Six relegated African players who can kickstart their careers elsewhere

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Nigeria and Emmanuel Dennis of Watford.
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GOAL profiles stars from the continent who dropped down to the second tier but could sign for top-flight sides this summer

A number of African players were involved in relegation battles last season and while some secured their top flight status, others were not as lucky.

However, there were some talents that were deemed ‘too good to go down’ while others had an impressive season, even if they did not manage to help their teams to safety.

GOAL profiles six relegated African players who can kickstart their careers elsewhere from next season.

  1. Emmanuel Dennis
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    Emmanuel Dennis

    While Watford did not manage to avoid the axe from the Premier League, the Nigerian striker was the bright spot, managing 16 goal involvements in his first season in the English top flight after signing from Club Brugge last summer. Dennis was Watford’s top scorer with 10 goals and topped it up with six assists in 33 games and it is hard to see him playing in the second-tier next season with such impressive numbers. Already, a number of Premier League clubs are said to be interested with West Ham, Brentford and Crystal Palace among them.

  2. Wahbi Khazri
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    Wahbi Khazri

    The Tunisian attacking midfielder suffered relegation from Ligue 1 with AS Saint-Etienne but it is very likely that he will be playing top flight football and not Ligue 2 next season. Khazri stood out in a struggling team with his 10 goals making him the club’s top scorer. The former Sunderland man rescued his side on a number of occasions but it was not enough to save the 10-time French champions. However, Khazri’s stock is still high and it will not be a surprise if a number of teams queue for his services ahead of next season.

  3. Maxwel Cornet
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    Maxwel Cornet

    Ivorian forward Cornet was among the outstanding performers for Burnley but did not manage to save the Clarets from Premier League relegation. The former Lyon man netted nine goals in 26 appearances in his debut season in the Premier League and that has seen up to 10 teams, including West Ham, Newcastle United, Everton and Wolverhampton Wanderers, linked with transfer interest this summer.

  4. David Okereke
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    David Okereke

    Another relegated Nigerian striker who is likely to be playing top flight football is Okereke, who impressed on loan at Serie A side Venezia despite dropping down to Serie B. Okereke, on loan from Belgium’s Club Brugge, bagged seven goals to finish the season as the club’s second top scorer behind Thomas Henry who managed nine. Speculation in May that Serie A champions AC Milan were interested further highlighted how Okereke is highly rated.

  5. Ismaila Sarr
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    Ismaila Sarr

    Sarr has been a subject of transfer speculation in the last three years and that is likely to be the case again this summer. The Senegal international opted to stay with Watford when they suffered Premier League relegation in 2020 and it paid dividends as they regained promotion but after going down again in 2021-22, the 24-year-old will likely be among those seeking top-flight football elsewhere.

    Sarr did not manage to hit the heights of the previous two seasons but still ended the campaign with five goals and two assist and there is already reported interest locally and abroad.

  6. Gideon Mensah

    Gideon Mensah

    The 22-year-old Ghana left-back made 22 appearances and provided two assists on loan at French side Girondins Bordeaux despite suffering relegation. The Red Bull Salzburg-owned player, who can also play at centre-back, has also been impressive for the Black Stars in their World Cup playoffs against Nigeria in March as well as the opening two matches of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers this month. Bordeaux are said to be ready to exercise the buy option in his contract but they could be facing stiff competition from top flight sides in due course.