-up in the Premier League and the Champions League.

The Egyptian scored 31 goals in 51 games in all competitions. A devastating finisher, he's also a magician in tight areas and can beat defenders with either pace or trickery.

There was disappointment at the Cup of Nations and in the World Cup play-offs, but Salah's status as Africa's best player is undisputed.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Greg Lea is a freelance football journalist who's filled in wherever FourFourTwo needs him since 2014. He became a Crystal Palace fan after watching a 1-0 loss to Port Vale in 1998, and once got on the scoresheet in a primary school game against Wilfried Zaha's Whitehorse Manor (an own goal in an 8-0 defeat).