City's greatest ever African players

By Ric Turner, Thu 19 March 2020 15:37

City's greatest ever African players 

Following recent speculation linking Riyad Mahrez with a move away from the Etihad Stadium, we have taken a look at where the Algerian winger ranks amongst those from the African continent who have represented the Blues.

City have had a number of African players in the Premier League era, from Cameroon's Lucien Mettomo to the Nigerian Kelechi Iheanacho. Below we rank the top three African players to have pulled on the famous sky blue shirt.

3) Marc-Vivien Foe

Foe only played one season for the Blues, having signed on loan for the 2002/03 season. The Cameroon midfielder scored a creditable 9 goals in his 35 appearances for the Blues, including the last ever goal scored at Maine Road by a City player in a 3-0 victory over Sunderland. His performances divided City fans to some extent, but he put in a number of impressive performances for the club, including a 2-2 draw away at Charlton in which he scored both goals, and the aforementioned win against Sunderland. City were looking to make his deal permanent at the end of the 2002/03 season.

Tragically, his life was cut short when he passed away whilst gaining his 64th cap for his country, in a Confederations Cup semi-final against Columbia on 26th June, 2003. In the 72nd minute Foe collapsed in the centre circle, and medics spent 45 minutes trying to resuscitate him but he died shortly after arriving at hospital. The club retired the number 23 shirt that he wore with distinction in his memory.

2) Riyad Mahrez

City signed Mahrez in 2018 for a then club record fee of £60m, which also made him the most expensive African player of all time. The Algerian international had enjoyed a scintillating four seasons at Leicester City, winning the PFA Player's Player of the Year award in 2015-16 as the Foxes incredibly won the Premier League title.

His first season in Manchester was at times frustrating for Mahrez, as he made just 14 league starts and scoring seven goals. He did, however, net a crucial strike away at Brighton on the final day of the season to effectively seal the title for Pep Guardiola's side. His influence in the team continued to grow this season, with Mahrez becoming a first team regular until the campaign was cut short by the Coronavirus pandemic.

1) Yaya Toure

The term “legend” is frequently overused, but Toure’s role in the revival of Manchester City should not be underestimated; he has arguably been the club’s most important player since Sheikh Mansour’s takeover in 2008. His winning goals in the 2011 FA Cup semi-final and final helped City win their first silverware for 35 years, whilst his brace against Newcastle in the penultimate game of the 2012 season was a pivotal moment in the title race. Lest we forget his 24 goals from midfield in the 2013/14 season, that saw the Blues win their second league title in three years.

His signing in 2010 was derided by many journalists, who naively saw him as a limited defensive midfielder, but he went on to become one of the club’s all-time greats. He possessed a rare combination of brute force and refined finesse that made him a quite unique player in many respects.