Sadio Mane has left Liverpool to join Bayern Munich in a £35.1m transfer, prompting Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand to name his top five African players in Premier League history
Image: Bayern Munich)
The 30-year-old has left Liverpool after six seasons with the Reds, scoring 120 goals across 269 appearances and winning six trophies as part of Jurgen Klopp ‘s famous front three. Mohamed Salah – a man who helped make up that trident – joined Mane on Ferdinand’s list.
In a tweet posted after the £35.1 million deal between Bayern and Liverpool was completed on Wednesday, the Manchester United legend named his top five African stars and gave out some honourable mentions. “I’m going…” Ferdinand teased. “In no particular order; [Didier] Drogba, Salah, Mane, Yaya Toure, [Michael] Essien.” The former England captain then added: “Raaaaaa this is hard yenoooo. [Riyad] Mahrez won some trophies. I loved Jay-Jay [Okocha] also… mad player.”
Egyptian king Salah and Senegal star Mane have both reigned in recent years, as the Reds became one of the best teams on the planet under Klopp, but Drogba and Essien – who represented the Ivory Coast and Ghana respectively – were also instrumental in firing Chelsea to the top of world football.
Drogba netted 104 times in 259 games for the Blues, most memorably shining under Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti during two trophy-laden spells at Stamford Bridge. A trusted teammate, Essien spent eight seasons in West London, acting as a midfield powerhouse under multiple managers and chipping in with 17 goals.
Similarly, Toure’s best years came as Manchester City rose to power following their big-money takeover. Since from Barcelona in 2010, the rangy playmaker could truly run a game of football with his skill and athleticism, helping the Citizens win three Premier League titles in his eight years at the Etihad Stadium.
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Mahrez has now taken the mantle of best African on the east side of Manchester, lifting the same amount of titles as his Ivorian predecessor. But his finest achievement was helping Leicester City pull off one of modern football’s most remarkable feats as the Foxes became champions of England in 2016, a season which also saw the Algerian named PFA Player of the Year.
Okocha, meanwhile, spent four years at Bolton Wanderers and not only became a cult hero, but a club legend. The Nigerian’s time at the Reebok Stadium saw tricks, flicks and goals galore, helping the Trotters earn status as Premier League stalwarts until their relegation in 2012 and finishing as runners-up in the 2004 Football League Cup final, losing 2-1 to Middlesbrough in Cardiff.