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Samatta, Ighalo, Moses Headline African Signings in January

European football’s January transfer window came to a close on Friday with clubs wrapping up deals at the last minute either to strengthen their title ambitions or survival of relegation.

A number of Africans were acquired by European clubs albeit most on short-term deals. Some have attributed this in part to the announcement that the Africa Cup of Nations will revert back to its traditional slot in January and February next year to avoid the rainy season in Cameroon. That means European clubs will be without their African stars for an extended period of time.

We highlight some of the major acquisitions of African players done across Europe’s top five leagues.


Odion Ighalo of Shanghai Greenland Shenhua celebrates after the award ceremony following the 2019 CFA Cup Final. (Photo by Fred Lee/Getty Images)

One of the most talked about signings of the window was and still is Manchester United’s acquisition of Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo on loan from Chinese Super League club Shanghai Shenhua until the end of the season. Ighalo was signed as a back-up to Marcus Rashford who is currently out with a back injury. Ighalo joined Shenhua in 2017 having previously played for English club Watford for whom he scored 39 goals in 99 matches. His loan deal has no option to buy.

Aston Villa signed Tanzanian captain Mbwana Samatta from Belgian champions KRC Genk for £10 million on a four-and-a-half-year contract. Samatta became the first Tanzanian to play and score in the Premier League when he netted on his debut in Villa’s 2-1 loss away to Bournemouth on Saturday.

Algerian midfielder Nabil Bentaleb joined Newcastle United from Bundesliga club Schalke 04 on loan until the end of the season. Bentaleb’s deal has an option to make it permanent. He played for Tottenham before leaving for Germany in 2017.


Senegal defender Moussa Wagué joined French Ligue 1 club OGC Nice on loan until the end of the season. COURTESY: TWITTER/OGC Nice

OGC Nice signed Senegalese full-back Moussa Wagué from La Liga champions Barcelona on loan until the end of the season. The French side has an option to buy the 21-year-old who had only made three appearances this season for Barcelona.

Lyon signed Zimbabwean striker Tino Kadewere from French second-tier club Le Havre for €15 million on a contract until 2024. Kadewere, who is top scorer in Ligue 2 with 18 goals, will remain at Le Havre on loan for the rest of the season.

Ghanaian striker Majeed Waris joined Strasbourg from Portuguese side Porto on loan with an obligation to buy for €2 milion. Waris was on the verge of joining Spanish side Alaves last year in August but the move collapsed dramatically.

Dijon signed Algerian midfielder Yassine Benzia from Lille for €1.5 million on a contract until 2023. Benzia spent the first half of this season on loan at Greek side Olympiacos.

Mid-table Angers acquired Ivorian left-back Souleyman Doumbia from Rennes on loan until the end of the season with an option to buy. Relegation-threatened Amiens SC agreed a loan deal for Ghanaian defender Nicholas Opoku from Italian club Udinese until the end of the season.

Meanwhile, Nimes Olympique, who are also struggling, made two signings as they try to preserve their top-flight status. Senegalese striker Moussa Koné was signed from Dynamo Dresden for €3 million while Moroccan midfielder Yassine Benrahou joined on loan from Bordeaux for the rest of the season.

Fellow league strugglers Metz signed Tunisian defender Dylan Bronn from KAA Gent for €4.5 million. Bronn’s contract runs until June 2024. Bronn, who represented Tunisia at the AFCON 2019, had struggled for game time at the Belgian club this season.



Champions League hopefuls Bayer Leverkusen signed defender Burkinabe Edmond Tapsoba from Portuguese club Vitoria Guimaraes, for an undisclosed fee. Tapsoba had attracted interest from a number of clubs, including Leicester City following strong performances. He had eight goals and two assists in all competitions this season.


Victor Moses of FC Internazionale in action during FC Internazionale training session at Appiano Gentile in Como, Italy. (Photo by Claudio Villa – Inter/Inter via Getty Images)

Title-chasing Inter Milan signed Nigerian winger Victor Moses from Premier League side Chelsea on loan until the end of the season with an option to make the deal permanent. Moses will work again with Antonio Conte who coached him while at Chelsea, where he won the league title and FA Cup.

Ghanaian midfielder Alfred Duncan signed for Fiorentina on loan from Sassuolo which will become permanent in the summer for €16 million. Duncan had spent four years at Sassuolo and netted one goal and provided five assists for them this season.

Mid-table Bologna signed Gambian forward Musa Barrow from fellow Serie A club Atalanta on an 18-month loan deal. Admirers of Barrow have previously said that he has the potential to become the most high-profile player in the West African nation’s history.

Serie A strugglers SPAL signed Burkinabe midfielder Bryan Dabo from Fiorentina on loan until the end of the season. Reports suggested that Dabo favoured a move to France but nothing materialised. It is believed that Dabo’s deal has an option to buy should SPAL avoid relegation to Serie B.


Youssef En Nesyri in action for Sevilla FC during the Copa del Rey. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Three-time Europa League winners Sevilla acquired Morocco striker Youssef En-Nesyri from fellow La Liga side Leganes for €20 million on a five-and-a-half-year contract. En-Nesyri was brought in to fill the gaps left by the departures of Munas Dabbur (Hoffenheim) and Javier Hernandez (LA Galaxy).

Leganes, meanwhile, brought in Ivorian striker Roger Assale from Swiss club Young Boys on loan until the end of the season as cover following the sale of En-Nesyri. The 22-year-old scored 15 goals in 63 games during his year-and-a-half spell at Leganes.


Outside Europe’s top five leagues, there were also some transfers involving high-profile Africans.

FILE PHOTO: Wilfried Bony training while at Swansea City. (Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images)

Ivory Coast striker Wilfried Bony joined Saudi Arabian club Al Ittihad on a free transfer. The Ivorian, who signed an 18-month deal, made his name at Welsh club Swansea City before joining Manchester City in 2015 in a deal that made him the most expensive African footballer then. Bony has not played competitively since Ivory Coast’s elimination in the AFCON 2019 quarterfinals.

Turkish club Besiktas signed Ghanaian midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng from Fiorentina on loan until the end of the season. Boateng, who is on the 12th club of his professional career, played 15 games for the Italians before switching to Turkey.

Nigerian winger Henry Onyekuru also made a move to Turkey joining Galatasaray from French side AS Monaco on loan until the end of the season. The 22-year-old has struggled to play for Monaco whom he joined in August last year. This is Onyekuru’s second loan spell at the club following an earlier one when he was at English club Everton.

English Championship club Reading FC signed Kenyan winger Ayub Masika from Beijing Renhe on loan until the end of the season. Masika has played for three clubs in Belgium (Anderlecht Lierse and Genk) where he began his playing career. Beijing Renhe, whom he joined in 2017, was relegated from the Chinese Super League last season.


Written by How Africa

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