Osimhen to Chelsea for £200m?! Bold predictions for African football

Does a move to Chelsea make sense for Victor Osimhen?

Shaka Hislop debates whether Victor Osimhen would want to leave Napoli for a move to Chelsea.

We've just witnessed an unforgettable year for African football, with the launch of the African Football League, outstanding performances by the continent's team's at the Women's World Cup, and historic contributions by star players across Europe's major leagues.

As we enter 2024 -- an Africa Cup of Nations year, no less -- we deliver nine bold predictions for the next 12 months of African football.

Osimhen becomes football's first £200 million player

Is this the year that Victor Osimhen's storied tenure at Napoli comes to a lucrative conclusion?

He's inspired the Naples giants to the Scudetto -- partly realising Amaju Pinnick's prediction that the striker would match Diego Maradona's impact in southern Italy -- and won the Serie A Golden Boot in the process.

Eighth place in the Ballon d'Or was worthy acknowledgement of his impact across 2023, and with AFCON this year, as well as another shot at club honours with Napoli, don't be surprised if Osimhen gets closer to the award this year.

We're also tipping him to get a big-money move; and if Osimhen does leave Napoli, it surely won't be for much less than a world-record fee.

Neymar's £198 million move to Paris Saint-Germain remains the benchmark; could the likes of Chelsea, Manchester United or even PSG themselves make Osimhen the world's first £200 million player?

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Morocco's golden generation build on World Cup glory

Morocco may stand just behind Senegal and Ivory Coast in bookmakers' odds for the Nations Cup title next month, but we're tipping the Atlas Lions to build on their World Cup success in 2022 and finally end their wait for a continental crown.

The North Africans have too often flattered to deceive at the continental high table, failing to realise their immense promise under Herve Renard and then Vahid Halilhodzic in recent tournaments.

However, at the World Cup in Qatar, a richly talented squad became Africa's first semifinalists, and they are tipped to build on that success just over a year down the line to win their first AFCON since 1976.

There's talent across the park, from African Goalkeeper of the Year Yassine Bounou to striker Youssef En-Nesyri, while the side also has defensive discipline, a varied offensive threat, and the muscle memory of playing together for several years.

If the players struggling at club level -- notably Hakim Ziyech and Sofyan Amrabat -- can rediscover their form during the group stage, then Morocco will take some stopping.

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Salah becomes the next Saudi star

Mohamed Salah is showing little sign of slowing down as one of the most lethal offensive threats in the English Premier League.

He departs for the Nations Cup having had a hand in 22 goals in 20 Premier League outings this season, including two goals and an assist in the 4-2 victory over Newcastle United on New Year's Day.

He has 18 months left on his contract at Anfield, and Liverpool will have to consider a bid for him this summer unless they are willing to offer the 31-year-old extended terms or allow him to leave on a free in 2025.

Expect one or two clubs from Saudi Arabia -- recognising the value of luring a genuine Arab superstar in his prime -- to test Liverpool's hand before the year is out, with Al Ittihad already reported to have offered a world-record fee for the forward in September.

One of the great love affairs in Premier League history could be set to end in 2024.


Klopp unfazed by Salah's upcoming AFCON absence

Jurgen Klopp says it's nothing new for Liverpool to be without star man Mohamed Salah during the Africa Cup of Nations.

AFCON heartbreak for Dede

We're predicting Ghana's André Ayew to make history and endure heartbreak at the Nations Cup.

Dede was included in the Ghana squad for the tournament, despite finding a new club only in November, and he appears set to play a significant role for Chris Hughton's teams in Ivory Coast, where he will feature in a record-equalling eighth AFCON.

However, we're predicting an unhappy ending for 115-cap Dede, as we're tipping him to fail -- for an eighth time -- in his bid to emulate his father, Abedi Pelé, and win the Nations Cup for Ghana.

Hughton's side appears to be too early in their development to truly challenge the "big teams", and the injury-enforced absence of the likes of Thomas Partey and Tariq Lamptey will be keenly felt.

Kudus to rival Osimhen in APOTY

Ghana's Mohammed Kudus is set to see his stock soar in 2024 -- at AFCON and beyond; indeed, he could be the player most likely to challenge Osimhen for the African Footballer of the Year award in the seasons to come.

The 23-year-old has been a revelation since swapping Ajax Amsterdam for West Ham United in the summer, proving to be one of the coups of the year for David Moyes.

We knew he was good -- not least after his striking displays at the World Cup in Qatar -- but six goals in 16 Premier League outings, including a delicious bicycle kick against Brentford in November, have surpassed expectations.

Kudus can establish himself as a genuine world-class talent in 2024.

Mohammed Kudus of West Ham United celebrates after scoring the team's second goal against FK TSC Backa Topola. Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

New ground broken for Africa's women in France

We still don't know which teams will represent Africa in the women's football competition at the Olympic Games in France, with the eight sides still standing set to compete in two-legged playoffs in February before a final qualifying round in April.

However, the progress made by the likes of Zambia, Morocco and South Africa bodes well for the continent's prospects of finally getting their hands on a medal in the women's event.

No African side has made the podium since the first edition of women's Olympic football in 1996, but there's reason for optimism after the continent's impressive showing at the Women's World Cup in 2023, when three of the four qualifiers reached the knockouts.

We're tipping at least one side to advance from the group stage, for the first time since Nigeria in 2004.

Peseiro gets the boot

It's already something of a surprise that Jose Peseiro is still at the helm of Nigeria -- and managing one of their most talented generations in recent decades -- despite his muddled tenure in charge of the Super Eagles.

The Nigerian Football Federation parted ways with Gernot Rohr on the eve of the previous AFCON tournament in order to avert disaster in Cameroon, so it's somewhat baffling that Peseiro remains, despite overseeing such miserable encounters as November's 1-1 home draw with Lesotho.

With a contract running only until February, it's not such a bold prediction that Peseiro will get the boot; indeed, it might even be considered a shock if he lasts that long, given Nigeria's lacklustre performances during the latter part of 2023.

Perhaps it will be a greater surprise if the NFF actually managed to get their next appointment right.

Broos and Bafana to end in tears

Hugo Broos is another coach who will do well to remain in his post at the year's end, despite overseeing a solid AFCON qualifying campaign for South Africa.

The Belgian won the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations with Cameroon by placing his faith in unheralded stars and cutting away some of the squad's more experienced heads. It's a similar story with Bafana Bafana, as he's rewarded some of the Premier Soccer League's up-and-comers at the expense of better-known stars.

So far, so good, but it remains to be seen whether the quality is there to realise the increasing expectation back home.

His outspoken, forthright approach eventually led to a fall out with the Cameroon federation; regardless success or failure at the Nations Cup, the South African Football Association and the wild-card Broos are unlikely to remain uncomfortable bedfellows for long.

Choupo-Moting wins the big one

We're backing Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting to become Africa's latest winner of the UEFA Champions League this season.

It appears to be an open field in this year's competition, with Bayern Munich one of several clubs with realistic hopes of victory in the final at Wembley.

The arrival of Harry Kane has given Bayern a remarkable potency, and they are likely to face less pressure on the home front than some of their chief rivals in the competition -- albeit they are second in the German Bundesliga standings, four points behind Bayer Leverkusen with a game in hand at the time of writing -- hence could be primed to win their first continental crown since 2020.

Choupo-Moting has dropped down the pecking order following the arrival of Kane -- he's made just three starts this season -- but minutes are still coming with 11 outings off the bench.

He's demonstrated in the past they he can be a difference-maker at the business end of the competition, and -- assuming reported interest from Manchester United doesn't turn into a January transfer -- could have a part to play come June.

A losing finalist with Paris Saint-Germain in 2020, Choupo-Moting could sign off four rollercoaster years in Bavaria with Europe's grandest club prize.


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