Africa's transfer window: Diamonds and Duds feature Ademola Lookman and Taiwo Awoniyi

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Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Jack Grealish attracted the most attention during a fascinating transfer window, but Africa's stars were also involved in some of the biggest deals and some of the most compelling moves.

With Deadline Day now behind us, ESPN reviews the best and the worst -- the diamonds and the duds -- of Africa's movers during the mid-year 2021 transfer window.

Diamond: Ademola Lookman

Leicester City have enjoyed a terrific transfer window both from an African point of view -- Patson Daka and Boubakary Soumare just missed out on this list -- and with two smart defensive additions.

On Deadline Day, they secured a move for Anglo-Nigerian forward Lookman, who's set for a third shot at the Premier League after featuring in the top flight for both Everton and Fulham.

Still only 23, Lookman has had a rollercoaster career, from disagreeing with Sam Allardyce to starring in the German Bundesliga with RB Leipzig, to losing his way with that same club, only to show flashes of excellence with Fulham before ultimately enduring relegation to the Championship.

He's clearly a talented player -- he netted five goals in 11 Bundesliga outings during his first stint with Leipzig -- but can he realise his potential with the Foxes?

The omens look good; he has the player profile the club typically go for, while being identified as a target by Brendan Rodgers is testament to the forward's bubbling quality. He'll surely benefit from working with the Northern Irish coach, who has helped to elevate similar players.

He'll likely be a backup for left winger Harvey Barnes, initially, but Rodgers may also use the right-footed Lookman on the right flank as he looks to maintain width.

Dud: Percy Tau

There was great excitement in Cairo when Al Ahly pulled off the signing of South Africa international Percy Tau from Premier League Brighton & Hove Albion.

On one hand, there's much to be excited about.

Tau -- still only 27 -- should have his best years ahead of him, he boasts the technical quality to tear the Egyptian top flight to pieces, and represents a more complete talent than Ahly's original target, Ramadan Sobhy.

He's also being reunited with Pitso Mosimane, under whom he enjoyed the finest days of his career as a member of the dominant Mamelodi Sundowns team that won the CAF Champions League in 2016.

Under Mosimane, Tau should rediscover his top form.

However, it's hard to disagree with Benni McCarthy that this is a major step back for Tau, who had been South Africa's great hope to break into the Premier League.

He was made to wait for his Seagulls' debut due to work permit restrictions, but, after biding his time in Belgium, he was brought back to the club in January as they sought an X-factor to stave off relegation.

Even after making just three appearances last term -- a bitter disappointment -- Tau spoke optimistically about making his mark at Brighton, only to be deemed surplus to requirements.

"He's taken a step back instead of fighting it out at Brighton against the likes of Neal Maupay, [Leandro] Trossard, Danny Welbeck," McCarthy said. "My personal opinion and feeling on this is that it was a move backwards for him."

Diamond: Abdallah Sima

Senegal's Sima has been linked with the likes of Manchester United and Arsenal in recent transfer windows, so Brighton have pulled off something of a coup to recruit him for a fee around the £7 million mark from Slavia Prague.

He arrived in the Czech Republic only in early 2020, and enjoyed his first season of professional football with domestic heavyweights Slavia last term after initially being recruited for their reserve side.

Opportunity knocked when the club endured a combined injury-and-coronavirus crisis, and he was already Slavia's star man before he scored a double in the derby against Sparta Prague in December.

He ended the season with 15 goals in 32 outings, and despite being 6 ft 2 in (188 cm), is more than a one-dimensional target man.

Sima is well rounded -- boasting a wide array of talents -- and he'll be confident of making the step up, despite his rough edges, having already demonstrated his class in the UEFA Europa League.

Brighton fans must bide their time, however, after the 19-year-old was loaned to Stoke City in the Championship for the remainder of the campaign in order to help him adapt to the English game.

He'll get his fair share of cold, rainy nights at the Bet365 Stadium, and should be primed to make an impact for the Seagulls in 2022.

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Dud: Simy Nwankwo

Unlike Tau, Simy did need to leave his club and seek pastures new this window, but, like the South African, it's hard to argue he took a major step forward in his career.

The towering frontman was a red-hot prospect heading into the window following a sensational campaign with Crotone in Italy last term.

Despite the club's anticipated relegation from Serie A, he nonetheless scored a remarkable 20 goals in the Italian top flight, defying his club's lowly status and consistent defeats to represent a regular threat to opposition defences.

His tally made him the top Nigerian scorer in Serie A history, while he also broke the record for the most goals by a Nigerian player in a single season in one of Europe's big five leagues.

Simy, 29 at the season's end, ought to have been able to have had his pick of potential suitors.

He was linked to AS Roma, Brighton, Fiorentina, Tottenham Hotspur, Lazio -- the admirers appeared endless -- only for the Super Eagles striker to join newly promoted Salernitana.

It seemed a sideways move, at best, for the forward, who once again finds himself at a club that will have its work cut out to avoid relegation, likely to be chasing possession in the majority of matches this term.

Diamond: Taiwo Awoniyi

We close with a Nigerian mover who can be much happier with his change in circumstance during the window. Awoniyi's move from Liverpool to FC Union Berlin for £6.5 million makes sense for all parties.

The Reds, for a start, have offloaded a squad player who was not in Jurgen Klopp's plans, while making a £6.2 million profit on a forward who joined directly from Nigerian football six years ago.

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For Union, they are signing a talent who they've had a chance to already see up close having been on loan at the club last term, and who has worked within the setup and coaching structure, and will not require time to settle with his new employers.

In time, they may feel their outlay represents a bargain as well, as the likes of Fulham and West Bromwich Albion were reportedly keen on Awoniyi's services during the first half of 2021.

The player himself -- still only 24 -- now has an opportunity to make a clean break from a Liverpool career that never truly got off the ground due to work-permit issues, and he can set about realising the promise that once saw him likened to Rashidi Yekini.

After seven loan deals since 2015, he desperately needed stability and the chance to grow in one environment.

Three goals in three German Bundesliga outings this season, as well as two in two in the UEFA Europa Conference League, bodes well for the striker, who must now target a return to international football with Nigeria.

Honorable Mentions (Diamonds): Patson Daka (Leicester City), Achraf Hakimi (Paris Saint-Germain), Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa (Napoli), Boubakary Soumare (Leicester City)