Top 10 Best African Players In La Liga History

Top 10 Best African Players In La Liga History

best african players in laliga history

Who are the best African footballers to ever play in La Liga? La Liga has seen some incredible African talent over the years and In this guide, you will learn about the top 10 African players In La Liga history based on their overall impact on their respective teams.

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Who Are The Best African Players In La Liga History?

Here’s a list of 10 of the best African players in La Liga history:

1.   Samuel Eto’o

Samuel Eto'o


Samuel Eto’o is one of the best African players in La Liga history, known for his time at Barcelona from 2004 to 2009.

Eto’o left Mallorca in 2004 as their all-time leading scorer, with 54 goals, and joined Barcelona for a transfer fee of €24 million.

His transfer involved complex negotiations with Real Madrid, who initially wanted to buy back his rights but eventually agreed to the deal. Eto’o made an immediate impact at Barcelona, debuting in August 2004.

In his first season, he helped Barcelona win the La Liga title and earned attention for his passionate celebrations, although he later apologized for comments made during a victory celebration.

In the 2005-06 season, Eto’o won the Pichichi Trophy as La Liga’s top scorer with 26 goals, narrowly beating Valencia’s David Villa.

He played a major part in Barcelona’s Champions League campaign, scoring a key goal in the final against Arsenal that helped secure the title. His performances won him the UEFA Best Forward of the Year award.

Eto’o also won his third consecutive African Player of the Year award in 2006 and was named to the FIFPro World XI for the second year in a row.

He finished third in the FIFA World Player of the Year voting, making him one of the few African players to achieve this honor.

Despite a knee injury in the 2006-07 season, Eto’o returned strong and continued to score important goals. He had some disagreements with new manager Pep Guardiola in the 2008-09 season but remained a key player.

Eto’o scored a hat-trick against Almería and four goals in one half against Real Valladolid to put him among Barcelona’s all-time top scorers.

Eto’o played a key role in Barcelona’s treble-winning season in 2008-09, scoring the opening goal in the Champions League final against Manchester United.

Alongside Lionel Messi and Thierry Henry, Eto’o formed a formidable attacking trio that scored 100 goals that season. His contributions to Barcelona during these years make him a standout figure in La Liga history.

2.   Yaya Touré

Yaya Touré


Yaya Touré is one of the greatest African players to have ever played in La Liga, having joined the Spanish La Liga club Barcelona in 2007 for €10 million (£6.7 million).

Touré made his debut for Barcelona on 26 August 2007 during the 2007–08 La Liga season opener against Racing de Santander.

His first goal for the club came quickly, in a match against Athletic Bilbao on 2 September 2007, which Barcelona won 3–1.

Touré also made a major impact in European competitions, scoring his first UEFA Champions League match against Schalke 04 in the 2007–08 quarter-final.

Barcelona won this match with a 2–0 aggregate score, securing their place in the semi-final. This showed Touré’s talent on a big stage. In the 2008–09 season, Pep Guardiola became the manager of Barcelona.

Guardiola preferred to use Sergio Busquets in the defensive midfield role that Touré often played. Despite this, Touré remained an important player for the team.

In the 2009 Champions League final, Touré played as a center-back because of injuries and suspensions to the first-choice defenders.

This was notable because he had only played in that position twice before for Barcelona. His versatility and skill helped Barcelona win the Champions League that year.

In late June 2010, Barcelona announced that Touré would be allowed to leave the club during the summer. His departure marked the end of a successful spell with the team. Despite playing for a relatively short period in La Liga, Yaya Touré left a lasting impression with his performances.

3.   Geremi Njitap

Geremi Njitap


Geremi Njitap, commonly known as Geremi, is one of the top African players to have played in La Liga. During his time with Real Madrid, he made a big hit and achieved great success.

Geremi joined Real Madrid in 1999 and played at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium for three years. During this period, he won two Champions League winners’ medals, which are highly prestigious in European club football.

His contributions on the field were crucial in helping his team secure these titles. Although Geremi wasn’t a prolific goal scorer, he made memorable contributions when it mattered.

He scored his first goal for Real Madrid in a dramatic match against Raja Casablanca during the 2000 FIFA Club World Championship. Despite the team being reduced to eight men, Geremi’s late winner secured the victory.

His second goal was equally important, coming against Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals of the 2001-02 UEFA Champions League.

These goals showed his ability to deliver in high-pressure situations. In 2000, Geremi’s outstanding performances earned him a nomination for the Ballon d’Or.

Vicente del Bosque, a former Real Madrid coach, praised Geremi and Steve McManaman as the two most important players in his squad because they kept the team united.

Seeking more regular playing time, Geremi moved to Middlesbrough on a season-long loan for the 2002-03 season, where he continued to impress. His success at Real Madrid and his overall contributions to football were widely recognized.

4.   Mahamadou Diarra

Mahamadou Diarra


One of the greatest African players In La Liga history is Mahamadou Diarra, particularly for Real Madrid. His career with Real Madrid started when their head coach, Fabio Capello, was so eager to sign him that he told the club president, Ramón Calderón, to sign “three players”, all being Diarra.

This led Real Madrid into a race with Manchester United to secure Diarra’s signature. Lyon, Diarra’s club at the time, initially resisted by putting a €40 million price tag on him.

However, Real Madrid managed to negotiate a fee of €26 million, and Diarra was officially unveiled as a Real Madrid player on August 22, 2006, wearing the number 6 shirt.

In his debut season (2006-07), Diarra became a key player in Capello’s two-defensive midfielder system. He played in 33 out of 38 league matches and scored three goals.

One of his most memorable moments was on June 18, 2007, when Real Madrid needed a win against Mallorca to secure their first league title since 2003.

Diarra scored a crucial header in the 81st minute to put Madrid ahead, and they eventually won the match 3-1, becoming champions. The following season, under coach Bernd Schuster, Diarra continued to be a key player.

He was the first-choice defensive midfielder, and his performances helped Real Madrid comfortably win the league, finishing eight points ahead of Villarreal.

This victory kept Diarra’s sixth consecutive league title, having won Ligue 1 with Lyon from 2002-2006 and La Liga with Real Madrid in 2006-07 and 2007-08.

Unfortunately, Diarra’s career took a downturn in October 2008. While playing for Mali against Chad, he suffered a serious knee injury.

Although he returned briefly in November, he soon needed surgery, which kept him out for the rest of the season. During his absence, Real Madrid signed Lassana Diarra, who took over the number 6 shirt.

After recovering, Mahamadou Diarra found it hard to regain his place in the team, starting only eight more matches in the following two seasons.

By January 2011, it was clear he would be leaving the club, with several teams, including Málaga, expressing interest in him.

5.   Noureddine Naybet

Noureddine Naybet

Noureddine Naybet is one of the top African players in La Liga history. He was a central defender from Morocco who had a big influence during his time with Deportivo de La Coruña, a Spanish football club.

Naybet joined Deportivo in the summer of 1996, signing a four-year deal for about €1.6 million. He made his La Liga debut on 31 August 1996, playing the full match in a 1-1 draw against Real Madrid.

In the 1997-98 season, Naybet scored four goals, the most he ever scored in a single season, although the team finished in 12th place that year.

Naybet was a key player for Deportivo, especially in the 1999-2000 season when the club won La Liga for the first time in its history.

That season, he often played alongside Argentine defender Gabriel Schürrer. Besides winning La Liga, Naybet also helped Deportivo win one Copa del Rey and two Spanish Super Cups.

Naybet’s contributions were not limited to domestic competitions. In the 2000-01 UEFA Champions League, he played an important part as Deportivo easily passed the first round of qualification and faced tough teams like Galatasaray, AC Milan, and PSG in the second round.

Naybet scored an equalizer in a match against PSG, helping his team advance to the knockout stages, where they reached the quarter-finals before being eliminated by Leeds United.

In the 2001-02 Champions League, Naybet again played a major role. Deportivo tied with Olympiacos in their first match and defeated Manchester United 2-1 in their second match, with Naybet scoring the winning goal.

Deportivo advanced to the knockout stages, beating Arsenal 2-0 in the round of 16, but were later defeated by Manchester United in the quarter-finals.

Naybet was also a key player in the 2003-04 Champions League campaign. He started in all 13 of Deportivo’s matches, helping the team reach the semi-finals.

Unfortunately, in the second leg of the semi-final against FC Porto, Naybet was sent off, and Deportivo lost 1-0, with Porto eventually winning the competition.

6.   Frederic Kanouté

Frederic Kanouté

Frederic Kanouté is one of the finest African players to have ever played in La Liga. He joined Sevilla on August 17, 2005, for €6.5 million, and Kanouté quickly became an important player for Sevilla.

One of his best moments was during the 2006 UEFA Cup Final. Kanouté came on as a substitute in the second half and scored a goal in the 89th minute.

Sevilla won the match 4-0 against Middlesbrough. In the 2006-07 UEFA Cup, Kanouté showed his skill again. He played against his former club, Tottenham Hotspur, and scored a penalty at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium.

He also scored a goal at White Hart Lane. Sevilla won the match on aggregate with a score of 4-3. Even though Sevilla didn’t win the league title that year, they finished third, just behind Real Madrid and Barcelona.

In 2008, he helped the team qualify for the UEFA Cup, and In 2009, he played a big role in Sevilla securing a spot in the Champions League.

Kanouté was known for his strong performances and his ability to score crucial goals. However, he also had some tough moments.

On the first day of the 2009-10 season, he received two yellow cards and was sent off in a match against Valencia. In October 2011, he was sent off again for kicking the ball away when Lionel Messi was about to take a penalty.

He also had an altercation with Cesc Fàbregas in that match.

Kanouté’s final season with Sevilla in 2011-12 was spoiled by injuries. Despite this, he managed to score four goals and assist in two others.

He left Sevilla at the end of his contract in the summer of 2012, having played 290 matches for Sevilla, scoring 136 goals.

He helped the club win two UEFA Cups, one UEFA Super Cup, two Copa del Rey trophies, and one Spanish Super Cup.

7.   Jacques Songo’o

Jacques Songo'o

One of the greatest African players to ever play In La Liga is Jacques Songo’o. He first made a name for himself in France, playing for FC Metz in Ligue 1.

In 1996, he was named the Best African Goalkeeper, which was a huge honor. After this achievement, Songo’o moved to Spain to play for Deportivo de La Coruña, a move that turned out to be the most successful period of his career.

While playing for Deportivo, Songo’o had an outstanding season in 1996-97, winning the Ricardo Zamora Trophy, an award given to the best goalkeeper of the season.

This was a remarkable achievement, showing just how skilled he was. For his first four years with Deportivo, Songo’o was the main goalkeeper, helping his team win their first-ever La Liga title.

His performance was crucial in making Deportivo one of the top teams in Spain during that period. In 2000, Deportivo signed a new goalkeeper, José Francisco Molina.

This led to Songo’o losing his spot as the first-choice goalkeeper. He then moved back to his former club, FC Metz.

One memorable moment during this time was when he almost scored his first career goal from a corner kick, but it was disallowed in a match against CD Numancia.

After two seasons with Metz, Songo’o returned to Deportivo de La Coruña on a free transfer. He played there until he retired from football at the age of 40. After retiring, he decided to settle in A Coruña, where he had spent some of the best years of his career.

8.   Mohamed Sissoko

Mohamed Sissoko

Mohamed Sissoko is one of the top African talents to have played in La Liga. He is known for his time at Valencia CF. Sissoko made a free transfer to Valencia in 2003 when Rafael Benítez was the manager.

Benítez saw Sissoko’s potential and used him in the midfield, a role that suited him well. During the 2003-04 season, Valencia had an amazing run, winning the La Liga title.

This was a huge achievement for the team and Sissoko. That same year, Valencia also became the champions of the UEFA Cup.

Sissoko played in nine matches during their successful UEFA Cup campaign, contributing to the team’s victories with his solid performances.

The following year, in 2004, Rafael Benítez left Valencia to become the manager of Liverpool. Claudio Ranieri, another well-known manager, took over at Valencia.

Although Sissoko’s role changed a bit under Ranieri, he remained an important player for the team. Sissoko’s time at Valencia was characterized by his strong physical presence and his ability to break up the opposition’s play.

His performances in both domestic and European competitions showed his talent and made him a key figure in the team’s success during that period.

Even after leaving Valencia, Sissoko’s career continued to flourish, and he played for several other big clubs in Europe.

9.   Thomas N’Kono

Thomas N'Kono

Thomas N’Kono, one of the best African players in La Liga history, was born in Dizangue, Cameroon. He started his career in his home country, playing for Canon Yaoundé and Tonnerre Yaoundé.

His impressive performances at these clubs earned him a move to Spain with RCD Español in 1982, after impressing in the FIFA World Cup held in Spain that year.

His outstanding play led him to win the France Football African Footballer of the Year award twice, first in 1979 and again in 1982.

During his time with Español, N’Kono became a crucial part of the team. He played from 1982 to 1990 and made 272 appearances in La Liga, hardly ever missing a game.

In total, he made 333 competitive appearances for the club. Despite his strong performances, he couldn’t prevent Español’s relegation from La Liga in the 1988-89 season. After this, he was eventually replaced by Vicente Biurrun.

N’Kono continued his career in Spain for a few more years, playing for CE Sabadell FC in the Segunda División and CE L’Hospitalet, both teams also based in Catalonia.

He finally retired in his 40s after a stint with Club Bolívar in Bolivia. After retiring as a player, N’Kono returned to RCD Español as a goalkeeping coach. In this role, he helped to develop young talents, including his fellow Cameroonian, Carlos Kameni.

10.   Seydou Keita

 Seydou Keita

Seydou Keita is another African top talent to ever grace La Liga with his remarkable performances for Sevilla FC and FC Barcelona. In 2007, Keita moved to La Liga with Sevilla in a €4 million deal.

During his stint with Sevilla, Keita was a key figure, contributing significantly to the team’s success. His memorable goal against Real Madrid in November 2007 remains in our memories.

Keita’s exploits in the Champions League also confirm him as one of Africa’s finest talents. In 2008, FC Barcelona secured Keita’s services for €14 million, making him the first Malian player to wear the iconic Blaugrana jersey.

Keita’s impact at Barcelona was immediate, with his debut season in a historic treble triumph.  His memorable hat-trick against Real Zaragoza in 2009 was an invaluable contribution to Barcelona’s success.

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