Afcon 2023: Seven stars English clubs want to sign but Lookman coy on Osimhen’s future
Host Cote d’Ivoire faces Nigeria this Sunday in the final of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations and scouts from around the globe will already have stocked their notepads with glowing reports about some of the talent showcased in this year’s tournament.
Here are seven Afcon standouts who would make perfect summer transfer targets for Premier League clubs.
Victor Osimhen – Nigeria
The latest star of African football, Victor Osimhen is set to be one of the most prized – and highly priced – strikers in Europe this summer, as a host of the Continent’s biggest clubs hope to persuade Napoli to part ways with their prolific goal-scorer.
A top target for Chelsea among others, the 25-year-old might only have scored once in six outings during Nigeria’s run to the final but the Super Eagles’ success is dependent on their superstar striker.
And no one doubts Osimhen’s poaching prowess. The former Lille forward has scored 67 goals in 119 games for Napoli – including 26 in Serie A last term as he fired the Partenopei to a first title in 33 years.
A new contract signed in December reportedly contains a release clause in the region of €130million.
Logan Costa – Cape Verde
France-born centre-back Logan Costa impressed for Cape Verde along their run to the quarter-final stage, where they were only eliminated by South Africa after a penalty shootout following a scoreless 120 minutes.
The 6ft 3 centre-back has established himself as a key figure at the heart of the defence for Ligue 1 side Toulouse this season and could represent an ideal target for a Premier League club in search of a high-upside value signing in that position this summer.
Ademola Lookman – Nigeria
A name already familiar to Premier League followers, Ademola Lookman has been one of the standout performers for Afcon finalists Nigeria, scoring three goals for Jose Peseiro’s side.
The London-born former England under-21 international failed to consistently deliver on his vast potential in previous stops with Fulham and Everton, but he has excelled in Serie A with Atalanta, scoring 22 goals in 56 games since joining the club from RB Leipzig in 2022.
At 26, Lookman is approaching his prime and is developing a reputation as one of the most consistent forwards in Italy.
Evan Ndicka – Cote d’Ivoire
Roma center-back Evan Ndicka has been a rock at the back for Ivory Coast as they have progressed to the Afcon final.
The powerful 24-year-old first garnered the attention of Europe’s biggest clubs during five years with Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga, before joining Jose Mourinho in the Italian capital last summer.
Previously linked with Barcelona, his performances in the tournament on home soil this winter could see him become a major target for many teams in need of defensive reinforcements.
Bilal El Khannouss – Morocco
El Khannouss does not hit his 20s until May of this year, but already the skillful Moroccan attacking midfielder has made a name for himself as one of the most exciting young players in Belgium, where he plays his club football for renowned spotters and developers of talent Genk.
A nominee for the 2023 African Young Player of the Year, El Khannouss is reportedly a target for Manchester United and Liverpool, with Genk setting an asking price in the region of £16 million.
Edmond Tapsoba – Burkina Faso
One of the under-the-radar stars of Xabi Alonso’s unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen side, Edmond Tapsoba has already drawn interest from Manchester United and Tottenham.
The 25-year-old center-half played every minute of Burkina Faso’s run to the last 16 in Cote d’Ivoire, impressing as he has in the Bundesliga so far this term with his slick passing from the back.
Leverkusen rebuffed all interest in Tapsoba last month, but a future move to the Premier League might appeal to the defender, who cites John Stones and Virgil van Dijk as players whose style he has tried to emulate.
Aboubakary Koita – Mauritania
One of the stars of Mauritania’s unexpected progress to the last 16, Koita has been one of the breakout performers in the Belgian Pro League this season, scoring 13 goals in 20 appearances for Sint-Truiden.
The former Gent attacker showcased his dazzling creativity at the 2023 Afcon in a group-stage game against Angola, scoring once as well as registering three key passes and seven successful dribbles.
The 25-year-old – who can play as a winger, No.10, or striker – would make an interesting left-field target for a Premier League side looking for a creative wildcard.
Meanwhile, Lookman has refrained from commenting definitively on whether his Nigeria teammate r Osimhen will be playing in the Premier League next season, during a recent interview with talkSPORT.
Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis confirmed last month that the striker is set to depart in the summer.
De Laurentiis suggested that the 25-year-old could potentially join a top English club, with Arsenal and Chelsea known to be interested.
However, Atalanta winger Lookman has chosen not to reveal whether Osimhen has inquired about life in England, despite his previous experiences at Everton, Leicester, Fulham, and Charlton.
Appearing on talkSPORT Drive ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations final against hosts Cote d’Ivoire on Sunday, Lookman was asked about Osimhen’s potential move to the Premier League.
He revealed: “Not that I know of! I think playing with him is amazing, he’s a top player, and a top person also. Us playing together is a very enjoyable experience, so long may it continue.”