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Ranking Asamoah Gyan and the greatest Africans to play in China

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#10?Christopher Katongo

Something of an unlikely winner for the BBC African Player of the Year award in 2012, Katongo won over the public with his inspirational showings for Zambia as the Chipolopolo pulled off an astonishing, emotional victory at the Cup of Nations.

The attacker, who has had something of a nomadic career, spent two years at Henan Construction before moving to PSL side Golden Arrows.

#9 Obafemi Martins

One of the most successful African imports to the Chinese Super League, Martins arrived in Chinese football four years ago when he signed for Shanghai Shenhua following a spell with Seattle Sounders.

The Nigeria international previously starred in the Premier League and in Serie A and was a Chinese Cup winner in 2017 – one of two occasions in which he top-scored in the competition.

#8 Aiyegbeni Yakubu

Ageless Yakubu may best be remembered for one unbelievable miss at the 2010 World Cup against South Korea, but it would be an incredible disservice to a prolific career if that were to be his lasting legacy!

A two-time Israeli Premier League winner with Maccabi Haifa, and a Europa League runner-up with Middlesbrough, the Yak bagged 24 goals in 43 league games for Guangzhou R&F.

We expect Chinese defenses were relieved when he moved on in 2013 after two seasons.

#7?Gervinho

On his day, one of the most electric attacking talents in Europe, the Cup of Nations winner was offloaded to Hebei China Fortune soon after Luciano Spalletti took the reins at AS Roma, despite having recovered his top form in Serie A.

The Wideman was a Ligue 1 champion with LOSC Lille but lost his way at Arsenal before rediscovering his momentum in Italy.

After a sojourn in China, he’s now back in Serie A with Parma, where his quality has shone through during a tumultuous campaign.

#6?Mohamed Sissoko

The Mali midfielder was unfortunate to have just missed out on playing for a few excellent sides, although he did join Valencia in time to win the Liga BBVA title in 2004, even if he missed Los Che’s Champions League (near) glories.

He won the Europa League and the Uefa Super Cup with the Spanish HeavyWeights , and moved onto Liverpool, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

He had a brief spell with Shanghai Shenhua, and recently hung up his boots.

#5?Frederic Kanoute

The sublime goalscorer was the first-ever non-African-born player to win the African Footballer of the Year award, and while he could never guide Mali to the Cup of Nations title, he shone with Sevilla—winning the Europa League in 2006 and 2007.

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He spent the final year of his active career with Beijing Guoan.

#4?Asamoah Gyan

The Ghana striker was criticized when he swapped Premier League action for a move to United Arab Emirates side Al-Ain, and later China, with some questioning whether the forward would regret his decision to abdicate from the central narratives of the world game.

Gyan’s form for the Black Stars demonstrates that his class remains undiminished, and the attacker was one of the world’s best, paid players during his time with Shanghai SIPG, when he commanded a £227k-per-week contract.

#3 Seydou Keita

Keita was a key member—if not always a starter—in Pep Guardiola’s magnificent Barcelona side, winning three La Liga titles, two Copa del Reys and two Champions League titles in Catalonia.

He also enjoyed spells with Valencia, Sevilla and AS Roma, and arguably moved to China too early when he swapped the Nou Camp for Dalian Aerbin in 2012, in the immediate aftermath of a Copa del Rey triumph.

#2 Didier Drogba

Drogba is one of Chelsea’s all-time greats, and was influential as the Pensioners won the Champions League in 2012.

He may have missed out on winning the Cup of Nations title with the Ivory Coast, but Drogba can boast of a trophy haul that few of the continent’s stars can match.

He spent eight months in China with Shanghai Shenhua before continuing his late-career tour of world football by moving to Montreal Impact.

#1 Yaya Toure

In his prime, Toure was one of the world’s finest players, and after coming to the end of the road of a trophy-laden spell at Manchester City, he departed for Olympiakos in 2018.

Two league appearances later, his return to the Greek giants was over, and he moved on to China, and currently employers Qingdao Huanghai.

Yaya won three Premier League titles at City, but perhaps his most important contribution to the Citizens’ rise were the winning goals he scored in the semi-final and final of the 2011 FA Cup as the Manchester heavyweights ended their half-century wait for silverware.

 

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