Auba returns to London to deal with ‘unfinished business’

Aubameyang returns to London to deal with ‘unfinished business’ in the Premier League.

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It was a frantic transfer deadline day for many of Europe’s biggest clubs, and Africa’s players were at the heart of many of the day’s biggest storylines – for good and bad reasons – during a frenetic final few hours.

Here, ESPN run through the big African talking points of deadline day, and some of the transfers you may have missed.

Chelsea finally get their man

Chelsea’s pursuit of a leading goal-getter went right to the wire, with the club confirming only confirming Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang‘s signing after the window had officially closed.

The Gabon striker departed Barcelona after only seven months, arriving at Stamford Bridge in a £10 million player-plus-cash transfer which sees Marcos Alonso going the other way.

Aubameyang made a lightning start to life at Barca after finally ending his troubled time at Arsenal, scoring 11 goals in 17 La Liga outings, but the arrival of Robert Lewandowski and the club’s financial restrictions ultimately pushed him towards the exit door.

The horrific home invasion that Auba experienced at the weekend — that left him with a broken jaw – was a jarring interruption, and it remains to be seen when the 33-year-old will be able to take to the field for his new club.

While his time at Arsenal was derailed amidst disciplinary issues and a fall out with Mikel Arteta in late 2021, Aubameyang demonstrated his consistency during his first two and a half years at the club — hitting 54 goals during that period.

He also became the first African player to captain an FA Cup-winning side in 2020, and there’s a sense that he still has a point to prove in the Premier League… and in the capital.

“I’m really happy,” Auba said upon his unveiling. “It’s an honour to be part of this team and I can’t wait to start.

“I have some unfinished business with the Premier League so it’s good to be back and really exciting.”

He’ll also reunite with his ex-Borussia Dortmund head coach Thomas Tuchel, under whom he won the Bundesliga Player of the Season and Golden Boot, and — undaunted by the long list of prolific strikers who have struggled while wearing it — has opted for the No. 9 shirt vacated by Romelu Lukaku.

Dieng stays put

Senegal striker and Africa Cup of Nations winner Bamba Dieng endured his own personal transfer deadline day rollercoaster, during which he began and ended the day at Olympique de Marseille… despite being close to both Leeds United and OGC Nice over the course of a bizarre afternoon.

The 21-year-old initially appeared primed for a switch to Elland Road, with Leeds owner Andre Radrizzani taking to Twitter to urge the club’s supporters to ‘welcome’ Dieng to the club.

The forward was understood to be on the brink of boarding a private jet at Nice airport when he had a change of heart and — amidst interest from Les Aiglons — opted to conduct his medical with the Ligue 1 side rather than travel to England for the necessary tests.

“Part of the madness of deadline day,” Radrizzani added on Twitter – only hours after his previous post. “We have been screwed up, it happens even to the best ones.”

Dieng, by this point, had absconded from the terminal and was closing in on a move to Nice, only to then ostensibly fail his medical with the club of the Riviera due to a knee problem.

He remains a Marseille player, although Ligue 1 teams are entitled to one domestic transfer after the window has closed; it remains possible that he could still sign for Nice and is due to conduct further medical tests on Friday.

OM did make a high-profile African signing of their own on deadline day, bringing Morocco playmaker Amine Harit back to the club on loan from Schalke 044.

The 25-year-old had a hand in eight goals at the Stade Velodrome last season to help Marseille return to the Champions League, and will now look to test himself at Europe’s high table for the first time since 2018 as he pushes for the Atlas Lions’ World Cup squad.

Another AFCON winner on the move

While Dieng remains at OM for now, one of his AFCON-winning colleagues – Idrissa Gueye – did secure a deadline-day move, finally returning to Everton from Paris Saint-Germain.

Despite interest from Portugal, this move has appeared inevitable for much of the window, with paper talk initially linking Gana with a Goodison Park comeback in late July.

The two clubs took their time to reach an agreement, despite the 32-year-old being informed by Christophe Galtier that he was no longer part of his plans at the Parc des Princes, and Gueye made no secret of his excitement to return to Merseyside.

“There is no better feeling than coming back home,” Gueye said upon his unveiling. “I am very happy to be here at Everton again, to help and to work hard. I’ll give my soul to this team.”

Despite having been gone since 2019, no Toffees player has registered more Premier League tackles than Gana since his arrival at the club in 2016, with the midfielder establishing himself as one of the top flight’s most effective destroyers during his time at Goodison.

In the intervening years, he’s become an African champion, reached the Champions League final, and clinched two Ligue 1 crowns during his time in the capital.

He became the seventh of eight Everton signings this window, and completed a remarkable summer of transition for the Senegal side that won the Nations Cup in Cameroon in February.

Of the 14 players who featured in the final, six have moved clubs during the offseason, with Abdou Diallo (from PSG to RasenBallsport Leipzig) also transferring on deadline day.

Dieng may yet become a seventh, while free agent Saliou Ciss is in talks with clubs in Turkey, although Ismaila SarrBouna Sarr and Nampalys Mendy were unable to secure moves.

Mixed fortunes for Super Eagles

Some of Nigeria‘s biggest names were the subject of deadline-day discussions, with strikers Umar Sadiq and Simy Nwankwo securing a change of scene, while Ola Aina‘s mooted return to the Premier League was not completed.

Sadiq had been heavily linked with a move to Villarreal during the course of the window, having demonstrated his consistency with 41 goals for Almeria across the previous two campaigns.

Ultimately, it was Real Sociedad who secured the forward’s signature, signing him for approximately €20 million even though Almeria CEO Mohamed El Assy had previously indicated that it would take a bid of nearly €30 million for the player to move.

He becomes the second Nigerian to play for Sociedad after Mutiu Adepoju, who congratulated the striker on his decision when the deal was confirmed.

“This is where legends are made,” Adepoju wrote on his Twitter handle, “so feel at home and keep the goals coming.”

The 25-year-old, who was previously on the books of AS Roma and Rangers, had scored two goals in three La Liga outings for promoted Almeria so far this term.

His fellow Nigerian striker Simy also secured a deadline-day deal when he swapped Salernitana for Benevento, and a drop to the Italian second tier.

The striker broke the record for the most goals scored by a Nigerian striker in a single season in a major European league when he netted 20 for Crotone in 2020-21, but contributed just two goals last term as his form deserted him.

Another Super Eagle who had appeared primed for a deadline day switch was ex-Chelsea full-back Aina, who emerged as a late-window target for West Ham United during the course of the day.

The Hammers initially offered an initial package worth €8 million, but with Torino holding out for something closer to the €10 million mark, the two sides were ultimately unable to reach an accord.

In the past, the Irons have failed in moves to sign players only to then successfully get their man in subsequent transfer windows — Nayef Aguerd being one example — so don’t be surprised if Aina makes the move to the London Stadium before too long.

Any other business

While the likes of Victor OsimhenMohammed Kudus and Wilfried Zaha stayed put, various other African players made deadline-day moves across Europe’s biggest leagues.

Nottingham Forest‘s hectic recruitment drive continued with the additions of Willy Boly from Wolverhampton Wanderers and Franco-Ivorian defender Loic Bade on loan from Stade Rennais.

The Tricky Trees have heavily invested in African talent during their record-breaking 21-signing summer, having previously recruited Nigeria duo Emmanuel Dennis and Taiwo Awoniyi, Moussa Niakhate and AFCON winner Cheikhou Kouyate. Free agent Serge Aurier is also expected to arrive imminently.

Wolves did sign Mali midfielder Boubacar Traore from FC Metz on a loan deal with an option to buy for €11 million, while his international teammate, free agent Adama ‘Noss’ Traore, also agreed terms with Hull City.

Guinea duo Ilaix Moriba and Mady Camara secured big moves – signing for Valencia and AS Roma on loan respectively – while Algeria wideman Adam Ounas left Napoli for LOSC Lille in a €2.5 million switch.

Cameron’s Ignatius Ganago joined FC Nantes in a €6 million deal from Racing Club de Lens, and Southampton invested in their future with a £10 million swoop for Manchester City‘s Anglo-Nigerian wonderkid Sam Edozie.

The winger has never played a senior game at any level, but is exactly the kind of profile that Saints have been investing in heavily in recent windows.

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