Below is a list of players from the African continent, which include one Congolese, one Togolese, one Cameroonian, two Nigerians, two Ghanaians, two Malians, and three Ivoirians, who have been on top of their game and earning the most money over some period of time.
Seydou Keita ($17m)
Seydou Keita is one of the soccer hot shots in Africa. Born January 16, 1980, this Malian professional footballer plays for Dalian Aerbin FC in the Chinese Super League.
Keita has been representing Malian national team since the age of 20, and also holds a French passport. Born in Bamako, Mali, Keita made his debut for Mali on 9th April, 2000, in a 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Libya.
On May 26, 2008, Keita signed a four-year contract with FC Barcelona, with the Catalan club believed to have paid the player’s buy-out clause, which stood at about €14 million. He became the first Malian Barcelona player ever, and the club set his new release clause at €90 million. Keita also participated in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, scoring in the 1–1 quarterfinal draw against the hosts as Mali eventually won the shootout.
On July 7, 2012, Keita announced he would be leaving Barcelona after four seasons, invoking a clause in his contract which allowed him to leave the club even though he still had two years left. The following day, he signed a two-and-a-half-year deal with Chinese Super League side, Dalian Aerbin FC, being reportedly paid $17 million per year.
Yaya Toure ($16 million)
Ivory Coast-born Gnegneri Yaya Toure began his football career in ASEC Mimosa youth team in Ivory Coast, his home-country at the age of 18 before joining a Belgianclub side known as Beveren. He later moved to Metalurg Donetsk in Ukraine, Olympiakos, Greece, AS Monaco, France and later to Barcelona. Since then, Toure has been soaring in soccer, thus earning several millions of euros in a year.
Toure plays as a powerful and versatile midfielder for Manchester City currently and Ivory Coast national team: he doubles at defensive and offensive positions. He joined Premier League club, Manchester City in 2010 with a five-year contract singed on July 2 for about 24 million pounds.
Man City’s Toure earns $16 million annually which is no small pay for the Ivorian player who is part of Man City’s pride.
Didier Drogba ($13.9 million)
Didier Drogba is, no doubt, one of the most celebrated soccer giants of Africa. Drogba was born in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. He later moved to Brest in Brittany where his uncle, Michel Goba, resided as a professional footballer. Michel greatly influenced Drogba in developing his talent and career in football. This did not go down well with Drogba’s parents who were working in a bank in Abidjan as they wanted the young boy to face his studies. Michel was, however, able to convince the parents that football would offer Drogba “a real chance to succeed in life”. However, the young Drogba later returned to Ivory Coast at the age of eight.
While in Abidjan, Drogba never stopped playing football. Sometimes, he and his playmates would turn a car park into a soccer pitch, not minding the coarse nature of the “pitch” and their vulnerability. He later moved to France with his parents and siblings. There, he signed up with Levallois, a club where he began a career in football in a suburb of Paris and started making a name for himself.
Drogba’s first big move in France was with Marseilla Club for the 2003 – 2004 season, though his professional debut was with Ligue 2 club, Le Mans. After a fantastic one-season display at Marseilla, he went to Chelsea in 2004 on a transfer fee of roughly $36 million, having been baited by Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho who was impressed with his performance in Marseilla. In Chelsea, he scored 157 goals in 341 games.
After leaving Chelsea in 2012, Drogba signed a deal with Shanghai Shenhu in China that was worth 200, 000 pounds a week. There, he played briefly before moving to Galatasaray club in Turkey where he earns up to $13.9 million annually.
Emmanuel Adebayor ($11.3million)
Emmanuel Adebayor is a Togolese footballer who plays as a forward for Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur and the Togo national team.
Adebayor previously played for Metz, Monaco, Arsenal, Real Madrid and Manchester City. He was voted African Footballer of the Year for 2008. Born on February 26, 1984, Adebayor represented the Togo national football team at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, the country’s début, and to date, their only appearance at the World Cup.
On July 18, 2009, Adebayor signed a five-year contract with Manchester City, for a transfer fee believed to be in the region of £25million and he subsequently signed a permanent deal with Tottenham Hotspur in a deal worth £5million, after a protracted period of negotiations on August 21, 2012. He is reported to earn about $11.3million annually.
Yakubu Aiyegbeni ($10million)
Yakubu Aiyegbeni was born on November 22, 1982 in Benin Cityand plays as a striker for Guangzhou R&F. He is also a former player of the Nigerian national team.
A powerful striker, Yakubu started his career with Julius Berger FC in Lagos as a teenager in the Nigerian Premier League. He was later loaned to the Portuguese club Gil Vicente. Subsequently, Israeli team Maccabi Haifa paid $300,000 for his services in 1999. He was loaned to another Israeli Premier League club, HapoelKfar Saba, for the 1999–2000 season.
Yakubu confirmed on June 28, 2012, that he had left Blackburn and had signed for Chinese side Guangzhou R&F on an initial three-year deal.
The financial details of Yakubu’s transfer to Guangzhou R&F were not disclosed. It is understood that he would earn $10 million annually in wages and bonuses.
Asamoah Gyan ($9.3million)
Asamoah Gyan was born on November 22, 1985 in Accra, and plays as a striker for Al Ain of the UAE Pro-League.
Gyan represented Ghana at the 2006 and 2010FIFA World Cups, scoring three goals at the latter, and also missing a crucial penalty kick in the last minute of extra-time in a quarter-final defeat by Uruguay.
Having signed for Udinese in 2003 from Ghanaian club Liberty Professionals located in Accra, Gyan spent two years on loan at Serie B club Modena to gain match experience. Following some excellent displays during the 2006 World Cup, he attracted interest from Russian club Lokomotiv Moscow. Gyan returned to Udinese at the start of 2006, but on 17th February, 2007, Udinese pulled out of a deal to sell him in the January transfer window.
On 10th September, 2011, it was confirmed on the Sunderland website that Gyan would leave on a season long loan toAl Ain FC. Amid speculations of a fee of up to £6million being paid for the loan period, with Gyan receiving up to four times his previous salary, Chairman Niall Quinn emphasised the financial benefits of the deal for both Sunderland and the player.
Gyansigned a five-year contract with Al Ain on July 6, 2012 worth about $8.4million. The contract would see Gyan earning about $180,000 a week after taxes for five years, starting from July 2012. This would be $9.3million annually.
Samuel Eto’o ($9 million)
Samuel Eto’o Fils, born on March 10, 1981, is a Cameroonian footballer who plays as a striker for English Premier League club, Chelsea.
He was once rated the world’s second highest-earning sportsperson, after the golfer Tiger Woods. He was at the point, the highest-paid footballer in the world, earning £35.7million (over $54million) per year, excluding off-field endorsements. He is the most decorated African player of all time having won the African Player of the Year award a record four times, in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2010. He was third in the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 2005.
As a member of the Cameroon national team, Eto’o was a part of the squad that won the 2000 Olympic tournament. He has also participated in three World Cups and six Africa Cup of Nations (being champions two times) and is the all-time leading scorer in the history of the Africa Cup of Nations, with 18 goals. He is also Cameroon’s all-time leading scorer and third most capped player, with 55 goals from 112 caps.
On August 29, 2013, Eto’o signed a one-year deal with Chelsea, for an undisclosed fee. He reportedly took a huge pay cut from $23million a season down to $9million to sign for Chelsea.
Frédéric Oumar Kanouté was born on September 2, 1977, and last playedas a striker for Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan.
Kanouté began his career with Lyon in France before moving to West Ham of the Premier League in 2000. Kanouté’s talents as a striker were first noticed by his local team, Olympique Lyonnais, and he joined them as an apprentice in 1997. He made his debut in the Intertoto Cup against Polish side Odra Wodzisław.
After a spell at their London rivals Tottenham Hotspur, Kanouté moved to Spanish club Sevilla where he, as a devout Muslim, in 2007 paid $700,000 to purchase a mosque in Seville for Muslim locals after the contract on the premises had expired, and it was about to be sold out.
Despite appearing 16 times for France U-21, Kanouté was a member of the Malian squad which reached the semi-finals of the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations and also featured in their selections for the tournament in 2006 and 2010. His international career ended in 2010 with a total of 39 caps and 23 goals.
On 29th June, 2012, Kanouté signed a one-and-a-half-year contract with Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan, which placed him on a reported salary of $7.2 million annually.
Michael Essien ($6.1million)
Chelsea’s attacking midfielder and Ghana-born Michael Essien started his career in football in a local club called Liberty Professionals in Accra, Ghana, after graduating from St. Augustine’s College in Cape Coast. In 1999, he played for Ghana in the U-17 World Youth Championship which took place in New Zealand where he showcased himself in a global glare, thus attracting attention from clubs in Europe.
In April 2000, Essien went to Manchester United. However, his stay in Manchester United was brief as he joined a French club, Bastia in July the same year. From Bastia, he went to Lyon from where he joined Chelsea.
Essien who also plays for his national team receives an annual salary of $6.1million aside from other match allowances and fees.
John Mikel Obi ($5.5million)
Nigeria’s John Mikel Obi began his football career in Plateau United Football Club of Jos in Plateau State. He later went to Ajax Cape Town of South Africa and later, Lyn Oslo club in Norway. In 2005, Mikel was desperately sought-after by Manchester United and after he had gotten a “Red Devil” jersey, he opted for Chelsea who also sought after him. He joined Chelsea where he functions as defensive midfielder in 2006 summer. Mikel also plays for Nigeria’s national team, Super Eagles.
Earlier, he had played for Nigeria’s U-17 World Youth Championship in 2003 and U-20 side in 2005. In Chelsea, Mikel receives $5.5million annually.
Christopher Samba ($5.2million)
Veijeany Christopher Samba was born on March 28, 1984 and plays as a defender for FC Dynamo Moscow in the Russian Premier League. Born in Créteil, France, he plays for the Congo national team.
Samba began his career with French Ligue 2 club Sedan. After only three appearances, he was signed by Berlin-based club Hertha BSC of the German Bundesliga.
On July 2, 2013, Anzhi Makhachkala agreed on a fee of £12million to bring Samba back to Russia after only half a season with Queens Park Rangers, following their relegation from the Premier League. Rangers were looking to cut their wage bill after dropping out of the English Premier Division, with Samba as one of the highest earners on a reported £100,000 per week.
On August 29, 2013, Dynamo Moscow signed three players from Anzhi, and Samba being one of them wears the 84 shirt. He is on an annual salary of $5.2million.
Kolo Toure ($5.2million)
Kolo Habib Touré was born in Bouaké, Ivory Coast and currently plays for the Ivory Coast national team and Liverpool FC of England.
Toure is another product of the amazing development structure at ASEC Mimosa in Ivory Coast. Despite only signing for Arsenal in 2002, Toure was already part of the Ivorian national team having made his debut for ‘the Elephants’ in 2000.
In March 2011, he was placed on suspension from the club after failing a drug test. He denied wrong-doing, claiming he inadvertently took diet pills meant for his wife.
In July 2013, he signed for Liverpool from Manchester City, where he was reported to have earned $190,000 a week. Though the terms of his contract were not made public, he is said to have taken a massive pay cut and could be earning about $5.2million annually.