Salah, Drogba, Toure: Who is the best African to play in the Premier League?

Micah Richards and Alan Shearer rank the top 10 African players in Premier League history

The 10 greatest African footballers have been ranked by the Match of the Day panel in their latest instalment of the top 10 series.

MOTD top 10 became quite the revelation when it was introduced way back in lockdown and the series led by Gary Linekar, with the help of Alan Shearer and Micah Richards, has gone from strength to strength since then.

In the most recent episode released via BBC Sounds on April 11th, the panel (Shearer and Richards) discuss their lists of the top 10 African footballers in Premier League history.

And let us say this… it’s pretty controversial this time.

Check out both of their top 10s below:

Alan Shearer’s top 10 African footballers

#10: Jay-Jay Okocha

#9: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

#8: Emmanuel Adebayor

#7: Nwankwo Kanu

#6: Michael Essien

#5: Riyad Mahrez

#4: Yaya Toure

#3: Sadio Mane

#2: Mohamed Salah

#1: Dider Drogba

LEICESTER, ENGLAND – MARCH 21: BBC Presenter Alan Shearer during the Emirates FA Cup Quarter Final match between Leicester City and Manchester United at The King Power Stadium on March 21, 2021 in Leicester, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images)

Micah Richards’ top 10 African footballers

#10: Nwankwo Kanu

#9: Emmanuel Adebayor

#8: Jay-Jay Okocha

#7: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

#6: Michael Essien

#5: Riyad Mahrez

#4: Sadio Mane

#3: Yaya Toure

#2: Didier Drogba

#1: Mohamed Salah

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 19: Former footballer Micah Richards prior to the Premier League match between Manchester City and West Ham United at Etihad Stadium on February 19, 2020 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)


Before we get to the obvious debate here, let’s first start lower down. Jay-Jay Okocha in at number 10 for Shearer? The man was so good they named him twice, so to have Kanu in above him we think is rather questionable.

Jay-Jay Okocha is a one of the most skilful players in history
Jay-Jay Okocha is a one of the most skilful players in history

Although, Kanu even surpasses Aubameyang in Shearer’s opinion. The Nigerian international notched 54 goals in 273 Premier League appearances, a goal ratio which pales in comparison to Aubameyang’s record of 68 goals in 128 games.

Interestingly, Essien fails to break into the top five for either pundit. The iconic Ghanaian enforcer was a mainstay in the heart of Chelsea’s midfield for an impressive nine seasons, winning two Premier League titles, but the panel instead opted for Manchester City star Mahrez.

LONDON, ENGLAND – MAY 06: Michael Essien of Chelsea celebrates scoring the first goal of the game during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final Second Leg match between Chelsea and Barcelona at Stamford Bridge on May 6, 2009 in London, England. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

Mane and Yaya Toure chop and change for the final podium place in either man’s list, both are respectable inclusions that warrant their lofty placement.

Neither, though, could agree on who was the greatest.

Richards points to Salah’s incredible goal record at Liverpool, his ratio of 0.63 goals per game makes him the third most prolific player in Premier League history, behind only Sergio Aguero and Thierry Henry. The Egyptian King also has a PFA Player of the Season award in his favour.

Mohamed Salah applies the finishing touch to his wonder goal vs Manchester City

Whilst Shearer believes that Drogba’s four Premier League titles and four FA Cups, along with his historic goal record in cup finals – nine goals in nine appearances – is enough to set him apart as the greatest.

Didier Drogba Chelsea
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – APRIL 03: Didier Drogba of Chelsea scores his team’s second goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on April 3, 2010 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

You could make an argument for both and like always with these debates, ultimately, it’s down to personal opinion.

It’s sure darn interesting hearing the experts argue it out, though.

Manchester City 2-2 Liverpool highlights (The Football Terrace):

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