Salah, Kalou, Onazi: 5 African Stars Set for EPL Moves in January
The January transfer window brings with it intense speculation and endless rumour. A handful of Africa’s finest stars have been caught up in the maelstrom, while a number of Premier League sides seek the kind of signing that can galvanise a season or fuel a title push.
This article focuses on five Africans who could be set to move to the EPL in the coming weeks.
It's no secret that Senegalese superstar Cheikhou Kouyate has long fostered a desire to test himself in the Premier League.
Liverpool and Arsenal have both been linked with a move, and according to the Daily Star, current club Anderlecht agreed before the transfer window that Kouyate would be permitted to leave.
Kouyate is a 6'4" centre-back who is steadily building a reputation for himself within African football. He was one of Senegal's star men at the London Olympics in 2012 and has impressed in Brussels since arriving in 2006.
Both Arsenal and Liverpool have been keen to improve their options in defence. The Gunners had previously been prevented from signing the player due to work permit restrictions, but since he received Belgian citizenship, that is no longer an issue.
Kouyate could be a big success in the Premier League.
Salomon Kalou has come a long way since leaving Chelsea for Lille in 2012.
The forward has scored goals like never before in Ligue 1 and has also improved his influence.
He spent long periods as a peripheral figure at Stamford Bridge and with the Cote d’Ivoire national side, but he is now a key man for club and country.
At the end of last season, he was in irrepressible form, particularly in games against Reims and Lorient in which he dissected the opposition.
This term, he delivered Man of the Match performances against PSG, Nantes and Bastia.
It's hardly surprising his fine form has prompted rumours of a return to the Premier League—consistent, lethal wide players are at a premium and a number of elite sides would be tempted by Kalou.
While Lille president Michel Seydoux has insisted that the Ivorian won’t be leaving the club in January, as reported by the Daily Star, Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool continue to covet the talented forward.
It looks like Merseyside could be set for another famous transfer tussle. This time, the subject is a young Nigerian, defensive midfielder Ogenyi Onazi.
The Lazio man has been one of the Super Eagles’ star performers during 2013. He came into the side during the Cup of Nations at the beginning of the year and provided balance and defensive rigour. For periods over the last year, it was easy to forget that Onazi was only 20.
His strong performances have led Liverpool and Everton to both crave his signature. Both teams would provide an exciting environment for Onazi to develop his litany of talents, and either side would benefit greatly from his services and his energetic displays in the centre of the pitch.
Onazi’s own words seem to suggest that the Reds hold the upper hand, per the Express:
I would jump at the chance to play in the Premier League. Liverpool? They are a huge team and are attractive to any footballer. I could see myself playing for them.
According to Le Buteur via Goal.com, the Algerian forward has made no secret of his desire to leave Internazionale. Despite only arriving in the summer, the young striker has made scant impression in Lombardy and is keen to improve his playing time ahead of the World Cup.
The North Africans are probably the continent’s weakest representatives at the tournament and will head to Brazil with low expectations. Nonetheless, their opening group draw has been particularly favourable, and the Desert Foxes could feasibly reach the knockout stages.
If they are to do this, they will need to harness rare attacking talents such as Belfodil.
The striker needs minutes and probably needs a loan deal to get them.
West Ham have been the main suitors linked with Belfodil, and as reported by the Independent on Thursday, they look to be closing in on a deal.
The Hammers are desperately short of firepower and have identified Belfodil as a potential problem-solver.
The Algerian certainly has the potential to be a fine forward, but it may be too much to expect him to adapt to the Premier League quickly enough to save Sam Allardyce’s men.
Mohamed Salah has been linked with a move to the Premier League for some time, per the Daily Star.
If the young Egyptian’s trajectory is anything to go by, the talented forward will soon be gracing the world’s greatest division.
Since moving to Basel in 2012, Salah has thrived in both the Europa League and the Champions League. He has also become a Swiss champion and is now a key member of the Egypt national side.
The forward isn’t yet the finished article. His shooting can be wayward. He may not necessarily have the physique for the Premier League, either. However, his potential is undoubted, and Salah has already done enough to show that he can go to the very top of the sport.
Numerous major European sides have been linked with a move for the 21-year-old.
In any case, if Salah is set on the EPL, Liverpool, Manchester United and Spurs are his primary options.