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Africa to the World: Stars to watch this weekend in Europe’s top leagues

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The stage is once again set this weekend for African soccer stars to strut their talents for their various European teams.

The past weekend was a mixed bag of some sort for them but with many of the players living up to expectation, better things should come from the continent’s stars expected to feature for their respective clubs.

In a rare start for Arsenal after almost four months, Egypt midfielder Mohamed Elneny gave a decent account of himself in Arsenal’s 4-2 thrashing of Chelsea at the Stamford Bridge on Wednesday and is in line for another shift as the Gunners welcome Manchester United to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday lunchtime showpiece.

In the French Ligue 1, Achraf Hakimi and Idrissa Gueye are poised to claim the French top-flight title by picking up just a point this weekend when they square up against Lens.

Let’s have a roundup of what to expect from African stars this weekend.

Mohamed Elneny – Arsenal

Playing in only his first start since December, Elneny had a decent showing in Arsenal’s 4-2 success at Chelsea, as he helped shore up Arsenal’s midfield in the absence of fellow African, Ghanaian Thomas Partey who is out injured.

Elneny’s previous start came in the 3-2 loss at Manchester United and he could be set to make another start against the same opponents at the Emirates Stadium this weekend.

With a top-four spot still up for grabs, the Gunners know the importance of successive victories against sides they are potentially doing battle with for those positions and Mikel Arteta’s side are fired up to pick all three points to move clear of their opponents.

Achraf Hakimi, Idrissa Gueye – Paris Saint-Germain

Achraf Hakimi and Idrissa Gueye both featured for Paris Saint-Germain in Wednesday’s 3-0 success over Angers which puts them on the verge of reclaiming the Ligue 1 title with just a point against Lens this weekend.

Hakimi set up Kylian Mbappe’s 28th-minute strike and the dependable defender is expected to start against Lens.

Gueye was a second-half substitute at Stade Raymond Kopa but the battling midfielder could start his 18th league game as PSG look for the point that will guarantee them the title.

Ismaila Sarr, Emmanuel Dennis -Watford

Second from bottom Watford have lost four of their last five in the Premier League and they face a daunting trip to league leaders Manchester City looking to pull off one of the season’s shock results, with Sarr and Dennis expected to start.

Sarr missed the reverse fixture at Vicarage Road but should be in line to feature at the Etihad Stadium as the Citizens aim for three points to end the gameweek atop the standings.

Dennis ended his goal drought in last week’s 2-1 defeat by Brentford and he looks to score in back to back games against Manchester City.

Alex Iwobi – Everton

The Super Eagle midfielder completed five Premier League games in succession under Frank Lampard last weekend and is expected to continue in midfield when Everton travel to Liverpool for the 240th Merseyside Derby, hoping to avoid their rivals doing the double over them.

Following Burnley’s win over Southampton on Thursday, Lampard’s men are a point ahead of the Clarets and could drop into the bottom three this weekend if they lose at Anfield and the 18th-placed outfit win defeat Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Taiwo Awoniyi – Union Berlin

Awoniyi scored his 13th Bundesliga goal last weekend and is now Union Berlin’s record scorer in the top flight.

With eight game-opening goals, the striker sits joint-top alongside Anthony Modeste and Robert Lewandowski.

Union Berlin travel to in-form RB Leipzig looking to end the nine-match unbeaten run of the Saxony outfit and if Awoniyi comes to the party, they could come out with at least a point.

The Berlin outfit have won the last three in the Bundesliga and could make it four on the trot against the Europa League semi-finalists.

Yoane Wissa – Brentford

Wissa has started Brentford’s last two league games since scoring at Chelsea and the forward could be in the starting line up for a third match running when the Bees host top four hopefuls, Tottenham Hotspur.

It could be the attacker’s 10th start for Thomas Frank this season and he would take his tally for the season to six with his next strike.

Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah – Liverpool

The 240th meeting between Liverpool and Everton takes place at Anfield this weekend with the Reds resounding favourites to secure maximum points.

Salah halted his three-game run without a league goal by putting two past Manchester United and while Mane also helped himself with a goal and a sublime assist for one of Salah’s two goals in the 4-0 routing of their opponents.

The pair are likely to feature when they take on the Toffees with the added incentive of securing a first double over their eternal rivals since the 2016/17 season.

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Saudi club Al Hilal places African transfer record bid for Osimhen

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Victor Osimhen scored his first hat-trick for Napoli (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Saudi Arabia club side, Al-Hilal, have reportedly made an African transfer record bid for Super Eagles and Napoli striker, Victor Osimhen.

Reports in the Italian media say the Saudi giants are willing to pay Napoli the €130 million it quoted as transfer fee for the 25-year-old Nigerian, a fee that has seen top European clubs like PSG, Arsenal Chelsea and Manchester United all backing out of the race to sign the forward.

According to Repubblica Newspaper, the withdrawal of other suitors have put Al-Hilal in pole position to snatch Osimhen, with the Saudi Arabian giants ready to table an offer that meets Napoli’s valuation of Osimhen, an offer that will be a record for an African player.

Osimhen’s agent Roberto Calenda, is expected to meet with Napoli’s President, Aurelio De Laurentiis, and present the offer to him.

If Napoli accepts the offer, the new African transfer record will break the €86 million mark that Osimhen reached when moving from LOSC Lille to Napoli four years ago.

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PSG reportedly pulls out of signing Victor Osimhen as negotiations break down

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Victor Osimhen is back with a bang (Photo Credit: Napoli FC)

French Ligue 1 giants, Paris Saint-Germain, have reportedly pulled out of signing Nigerian and Napoli striker, Victor Osimhen, after negotiations between the two clubs broke down.

Football transfer expert, Fabrizio Romano, who announced news on his X handle, said talks between PSG and Napoli regarding Osimhen were at a standstill after the French champions initially expressed interest in signing the Nigerian marksman.

“Paris Saint-Germain won’t pay the clause and talks are in stand-by at current conditions, no chance to include Kang-in Lee,” Romano wrote.

“Osimhen could also consider Saudi League bids, as Napoli want Lukaku to replace him,” the transfer guru added.

Reports in Italy day Napoli’s disastrous 2023/24 season have contributed to the reduction in the number of suitors vying for Osimhen’s signature, which left PSG as the only team which still retained interest in his services.

Three PSG players, Carlos Soler, Nordi Mukiele and Lee Kang-in were reportedly put on the table in a player-plus-cash deal but PSG have now taken a step back.

“However, even the Parisians are now gradually backing off, with the striker’s current release clause standing at €130m,” an Italian sport tabloid wrote.

According to Calcio Mercato, Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis currently has no interest in parting ways with Osimhen for anything below his release clause.

“It is understood that PSG are the only interested club at the moment but will not go ahead under the current circumstances despite losing star man Kylian Mbappe to Real Madrid,” the paper said.

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