On the move: Rating the major African transfers this summer

Sadio Mane: Liverpool to Bayern Munich

Possibly one of the biggest transfers of this transfer window, Sadio Mane’s move from Anfield to the Allianz Arena blew up social media. Media sources covered the Sadio Mane saga from start to finish. There was the time when he rocked a Bayern kit as he traveled to Germany. And you cannot definitely cannot when his Senegal manager Aliou Cisse said that Mane should make a move to Munich. It looked certain when Liverpool completed signings for Fabio Carvalho and Darwin Nunez. With Bayern looming, it made the most sense to get him off Liverpool’s wage books sooner than later.

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“I can say, of course, we won a lot, and I spent a great, great time there. An unbelievable time at Liverpool, we won a lot,” Mane gushed about his time with Liverpool in an interview with his new club. “As I say, my life is always [about a] challenge and when it came I said to the club I want to leave, I want to go somewhere else to see a new challenge.” Mane will find a new challenge as Bayern bolsters their squad to prepare for a competitive Bundesliga. The transition should be seamless.

Liverpool: B-

The Liverpool forward finally found his long-awaited exit this summer, signing for Bayern for around 34 million euros. Reds fans can feel their club did not bargain enough and try to get a bigger transfer fee. Yet the Merseyside owners ended the drama rather quickly, gave Mane the move he needed, and freed up minutes for their attacking superstars.

Bayern: A

Bayern were the winners of this blockbuster transfer. Not only did they practically steal Mane by pressuring Liverpool into selling Mane for a discount price, but they found a potential replacement for Robert Lewandowski. It is safe to say that Mane is in his prime, and his transfer valuation says that. Transfermarkt places his value at 70 million euros, safely in the top 50 in the world. To get him for half his estimated valuation is huge for Die Roten. Next season, he will join Noussair Mazraoui and Ryan Gravenberch in Munich for Bayern’s European conquest.

Yves Bissouma: Brighton to Tottenham

Malian ace and dependable Brighton midfielder Yves Bissouma helped kick off Tottenham’s spending spree with a 25 million transfer to the Lilywhites. Bissouma is a dependable rock in defense. He can be trusted to ignite an intense counter-attack as much as hold off a blistering flurry of shots. He is unstoppable, rock-solid, and frustrating for attackers at his best. At his worst, he is an aggressive, impatient defender who gets several yellow cards. His ceiling is high, and the 25-year-old has the potential to become one of Europe’s finest.

Bissouma was overjoyed with the transfer. “I was born in the Ivory Coast, in my dad’s village. When I was young football was my life. I wanted to play football every day, every moment. If I don’t play football, I am not happy. To be a professional footballer, to be at Spurs, a big club, when I remember 11, 12 years ago… it gives me some sensations… my mum, my dad, they helped me a lot.” He will anchor a Tottenham midfield that will aim for the stars as they return to the Champions League for the first time in three years.

Brighton: B+

Financially, the move benefits Brighton. The Seagulls took a gamble by buying Bissouma for 15 million pounds in 2018, a then-club record transfer fee. Yet he has repaid that fee and more for Brighton. During his four years for Brighton, he scored three goals, assisted twice, won 312 tackles, and intercepted a whopping 160 passes. It is safe to say that Brighton won the trade financially. They pocketed around 20 million pounds thanks to Bissouma’s hefty price tag but need to find a player that can step into his boots.

Tottenham: B-

Spurs needed to strengthen their squad as they entered the season with new hopes. They signed Ivan Perisic on a free transfer from Inter and recently signed explosive Everton forward Richarlison. Bissouma joins the duo as a prodigy whose defensive prowess is unparalleled. It means that Tottenham has an abundance of midfielders. The Malian joins players like Pierre-Emile Hojberg, Rodrigo Bentacur, Pape Sarr, and more. It could lead to fewer minutes for Bissouma, or a midfielder like Tanguy Ndombele or Giovani Lo Celso could leave the club. Yet Antonio Conte must find a way to include all the midfielders in his rotation or face the consequences.

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Taiwo Awoniyi: Union Berlin to Nottingham Forest

Taiwo Awoniyi had a breakout season in 2021, capturing the eyes of a dumbfounded global audience. His rapid ascent included a whopping 15 Bundesliga goals, his first goal for the Nigeria national team, and leading his Union Berlin side to a Europa League berth. Yet Die Eisernen will lose their top goalscorer thanks to Nottingham Forest’s 20-million-euro transfer swoop. It is the most expensive Nottingham Forest arrival, and it is the most expensive Union Berlin departure.

All parties should be happy here. Union Berlin rakes over 20 million euros in cash, and Nottingham Forest receives a lethal striker. Awoniyi gets a chance to show why pundits were wrong about him when he left his former club, Liverpool. “I feel very happy to be here. Looking at the project, is something I am really looking forward to. What stood out about Forest were the meetings with the Head Coach and the discussions we had. I can see how ambitious and dedicated he is to his job,” Awoniyi said. If Forest’s Premier League exploits go according to plan, Awoniyi and Nottingham Forest will be a match made in heaven.

Union Berlin: C+

Considering Union Berlin’s history as a German minnow with no real trophies of importance, 20 million euros is a lot. Yet it seems somewhat confusing that a team, months removed from a Europa League appearance, would sell their star player. There was potential for a groundbreaking season where Berlin broke into the German upper echelon. Yet all we are left with are what-ifs. I believe Berlin will find a good, if not a better replacement for Awoniyi. But with such a crucial season looming, it confounds me that Berlin would bend so easily.

Nottingham Forest: B

Forest completed a good transfer, busting the bank open and going all-in on this talented prospect. He showed what he can do in the Bundesliga with his impressive goal-scoring record(15 goals in 31 Bundesliga games) and accuracy(45.5 shots on target %). They improved what helped them to promotion, their explosive offense, and gambled that a dangerous pairing of top team goalscorer Brennan Johnson and Awoniyi would work together. Awoniyi is great on paper, but it will take some time for the Nigerian forward to get used to the Premier League’s playstyle. It is a risky gamble, and fans should not be surprised if it takes some game for Awoniyi to get going.

Noussair Mazraoui: Ajax to Bayern Munich

Aggressive full-back and Moroccan international Noussair Mazraoui joined Bayern Munich on a Bosman transfer last month. He joins players like Ryan Gravenberch and Sadio Mane to create a lethal team looking for another Bundesliga title. His duality and versatility make the transfer a good one for Bayern. He is as good as carving open spaces for his teammate as he is lunging in to make a vital tackle.

Mazraoui is confident of his team’s ability to contend in Europe. “FC Bayern have just become German champions for the 10th year in a row and will be among the contenders to win the Champions League again next season. I chose this club because I can win the greatest titles here,” he said in an interview with Die Roten.

Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn cautiously agreed. “We are also looking forward to taking on the Champions League again with him and we want to celebrate a lot of successes together in the coming years,” he said. With Bayern’s slew of summer signings, Champions League contenders should watch out for Mazraoui and Bayern as they take on the world.

Ajax: C

Ajax followed a sensational, Eredivisie-winning season in 2021-22 by… selling most of their star players. They sold Gravenberch to Bayern and reportedly sold Sebastian Haller to Dortmund. Ajax let Andre Onana leave on a free to Inter and let Danilo Pereira sign with Feyenoord for free. Journalists in the know are linking Antony and Jurrien Timber to multiple top-tier clubs. It is not wise to prepare for what should be a competitive Eredivisie or a Champions League they flopped in last year like this. It is a wonder how Ajax will replace all their stars.

Bayern: B

Bayern continued their streak of good business. They strengthen an already-scary defense by signing Mazraoui on a Bosman transfer while giving the right-wing an added spice with his incisive wing play. There are some questions about how Mazraoui slots into the Bayern lineup, considering their current back four of Alphonso Davies, Lucas Hernandez, Dayot Upamecano, and Benjamin Pavard. The potential signing of Mathijs de Ligt could complicate it even more. Until Bayern can sort out their messy defensive rotation, I remain only cautiously optimistic about this transfer.

The Author

Deolu Akingbade

I'm an African football analyst who loves cheering for the Super Eagles and Atletico Madrid. I am 13-years-old and am featured in WorldSoccerTalk as well.

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