Top 10 Young African Football Talents To Watch In 2023

Azzedine Ounahi best young African football talents
(Photo by ANP via Getty Images)

Football is more than just a game in Africa. It is a passion that brings together people from all walks of life.

Over the years, African footballers have made their mark on the world stage, with some of the greatest players of all time hailing from the continent.

The continent has never been without youngsters who showed a lot of promises from the beginning, went on to have blossoming careers, and also etched their names in the history books of not just only African football but world football in general.

Africa has produced some of the best players in world football, with the likes of Samuel Eto’o, Didier Drogba, Yaya Toure, Jay-Jay Okocha, Kanu Nwankwo, Mohammed Salah, Riyad Mahrez among others all hailing from the continent.

The continent has proven over the years to be a breeding ground for youngsters, with African nations excelling at international youth tournaments.

Africa is not without promising youngsters at the moment, and with that in mind, we take a look at 10 players who we believe, based on their precocious talents, will go on to become household names in football for a long time.

This list is in no particular order.

1. Gift Orban

Gift Orban best young African football players
(Photo by Ahmad Mora/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
  • Country: Nigeria
  • Club: Gent
  • Age: 20
  • Position: Striker.

Napoli, AC Milan, are just two of the clubs who have made their intentions known for the services of previously unknown Nigerian striker Gift Orban.

Orban shot into the limelight with Gent after a January transfer move and has been scoring goals aplenty and breaking records on his way.

One of them is the four goals against Zulte Waregem in a 6-2 win and his UEFA Europa Conference League 3 minutes 20 seconds hat-trick that broke Muhammad Salah’s record for the fastest hat-trick in UEFA Club competitions.

12 goals in 10 appearances already for Gent in all competitions in just his first three months is giving an Erling Haaland vibe.

2. Hannibal Mejbri

Hannibal Mejbri young African football talents 2023
(Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)
  • Country: Tunisia
  • Club: Manchester United
  • Age: 20
  • Position: Midfielder.

This is one player a lot of Manchester United fans and football enthusiasts have been keeping their tracks on since joining Manchester United as a 17-year-old in 2019.

He was signed for a deal expected to be around £10 million with add-ons included and rose quickly through the ranks with the U23 and even making his debut for Manchester United senior team.

The central midfielder is on loan with championship Club Birmingham City announcement five assists and a goal in five assists and a goal in 32 games.

After a successful season with the Championship club, it is left to be seen what role he will play for Red Devils next season.

3. Pape Matar Sarr

Pape Matar Sarr
(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)
  • Country: Senegal
  • Club: Tottenham
  • Age: 20
  • Position: Midfielder.

Pape Matar Sarr is an AFCON winner with the Senegalese national team at age 20 after their triumph in 2022 in Cameroon.

The midfielder is on the books of Tottenham Hotspur; he has made seven appearances for Spurs in the Premier League this season and one UEFA Champions outing.

The central midfielder joined Spurs in 2021, and he is considered one of Africa’s best young players.

The 20-year-old Senegalese is a ball-carrying midfielder with an incredible work ethic and ball retention ability.

4. Mohammed Kudus

Mohamed Kudus best young African football players
(Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)
  • Country: Ghana
  • Club: Ajax
  • Age: 22
  • Position: Attacking midfielder.

There is always this huge feeling that Muhammad Kudus will still play for one of Europe’s big teams in the top five leagues in Europe.

His performances and numbers for the Dutch Eredivisie club Ajax have been a pointer to that.

This season alone, the Ghanaian, from his attacking midfield position, has scored 11 goals and made two assists in 25 league appearances and four goals in six UEFA Champions League games.

He also scored two goals for Ghana at the FIFA World Cup in 2022, where they played just three group games.

What makes Mohamed Kudus one of the best young African footballers is his superior technical abilities.

His passing, shooting, tackling, dribbling, and movement are impressive.

5. Felix Afena-Gyan

Felix Afena-Gyan top young African soccer players
(Photo by Franco Romano/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
  • Country: Ghana
  • Club: Ajax
  • Age: 22
  • Position: Attacking midfielder.

Although, Felix Afena-Gyan has slowed down a bit since he burst into the top flight of Italian football fans in October 2021, when he scored two stunning late goals for Roma against Genoa.

Despite being unknown even in Ghana before that Roma debut, Felix still made his national team debut for the Black Stars against Nigeria in the World Cup playoffs last year in the home tie.

He has gone on to make seven appearances for the Black Stars since then and also has moved on to Cremonese.

6. Ilaix Moriba

Ilaix Moriba best African football talents
(Photo by Jose Miguel Fernandez/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
  • Country: Guinea
  • Club: Valencia
  • Age: 20
  • Position: Midfielder.

Ilaix Moriba was tagged as the next Paul Pogba when he broke into Barcelona’s main team as a teenager.

He has always been held as a player with big potential since his time, even with the U19s.

A contract dispute led him out to RB Leipzig, and Barcelona fans were frustrated.

He made his international debut with Guinea, and although things haven’t been smooth with Leipzig in Germany, he’s found playing time with Valencia on loan.

7. Azzedine Ounahi

Azzedine Ounahi best young African football talents
(Photo by ANP via Getty Images)
  • Country: Morocco
  • Club: Marseille
  • Age: 22
  • Position: Midfielder

Azzedine Ounahi was the talented African youngster who shone in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Ounahi is a nimble midfielder with exceptional ball control and remarkable strategic intuition, fearlessly engages in tackles despite his slender physique.

His potential to excel at the highest echelon was evident from the outset.

As a dynamic box-to-box midfielder, Ounahi adeptly navigates both offensive and defensive plays, exhibiting his prowess in both winning ground battles and smoothly evading opposing players.

His performances earned him praises from Luis Enrique after the game against Spain, and he also moved from Angers to Marseille after the tournament because of his display.

8. Amad Diallo

Amad Diallo Young African Football Talents

  • Country: Ivory Coast
  • Club: Manchester United
  • Age: 20
  • Position: Winger.

Diallo joined Atalanta’s youth academy in 2015 and played a vital role as the team won the Italian youth league for two consecutive seasons.

He was subsequently promoted to the senior team and became the first player born after year 2002 to score in Serie A.

His performances convinced Manchester United to splash £25m on him.

Amad Diallo is one of the young stars that are on the books of Manchester United, and at 19 years old.

He is currently on loan at Sunderland in the championship and has made nine goals and two assists in 29 appearances.

Diallo is pacy and skillful, assets that will come in handy once he’s trusted enough for a starter’s short at Old Trafford.

9. David Datro Fofana 

David Datro Fofana top young African footballers
(Photo by Visionhaus/Getty Images)
  • Country: Ivory Coast
  • Club: Chelsea
  • Age: 20
  • Position: Striker

David Fofana is Chelsea’s newest hope in finding another Didier Drogba after he was signed from Norwegian side Molde by Chelsea.

Fifteen goals and three assists in twenty-three games in the Norwegian top-flight in 2022.

10. Mohammed Salisu

Mohammed Salisu best young African soccer players
(Photo by Dave Howarth – CameraSport via Getty Images)
  • Country: Ghana
  • Club: Southampton
  • Age: 23
  • Position: Defender.

Mohammed Salisu is a Southampton defender and joined them in 2020 after starting his career with Rayo Vallecano in Spain.

He has been a mainstay in their defense for the last three seasons making over 70 appearances, 22 of them coming this season.

Honourable Mentions:

Here are some notable players who deserve a mention among the best young African footballers in the world:

  • Mohamed Camara (Mali)
  • Hamed Junior Traorè (Ivory Coast)
  • Lamine Camara (Senegal)
  • Odilon Kossounou (Ivory Coast)
  • Samuel Chukwueze (Nigeria)
  • Zito Luvumbo (Angola)
  • Pape Diop (Senegal)
  • Rayan Aït-Nouri (Algeria)
  • Kamaldeen Sulemana (Ghana)
  • Terem Moffi (Nigeria)
  • Calvin Bassey (Nigeria)
  • Tariq Lamptey (Ghana)
  • Cheick Doucouré (Mali)
  • Samson Tijani (Nigeria).
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