With players such as Mohammed Salah, Riyad Mahrez and Sadio Mane lighting up the premier league, and others such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Naby Keita impressing across the continent, we may well be witnessing the beginning of a golden age for African football. Given the size of the talent pool to select from, football agents such as Chris Nathaniel, who founded NVA Entertainment, intend to explore the untapped potential. With this in mind, we have suggested a few of the most promising young African players to watch out for in 2018.
One of the most exciting young talents attracting the attention of Europe’s big clubs right now is the Ivorian midfielder Franck Kessie. After a year spent on loan at Cesena, Kesie will be back playing in Serie A for Atalanta this season and his performances will be watched closely by some of football’s biggest names. Following in the footsteps of Yaya Toure playing in central midfield for Cote d’Ivoire, Kesie has some large boots to fill, but based on his early performances for club and country he may well have the talent required to do so.
Another young player who has emerged to be an exciting prospect is the 22-year-old Senegalese winger Balde Diao Keita. After progressing through Barcelona’s famous academy, Keita made the move to Serie A side Lazio, where during the 2016-17 season he cemented his place in the starting line-up. After impressing in both domestic and European competitions, Keita secured a move to Ligue 1 giants Monaco in the summer of 2017 where he acquired the number fourteen shirt vacated by the outgoing Tiemoue Bakayoko, now of Chelsea. With his composure on the ball and regular contributions in front of goal, Keita is no doubt one to look out for in 2018.
Concluding this list is the Newcastle and D. R. Congo defender Chancel Mbemba. Twenty-two-year old Mbemba, who missed out on regular appearances for the Magpies last season due to stiff competition in the centre of defence, is nonetheless a very exciting prospect and will be hoping to force his way into the side in the premier league this season. Mbemba has proven his versatility and importance to the Congolese national side in recent times by playing both in central defence and as a holding midfielder when required, where his physical attributes and passing ability make him well suited.