It has been a vintage season for Italy’s Africans. In goal, in defence, in midfield and above all in attack, a number of them stood out. The prize goes to Victor Osimhen, Italian champion and top scorer.
Victor Osimhen, the gunner
Who else but him? If you had to pick just one, Victor Osimhen would be it. The Nigerian striker was dominant from start to finish. Powerful, always ready to use his head, his foot and his whole body to make the difference, the Neapolitan enjoyed a historic season. Not only was he Italian champion, he also finished Serie A’s Capocanoniere with 26 goals. No African striker had ever scored so many goals in a single season in the Italian top flight. Osimhen also has 5 assists and a market value rising from €70 million in November 2022 to €110 million in June 2023.
Ademola Lookman, goals and assists
We vacillated between Musa Barrow and Ademola Lookman. But in the end we opted for the Nigerian. He quickly acclimatised to the intense style of play at Atalanta, 5th in Serie A. Although injuries kept him away from the pitch for a number of key matches in the second half of the season, the former Leipzig striker still managed 13 goals and 6 assists for the DEA in 31 league appearances. Gambia’s Barrow (3 goals) has also played a big role at Bologna, revitalised by Thiago Motta. Although he scored far fewer goals than the Nigerian, Musa Barrow dished out 8 assists. He is the 2nd best passer in the league, behind Napoli’s Georgian Kvaratskhelia.
Boulaye Dia, the finisher
Boulaye Dia has succeeded in his gamble. After a somewhat lacklustre season with Villarreal (5 goals), the Senegalese striker agreed to join Salernitana, promoted to Serie A. And well he should have done. He is the main architect of his club’s survival with 16 goals. His highest professional total ever. The 2021 African champion finished 3rd in the scoring charts, behind Osimhen (26 goals) and Lautaro Martinez (21 goals). The Salernitana have decided to lift Villarreal’s €12 million option to buy him in order to keep him permanently. But it is likely that Boulaye Dia will decide to look a little higher up again.
Andre Onana, the last line of defence
At the start of the season, Simone Inzaghi decided to field Samir Handanovic in the league and Andre Onana in the cup matches. But the Cameroonian quickly overturned that decision. He managed to unseat the immovable Slovenian everywhere. Very confident and at ease on the ball, Andre Onana can compete for the title of best recruit in Serie A alongside Napoli’s Kim and Kvaratskhelia. The Indomitable Lion has the advantage of having arrived free of charge from Ajax Amsterdam. After just one season, he could be packing his bags to join Chelsea and add considerable value to Inter’s coffers.
Zambo Anguissa, the adventurer
Although he was more impressive in the first half of the season, Zambo Anguissa still had a remarkable season. The Cameroonian midfielder was the boss of Neapolitan midfield. At the peak of his form, he was unplayable in both the league and the Champions League. He raked, he collected, he built and he scored. The 2017 African champion scored three goals and provided five assists in 36 Serie A games.