The best XI of U23 African footballers currently playing in Europe

Fulham FC v Arsenal FC - Premier League

As far as the footballing world goes, Europe really is the Promised Land.

If you can make it big in the doldrums of European club footballs unforgiving terrain, then you can truly say you have made it to the top of the game.

Sadly, for some young players, it can prove simply a bridge too far - that step up to the big league’s just far too great a leap both mentally and physically.

This is especially true for young African players who have to leave home for entirely foreign cultures and lands in an effort to prove themselves on the biggest stage.

Nowadays, European clubs invest millions in their African scouting networks, all desperately vying to become the team to unearth the next Riyad Mahrez, Sadio Mane, or Mohamed Salah.

Thankfully, as a result of that heightened investment, the European leagues are littered with supremely talented young African players all making their mark for some of the biggest names in the world of football.

Now we all know what you are thinking - what would an XI, made up of the best under 23 African players currently plying their trade in Europe look like? 

The answer; pretty special indeed.

Andre Onana (Goalkeeper, Ajax)

Ajax v SL Benfica - UEFA Champions League Group E

The Cameroonian stopper is undoubtedly one of the brightest goalkeeping prospects on the planet right now.

Having come up through the ranks of Barcelona's famous youth system, he was sold to Ajax for just £135,000 and he has not looked back since.

His recent shift for the Dutch side as they upset Real Madrid in the Champions League only went further to prove the bags of potential he possesses.

With a formidable record of 41 clean sheets in 87 Eredivisie outings, Onana has once again caught the eye of some of Europe's superpowers and Ajax will face an uphill battle to hang onto the talented gloveman.

Noussair Mazraoui (RB, Ajax)

Yet another sparkling young talent getting it done on the biggest stage in club football.

Moroccan full-back Noussair Mazraoui looks the absolute business at Ajax, where he has been racking up impressive performance after impressive performance.

Having been at Ajax all his life, the 21-year-old is repaying the faith shown in him, scoring four goals and assisting four already this season.

He won't soon forget hunting down a ball that looked destined to be going out at the Bernebeau before setting his side away to score in one of the Spanish superclubs greatest humblings at home.

One thing is for certain; the future is very bright for Mazraoui.

Alfa Semedo (CB, Espanyol)

Primarily a defensive midfielder, Semedo has also been known to play at the heart of the defence - which is where he finds himself in our line-up.

At 6 ft 2, the man from Guinea Bissau cuts an imposing figure. He even has a Champions League goal to his name and is currently on loan from Benfica at Espanyol.

The 22-year-old has exactly what it takes to become a top quality enforcer on the European stage, and is making all the right moves to ensure that happens.

Chidozie Awaziem (CB, Caykur Rizespor)

While Chidozie Awaziem may be playing his football with relatively unknown Turkish side Caykur Rizespor at the moment, the fact that he is on loan from Portuguese giants FC Porto says everything it needs to about his potential.

Catching the eye of a club like Porto is no small feat and at just 22 years of age, the Nigerian has plenty of time to impress his employers.

At 6 ft 2, he possesses all the attributes to become a highly sought-after defender and Porto will be expecting big things from him.

Achraf Hakimi (LB, Borussia Dortmund)

Achraf Hakimi really does have the world at his feet right now.

The 20-year-old Moroccan fullback is currently on loan at Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund from European champions Real Madrid.

That's right, big, big clubs.

Tottenham Hotspur v Borussia Dortmund - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg

With seven assists and three goals already to his name in all competitions this season, as well as the ability to play on both flanks in the defensive line, it is easy to see why Achraf is so highly valued at the Bernabeu.

Achraf already has a Champions League winners medal tucked safely away as well, having played a part in Real Madrid's triumph in 2017/18 - and all before his 21st birthday.

Achraf is undoubtedly a special talent - watch this space.

Wilfred Ndidi (CM, Leicester City)

Wilfred Ndidi was given some almighty boots to fill when he was brought in by Leicester City to replace N'golo Kante.

Having moved from Belgian side KRC Genk, Ndidi initially struggled to come to terms with the pace and rigours of the Premier League.

However, at just 22, the Nigerian defensive midfielder is now a nailed on starter at the King Power Stadium and continues to grow into the English game.

Amadou Diawara (CM, Napoli)

With 82 Serie A appearances for Napoli already to his name, Amadou Diawara was a certain choice to partner Ndidi in the engine room.

SSC Napoli v AC Chievo Verona - Serie A

Signed from Bologna in 2016, the Guinean has been a regular fixture in one of Italian football's top teams.

Serie A is a notoriously hard nut to crack, especially in the more defensive positions, so the fact that Diawara already has so much experience under his belt just goes to show how good he is.

Franck Kessie (CAM, AC Milan)

Perhaps the most proven player in this side with 90 Serie A appearances to his name, Ivorian Franck Kessie has an obscenely bright future ahead of him.

You simply cannot ignore the fact that he is a regular starter at Italian superclub AC Milan where he has racked up nine goals and seven assists in his two seasons with the Rossoneri.

With 27 national caps as well, the burly 22-year-old has already shown plenty of promise and with his best years ahead of him, could become a real household name in European circles.

Alex Iwobi (LW, Arsenal)

Arsenal FC v Watford FC - Premier League

Arsenal star Alex Iwobi is finally starting to fulfill the massive potential he has shown glimpses of over the past few seasons.

With Unai Emery handing him more and more game time, the Nigerian flyer has registered seven assists so far this season, while scoring four goals of his own.

The folks at the Emirates will be hoping for big things from Iwobi in the coming months and years and there certainly is a burgeoning weight of expectation resting on his shoulders.

Bertrand Traore (RW, Olympique Lyonnais)

Now here is a name Chelsea fans will recognise.

Traore is one of a glut of young starlets who simply could not cut the mustard at Stamford Bridge in their early careers.

However, the Burkinabe speedster is making quite the case for himself at Lyon this season where he has already netted nine goals and registered four assists in all competitions.

Traore possesses genuine raw pace and can be almost unplayable on his day.

With 49 appearances for national side Burkina Faso behind him, we can be expecting to hear a lot more from Traore in the coming years

Maxwel Cornet (ST, Olympique Lyonnais)

Olympique Lyonnais v Manchester City - UEFA Champions League Group F

Ring a bell Manchester City fans?

Maxwel Cornet announced himself to the world when he scored Lyon's first goal in a surprise 2-1 win over English giants Manchester City earlier this season.

His smashing finish from outside the box capped what was one of his finest performances yet.

The Ivorian ran the City defence ragged on a night where he could have easily bagged himself a hat trick, hitting the bar and fluffing another guilt-edged chance in the first half.

His intelligent movement and scintillating speed were simply too much for City to handle as Cornet showed exactly what he is capable of.

We see goals in Cornet's future - lots and lots of goals.

And there you have it - quite the formidable band of footballers if you ask us.

This team could do some real damage on the European stage and should they continue on their current trajectories, will be absolutely bossing it in the coming years. The Promised Land is truly theirs for the taking.

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