Five African footballers who need a move this January transfer window

Laurens: Inevitable Aubameyang would be stripped of captaincy (0:56)

Julien Laurens feels Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang being stripped of the Arsenal captaincy was to be expected. (0:56)

The January transfer window represents opportunity for players who haven't thrived during the first half of the campaign to get a move, give their season the reboot it needs, and prove themselves in a fresh environment.

As the 2022 winter window gets firmly underway, ESPN profile five African players who may well be absolutely desperate to change their scene and salvage their season.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Aubameyang may have jetted off to Cameroon to compete in the Africa Cup of Nations with Gabon, but expect transfer rumours around the striker and his future at Arsenal to percolate throughout January.

His relationship with Gunners coach Mikel Arteta appears to have hit new lows in recent months, with Auba internally suspended and then stripped of the captaincy following a disciplinary issue in early December.

The full details haven't been revealed, but even after Arteta meanderingly implied that he could return to the side, the 32-year-old has been overlooked by the North Londoners since a five-minute cameo in the defeat by Everton a month ago.

His latest setback comes amidst diminishing returns, he's scored just four league goals this term, none since late October, and only just scraped double figures in the league last term.

His choice as captain by Arteta was queried, and in truth, while there have been occasionally inspired performances, Aubameyang has only intermittently demonstrated the intensity and dynamism that the Spaniard wants from his forwards.

Despite his advancing years, Aubameyang should still have something to offer as an elite finisher, who netted 44 Prem goals across his first two full seasons in the top flight.

An ESPN report noted that the Gunners would listen to offers for the forward this window -- even though he still has 18 months left on his deal -- and the likes of Barcelona, Everton, Juventus, Newcastle United and West Ham United have all been suggested as potential escape routes for the hitman.

Nicolas Pepe

Sticking with the Arsenal theme, while Aubameyang's decline over the last 18 months has been startling, Ivory Coast striker Pepe's deteriorating contribution in North London has become depressingly predictable.

Now long dismissed as a flop, Arsenal will surely rue parting with a club-record €79 million to sign the forward, although they could fairly have expected more from a player who had a hand in 33 goals for LOSC Lille in his final Ligue 1 season.

At times since Arteta's return to the Emirates Stadium, he's suggested that he could have a role to play in the Spanish coach's revolution -- he did score 10 Prem goals last term -- but one meagre assist and zero goals in nine league outings so far this term is evidence that he's been pushed to the peripheries.

Indeed, Pepe has started just five league games all term, with Arteta acknowledging last month that the wideman wasn't happy with his current standing at the club.

"Nico has not been happy and asking for more minutes," Areta told journalists. "This is the attitude we want from our players."

It may be the attitude Arsenal are looking for, but the opportunity to cash in on the wideman should any suitors emerge may well appeal to both parties.

At 26, Pepe should still have a lot to offer, but would any club take a gamble on trying to re-conjure that magnificent form of 2018-19 in a player who's rarely looked the part in England?

Axel Tuanzebe

Tuanzebe's loan move to Aston Villa in August made sense for his parent club Manchester United -- who had just signed Raphael Varane -- and for the defender himself, who was returning to a club for whom he'd previously excelled in the Championship.

Villa, too, could have hoped to have benefited from the Congolese defender's increased experience, with Tuanzebe having made 19 appearances for United in all competitions under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last term.

Returning to Villa Park, however, things haven't quite worked out. Tuanzebe started just six games under Dean Smith, and has featured for just eight minutes under incoming head coach Steven Gerrard, who has preferred a pairing of Tyrone Mings and Ezri Konsa.

Napoli appear on the brink of giving Tuanzebe a chance to salvage the season, with the defender cutting short his loan spell with Villa in order to move to Serie A.

A fee of £600,000 has been mooted for the Partenopei to secure the versatile defender until the season's end as they look to mount a Serie A title challenge, and the 24-year-old should relish the prospect of working in a new environment and playing alongside Kalidou Koulibaly.


A recent teammate of Tuanzebe's at Villa, Egypt's Trezeguet will surely be keen to use the Africa Cup of Nations as a shop window to remind potential suitors of his quality.

A serious knee injury in April prevented him from featuring for Villa this season until a 10-minute cameo vs Brentford at the weekend, although in truth, he hasn't been a major success in English football since signing from Kasimpasa at the start of the 2019-20 season.

He still reportedly has admirers in Turkey -- Super Lig giants Galatasaray are understood to be monitoring the situation -- and Gerrard may see the North African as an asset in order to raise funds for other key areas of the side.

With Emi Buendia and Leon Bailey recruited by Smith in the summer to compete for wide positions, and Anwar El Ghazi and Betrand Traore also at the cup, Trezeguet may have to accept that his time in the Midlands must come to an end.

Charly Musonda

Once upon a time, one of Africa's brightest prospects, Zambia's Musonda has fallen on hard times in recent seasons.

During late 2017, he made seven appearances for Chelsea -- appearing full of confidence after an encouraging loan spell at Real Betis -- but things unravelled during a loan spell at Celtic for the second half of that season.

He returned to Stamford Bridge prematurely after failing to force his way into the Buoys' plans, and a loan spell with Vitesse Arnhem in 18-19 was devastated after a week due to a severe posterior cruciate ligament injury.

The former Belgium U-21 international is 25 now, and with his contract at Chelsea due to end in July, desperately needs a new environment in which to attempt to re-launch his floundering career.

He finally returned to action with the U-23s earlier this season, but announced in late 2021 that he would leave Stamford Bridge in 2022, with his offers to play for the club for free seemingly being rebuffed.

A complete career reboot is required, but Musonda -- once linked to the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Manchester United -- could still have the talent to forge a professional career during his late 20s.