We all know Yaya Banana, Gilles Yapi Yapo, Emmanuel Eboue and Gael Bigirimana are African players to watch out for this season. But, believe it or not, there are more salivating names out there. Here, Salim Masoud Said takes you through some not-so-well-known African players to watch out for this season; a mixture of new signings and/or those who could make an earth-shattering impact. On with it:
Karim El Ahmadi (Feyenoord to Aston Villa for £2m)
One ‘El of a player. The Karim of the crop. If Aston Villa start shouting “****ing El!”, or a variation of that expletive, then it won’t be because Karim El Ahmadi is playing badly. Last season, Villa bored everyone to moribund as Alex McLeish sought to complete step 2 of his mission to relegate every club in the midlands, albeit, fortunately (as Villa hold a fond place in my heart), to no avail. New manager Paul Lambert has vowed to reimburse Villa fans for the soul-destroying football of last season by promising to inject some catwalk football.
Certainly, the signing of El Ahmadi from Feyenoord speaks volumes of his intentions; for here is a player blessed with the absolute effortlessness in possession of the ball that not only makes him instantly stand out, but could potentially be positively contagious to the rest of the team. Nicknamed ‘The Governor’ in Holland for his ability to keep the ball with regal entitlement in midfield, and also being a superb reader of the game, there has been glowing praise from Lambert and team-mate Barry Bannan during pre-season. “It’s as if he’s playing by himself sometimes, really, because he’s so casual on the ball but he rarely ever gets caught on it,” Bannan told the Birmingham Mail. “He’s nice to watch, he’s easy on the eye the way he plays.”