AFCON Opens Door For Multi-Million Dollar Transfer Market for Africa, Players

Jan 15, 2024 | Entertainment, News

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Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire – There is undoubtedly a considerable interest in African players, apparently due to their quality. Name them: Hannibal Mejbri, Ousmane Diomande, Ademola Lookman, et al.

Being capped for the senior national team is usually viewed from the angle of the benefits to players.

AFCON/AFCON matches/afcon matches today/AFCON LIVE
Football is an integral part of African culture and AFCON is an opportunity to promote and improve it. Photo credit: DeFodi Images
Source: Getty Images

The prestigious Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) represents a big chance for player sales for the African continent. This sees funds flow into the various football systems: the selling club, football agent, player, and others.

Thanks to talent, some African players could win a big contract this January — or in the summer. Each level of proof of adeptness adds to their price. As an illustration, in recent weeks, English Premier League (EPL) giants, Arsenal, have been linked with Diomande, who currently plies his trade in the Liga Portugal with Sporting Lisbon. And they will have further opportunities to watch him during the ongoing AFCON in Côte d’Ivoire. There are reports that Arsenal boss, Mikel Arteta, has sent scouts to watch the defender. Although the 20-year-old is said to be rated at £69 million, the sum could rise if other suitors come in post-AFCON 2023.

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After selling his firm, 70-yr-old Nigerian joins Dangote, Adenuga, others as Africa’s billionaire recalls that in 2022, African countries were key players in the global player transfer markets in the men’s football category.

This is according to the 2022 ‘FIFA global transfer report’ released by the world football governing body on January 26, 2023.

Nigeria, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire are listed among the top 10 globally in the number of transfers made in men’s football.

Nigeria—ranked 5th—recorded 725 transfers in 2022, while Ghana recorded 515 transfers and is ranked 8th globally. The two earned $104.2 million and $17.4 million, respectively.

Côte d’Ivoire placed No.9 globally, with 428 transfers earning $38.3 million.

At the club level, African countries amassed more than $71.2 million from player transfers.

The FIFA global transfer report read:

“Receipts of African clubs exceeded their spending by more than $55 million.”

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AFCON: Lagos opens 20 free viewing centres, introduces refreshments, all 52 matches will be shown

Tunisia racked up the most revenue from transfers.

How 2023 AFCON in Côte d’Ivoire affects the transfer window

January is traditionally not a time to spend lots of money, but clubs may well be pushed into signing cover for fatigue, injuries, or simply taking advantage of an opportunity that otherwise might not have presented itself.

For the players, the tournament’s timing provides a novel element which does not usually apply to the ordinary, yearly scouting cycle, so those headline-grabbers have a unique opportunity to put themselves front and centre to get noticed by club owners, presidents and bankrollers who will all have their eyes glued to the action in the West African nation.

Here are a few examples of past breakout stars:

Players who got a big break after AFCON

1) Manucho

Angolan Manucho was highly rated on his arrival at Manchester United. The now-retired forward joined the EPL heavyweights in the winter of 2008 just after helping his country to a quarter-final finish at AFCON 2008 – their joint-best performance to date. He teamed up with United right from Petro Atlético of Luanda in his homeland.

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Africa Cup of Nations: 3 former AFCON stars who became actively involved in governance, politics

Manucho was only bettered on the goalscorers chart by the legendary Samuel Eto’o whose team reached the final in Ghana.

Today, he counts himself as just among the not-too-many Africans who have turned out in the colours of Manchester United.

2) Sunday Mba

Heading into the 2013 AFCON in South Africa, few beyond the most ardent of Nigeria league followers knew of Mba. By the end of the tournament, he was the nation’s darling.

Mba scored the winning goal in Nigeria’s 2–1 quarter-final win over the big guns, Ivory Coast.

On February 10, 2013, in the final against Burkina Faso, he netted the first and only goal of the game, to hand Nigeria their third and last AFCON title.

The Warri Wolves player, then only ever plying his trade in Nigerian leagues, subsequently secured a move to Europe. He reportedly cost CA Bastia of France 1 million euros.

Read also

Super Eagles target N6bn top prize as CAF budgets over N30bn for AFCON 2024 8 finalists

Mba told ESPN in 2022:

“It was unbelievable. Coming from nowhere and turning into somebody whose name is recognised by everybody, that is special.”

3) Godfrey Oboabona

Like Mba, Oboabona sparkled at the 2013 edition of AFCON. He formed a near-perfect defensive partnership with former Chelsea man, Kenneth Omeruo.

From Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) side, Sunshine Stars, he was snapped up by Çaykur Rizespor of Turkey in the summer of the AFCON year. If not for Africa’s biggest football festival, he could have found it difficult to announce himself to a larger audience. Oboabona cost Rizespor US$870,000, with Sunshine Stars of Ondo state getting their financial reward.

During a 2020 interview with The Punch, Oboabona asserted:

“Playing for Nigeria (at AFCON 2013), I must say, is one of the most memorable moments of my career.”



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