In the 2020-21 season of the English Premier League, 20 of the 28 Arsenal players were foreign born.
Four of those players hail from Africa, starting with the Gunners’ captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who plays for Gabon. The other three players are Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast), Thomas Partey (Ghana), and Mohamed Elneny (Egypt).
As things stand, all of them will play for Arsenal in the upcoming season. Unfortunately, the team’s chances this season don’t look that great. According to sportsbooks like MG sports betting, Arsenal is not among the favourites for any trophy, nor do the Gunners’ chances of qualifying for the Champions League look all that promising.
With the present looking bleak for the Gunners, it’s time to remind ourselves of the glorious past. An impressive history of incredibly talented players of African heritage who have won the Premier League or some other major trophy with Arsenal.
- Nationality: Ivory Coast
- Position: Defender (center-back)
- Years at Arsenal: 2002-2009
- Trophies: Premier League (2003-04), 2x FA Cup (2003-04, 2004-05)
Born and bred in Bouaké, Ivory Coast, Toure signed for Arsenal in 2002 while at the age of 21. Over the next seven years, he made a total of 225 caps for the Gunners before moving to Manchester City, then finally ending his Premier League story in Liverpool. With 14 years spent in England, it’s no surprise that Toure is the record holder for most Premier League games played by an African player.
Although he played for such a long time in the English top-flight, Toure’s best moments happened early on. In the season 2003-04, he was one of the crucial players in Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles, a team that went on without losing a single game the entire season.
Lauren Bisan-Etame Mayer
- Nationality: Cameroon
- Position: Defender (right-back)
- Years at Arsenal: 2000-2007
- Trophies: Premier League (2003-04), 3x FA Cup (2001-02, 2003-04, 2004-05)
Another member of the Invincibles, Lauren remains one of the best players in his position. As a right-back, the Cameroonian recorded 159 appearances for Arsenal, helping the Gunners win one Premier League title, as well as three FA Cups.
- Nationality: Nigeria
- Position: Striker
- Years at Arsenal: 1999-2004
- Trophies: 2x Premier League (2001-02, 2003-04), 3x FA Cup (2001-02, 2003-04)
At 6’6, Kanu played as a target man for the Gunners for five seasons, scoring a total of 30 goals in 119 games. He was a part of the Invincibles, although not as a starter (in most cases). In most games that he played that season, he came off the bench.
In fact, Kanu was famous for being a joker up Arsene Wenger’s sleeve, often coming in late in the game to break the opposition defence. Right now, he is third on the list of the Premier League players with the most substitute appearances in the history of the competition.
- Nationality: Liberia
- Position: Striker
- Years at Arsenal: 1997-2000
- Trophies: Premier League (1997-98), FA Cup (1997-98)
Born in Monrovia, Liberia, Christopher Wreh was spotted by AS Monaco scouts while still a teenager. In France, he had spent four years working together with Arsene Wenger who went on to become one of Arsenal’s most successful managers in history.
Wreh linked up with his boss in 1997 just before the start of Arsenal’s best seasons of the 1990s decade. In the 1997-98 season, the Gunners won the double (EPL and FA Cup) and Wreh was their key man. He was also pretty decent a year later, but his Arsenal saga came to an end following the arrival of Thierry Henry.
- Nationality: Gabon
- Position: Striker
- Years at Arsenal: 2018-
- Trophies: FA Cup (2019-20)
He’s the current captain of Arsenal, as well as this team’s arguably best player. The Gabonese striker arrived in London in 2018, meaning that he still has enough time to lead Arsenal to glory. The Gunners did win the FA Cup last year, with Aubameyang being one of the crucial players on the road to the trophy.
Actually, he was the only Arsenal player to score in that game. With two goals to his name, Auba almost single handedly brought the Gunners their 14th FA Cup title in the history of the club.
Other Notable African Players
Kolo Toure’s younger brother Yaya Touré is another African player with a great deal to be proud of during his brief one game tenure with Arsenal. Alex Song spent four years as a Gunner before moving on to Barcelona. One cannot forget Emmanuel Adebayor; one of a few players who’ve scored 30 or more goals in a single season.
Obviously, it’s a glorious past when Arsenal players of African heritage are discussed. However, the future could be even brighter. The thing is that there are plenty of African players coming through Arsenal’s youth, so we could easily see some new superstars emerging in a few years’ time.