The impact African players have had on the Spanish Football League, LaLiga is no secret. Some of the greatest to grace the game include Michael Essien, Yaya Toure and Samuel Eto’o – to name a few. But who are the players that are currently lighting up the Spanish League?
We take a look at the oldest and youngest African players currently in LaLiga.
Ansu Fati, a teenage winger who plays for FC Barcelona and the Spanish under-21 squad. Born on 31 October 2002, the Guinea-Bissau born player became the youngest player ever to represent Barcelona since 1941, making his first-team debut at just 16 years old and 298 days. He was so young that he actually had to ask for parental permission to play. Why? LaLiga has regulations that stipulate all underage players need parental permission to feature in late-night games in Spain.
With the kick-off set for a 21:00 – classified as a late-night game by the league – his parents needed to give him the go-ahead. He got permission and came off of the bench to help his side win 5-2 victory over Real Betis.
On 31 August 2019, he made new headlines as he scored his first professional goal and became Barcelona’s youngest goal-scorer ever and the third youngest in LaLiga history.
Having joined the famous Barcelona academy ‘La Masia’ in 2013, when he was just 10 and showing so much potential so early in his career, there is no telling how high this star will rise – we’ll just have to wait and see.
Born on 19 March 1986 in Senegal, Papakouli ‘Pape’ Diop is a defensive midfielder, currently playing for SD Eibar. He’s had a colourful journey in the magical game, making his debut for Stade Rennais FC in Ligue 1 on 5 August 2006.
He then joined Tours FC in the Summer of 2006, before being relegated in his first season. On 31 January 2008, Diop started his Spanish journey, signing for Segunda División B side Gimnàstic de Tarragona, before being sold to Racing de Santander for €1.5 million.
His first league goal came on 21 March 2009 in a 3–1 victory over CA Osasuna. He quickly became a key player, but despite his efforts, his team was relegated in the 2011/2012 season, after finishing 20th. He then moved to Levante UD, who paid €100,000 for his services.
On 31 August 2015, Diop was on the move again when he signed for Espanyol, but in 2017 he cut ties with the club and signed for his current club, SD Eibar where his current deal runs until the summer of 2021.
With years of experience, Diop will be one of the players SD Eibar turn to as they fight relegation in a tight battle right above the drop zone.
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By La Liga