Transfer Window 2022: Grading Africa's biggest signings

Is Aubameyang a great fit for Chelsea? (0:50)

Gab Marcotti discusses whether Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is the right player for Chelsea. (0:50)

The transfer window was a blockbuster for African players, with some of the continent's biggest names -- Sadio Mane, Kalidou Koulibaly and Sebastien Haller among others -- sealing high-profile deals.

And that was true right until the window slammed shut on Sept. 1, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang one of the highest-profile moves on deadline day.

Here are the grades for all the major deals that happened after the window opened on July 1.

The most recent write-ups are at the top; each day is in order of highest fee. All fees are reported unless confirmed with an asterisk.

September 1

€12m* (£10m, $12m)

Barcelona: A-
Chelsea: C+

Landing Aubameyang for free in early February, Barca made the most of his good form for a brief period but, after the signing of Robert Lewandowski, have now made a quick profit to boost their finances. A smart move, as he clearly hasn't impressed Xavi that much, but the club may struggle if Lewandowski gets injured.

Chelsea needed to sign a striker, but they might have made a mistake with Aubameyang. Obviously he knows coach Thomas Tuchel from Borussia Dortmund, and has shown he can score in the Premier League, but €12m is a lot for a 33-year-old and the manner of his exit from Arsenal in February should raise some red flags.

August 25


Arsenal: D
Nice: B+

Pepe signed from Lille for €80m in 2019 and hasn't lived up to his club-record fee. The winger has netted 27 goals and given 21 assists in 112 games but has struggled to make an impact, and it's best for all concerned that he move on. It's been a terrible move, yet the loan does not include an obligation or option to make the transfer permanent, so Arsenal will have to decide what to do next summer when his contract will have a year left.

If Nice can get Pepe performing the way he did for Lille, then they will have got themselves a good deal. They aren't taking a gamble by bringing him in on loan, so they'll hope that the familiar surroundings of Ligue 1 will bring the best out of him.

Season-long loan (€4m fee, £3.4m, $4m) with €7m (£5.95m, $6.975m) option to buy

Manchester United: C+
Marseille: A-

It was surely inevitable that Bailly would depart Old Trafford this summer, despite having signed a new contract with the club in Apr. 2021, with the Africa Cup of Nations winner falling ever further down the pecking order since Erik ten Hag arrived.

The signing of Lisandro Martinez, along with the presence of Raphael Varane, Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof, as well as Phil Jones and Axel Tuanzebe, left United with a surplus of centre-backs, although they surely would have preferred a permanent exit for a player who will be entering the final year of his deal in 12 months' time.

Marseille acquire a defender who -- at 28 -- should be in his prime, while the structure of the deal, which sees Marseille paying an initial €4 million fee, allows them to stay commitment-free should Bailly's injury problems return.

A €7 million permanent-transfer clause will be activated if the Ivorian plays more than 50% of matches, although Les Phoceens have ample time to assess the defender's ability and fitness before spending further.

The ex-Villarreal man's experience could prove a valuable asset for OM as they return to the UEFA Champions League.

August 4

€14.7 (£12.5m, $14.6m)

RB Leipzig: B
Atalanta: B+

Lookman hadn't played for Leipzig since Oct. 2020, so his sale does nothing to weaken their current team ahead of their UEFA Champions League campaign, and they'll be glad to have offloaded a player who hasn't appeared to be a part of the club's plans for several seasons.

They've made a loss on a player who moved to Germany permanently from Everton for €18m in July 2019, and will surely rue their inability to get the most of a precocious talent who glittered during a loan spell with the club in early 2018.

At 24, it's time for the Nigeria international to rediscover the kind of form he hasn't shown for over four years, and Atalanta's front-foot style could represent the perfect environment for him to begin to rebuild his career after a couple of loan spells at Fulham and Leicester City.

A goal on his debut at Sampdoria was an encouraging start, although his signing does represent a gamble.

July 20

€23m (£19.6m, $23.4m)

Rangers: B
Ajax Amsterdam: B+

Having lost Noussair Mazraoui on a free transfer to Bayern Munich, Ajax needed a replacement at right-back, and duly turned to Rangers' Bassey.

It's a signing that makes sense for all parties.

The Scots make a significant profit on the Nigeria international, having picked him up on a pre-contract from Leicester City two years ago, but they may have trouble replacing him.

Bassey's immense athleticism permitted Giovanni van Bronckhorst to play a particularly high line with the Scottish giants, as he fulfilled a recovery role not dissimilar to that of Kyle Walker at Manchester City.

Ajax will be aware of the defender's limitations, notably the accuracy of his passing, but the 22-year-old certainly has a high ceiling for improvement.

July 16

€40m (£34m, $41m)

Napoli: C
Chelsea: A-

Chelsea were desperate for new blood in the heart of their defence, after the departure of Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen, and in Koulibaly they've signed one of the finest centre-backs in the world game.

Ideally, Senegal's Africa Cup of Nations winner would have departed Napoli a few transfer windows ago, but, at 31, he will still give some of his best years to Thomas Tuchel's side.

The €40 million fee is a bargain for Chelsea, while Napoli -- who were demanding €100 million before the coronavirus pandemic -- will be unable to replace Koulibaly's quality any time soon.

July 12

€7.1m (£6m, $7.2m)

Rangers: C
Southampton: B+

Aribo is another player who moved for a cut-price fee after entering the final year of his contract, and Rangers could realistically have expected to recoup more for a player of his talents.

He'll be hard to replace as well, having scored 26 goals from midfield in 148 outings for the club since signing from Charlton Athletic.

Southampton, by contrast, have picked up one of the African bargains of the summer, with the midfielder boasting the potential to be one of the finest in his position outside the top five.

Aribo has already begun winning over Saints fans, scoring a wondergoal in a pre-season friendly against Villarreal -- picking up the ball in his own box and driving the length of the pitch, beating five opponents in the process, before finishing with aplomb.

July 4


AC Milan: C-
Barcelona: A

Kessie is a superb acquisition for Barcelona -- arriving from Milan on a free transfer having come to the end of his contract - as they're picking up one of Europe's finest midfielders for his peak years.

At 25, Kessie should take his game to new heights although he already has the experience of a freshly delivered Serie A title triumph.

Perhaps there are questions about whether he can adapt to life at Barcelona and the specific style required by Xavi Hernandez, but his energy, leadership skills and technical prowess should make him a major success.

July 1

€35.8m (£30m, $37m)

Stade Rennais: B+
West Ham United: B+

After attempting to sign Morocco's Aguerd last season, David Moyes finally got his mane when West Ham parted with a hefty £30 million for the defender.

Aguerd will relish the challenge of tougher competition and the natural next step in his career; he's already featured in the UEFA Champions League and established himself as one of Ligue 1's finest central defenders.

The 26-year-old's ankle injury is certainly a setback, but in time he should prove a complementary partner for Kurt Zouma, ensuring the Hammers get long-term value for their investment.

Rennes have also done well to receive such a fee having paid an initial estimated €5m to recruit Aguerd from Dijon in 2020.

€32m (£27.4m, $35m)

Liverpool: B
Bayern Munich: A

Ostensibly, the loss of reigning African Footballer of the Year Mane weakens Liverpool, who will struggle to replace his consistent threat -- 90 Premier League goals across six seasons at Anfield -- and his departure has an "end of an era" feel.

On the other hand, if new acquisition Darwin Nunez and January signing Luis Diaz can weigh in with considerable goal hauls of their own, then the Reds' decision to cash in on the 30-year-old -- entering the final year of his deal -- in a deal that may rise to €41 million may appear to be a shrewd move.

Mane has already won silverware at Bayern -- scoring in the Supercup rout of RB Leipzig -- and he should be a massive hit during his three-year deal in Bavaria.

Will another African Footballer of the Year gong soon be beckoning?

€29.9m (£25m, $30m)

Brighton & Hove Albion: C
Tottenham Hotspur: B+

Brighton, like Liverpool, recouped a decent transfer fee for a player entering the final year of his contract, but with Bissouma only 25 they may have harboured realistic hopes of retaining his services a little longer.

Similarly, the Seagulls may have hoped for a greater pay-off for the Mali international considering his consistent performances for Graham Potter's side since his arrival in England.

The player already knows the ins and outs of the Premier League, likely reducing the adaptation time he'll require in North London, but the jury's out on whether he's a tangible upgrade on Spurs' existing midfield options.

£20.9m (£17.5m, $21.2m)

1. FC Union Berlin: A
Nottingham Forest: B

Not a massive outlay in today's market, but Forest are certainly pinning their hopes on Awoniyi being the team's primary source of goals as they look to avoid relegation.

It's a risky strategy, even if the forward's directness coupled with the pace and guile of Jesse Lingard (another of 12 signings so far) should give Forest some venom on the counter.

He departed Liverpool only a year ago, but an unexpectedly outstanding season for Union Berlin, in which he bagged 15 goals (his previous career best for a campaign was five), saw him identified as the man to fire Forest away from relegation.

Awoniyi must prove that last season was no one-off, but he's never previously played in the Premier League, and, given Forest's anticipated limitations, will have to make the most of the few chances that come his way.

Union have made a considerable profit on the forward, having signed him for just £6.5 million 12 months ago, and may have had few qualms about selling him with his stock at a career-high to date.

€15m (£12.5m, $15.2m)

Fulham: E
Napoli: B+

Fulham signed Zambo Anguissa for a club-record £30 million in the summer of 2018, but they consistently struggled to get the best out of him, have endured two relegations since, and made a £17.5 million loss on a player who ought to have been a neat investment.

The Cottagers could have attempted to reintegrate him (again) into their squad as they look to remain in the top tier, although Marco Silva has made it clear that he only wants players who are utterly committed to the Londoners' cause.

While on loan at Villarreal, the Cameroon international attracted interest from Real Madrid, and Napoli know what they're getting, having enjoyed the player's services temporarily last season.

His dribbling through the heart of the park is a major weapon for the Partenopei, and, who knows, perhaps he will be the last African player Napoli sign considering club president Aurelio De Laurentiis' bizarre comments this week that he will not recruit another player from the continent.


Ajax Amsterdam: D
Bayern Munich: A-

Another top-quality player from the Ajax production line, hewn from De Toekomst, Mazraoui should have followed in the footsteps of the likes of Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt and Lisandro Martinez in commanding a considerable transfer fee when he left Amsterdam.

Instead, he departs on a free transfer, with Ajax ultimately getting nothing for the time and finance they put into developing the player since he was a boy.

Bayern are getting a talent who's already played in the latter stages of the Champions League -- and looked comfortable at that level -- while his versatility can make him a particularly valuable addition to Julian Nagelsmann's squad.

Mazraoui is tactically astute and technically proficient -- profile -- characteristic of Ajax graduates -- and the 24-year-old should have no problems making the step up.


Ajax Amsterdam: C
Internazionale: B+

Onana had been with Ajax since leaving the Barcelona academy in 2015, establishing himself as a starter and being a key member of the side that reached the UEFA Champions League semifinal in 2019.

Unlike Mazraoui, however, Onana hasn't been a regular starter in recent years, making only six Eredivisie appearances last term as he returned from a nine-month suspension for taking a banned substance.

Veteran Remko Pasveer stepped in and excelled in Onana's absence, but at 38, he's not a long-term solution while youngster Jay Gorter endured a torrid time in the Johan Cruyff Shield defeat by PSV Eindhoven.

As long as Onana can truly shake off his post-suspension rustiness, Inter have identified the long-term replacement for captain Samir Handanovic.


Marseille: D
Aston Villa: B+

Another player who leaves his boyhood club on a free transfer, Kamara could in time prove to be one of the coups of the window.

He's only 22, but with 130 Ligue 1 matches in his belt, boasts the experience and composure of a much older player while promising a touch of class in possession as well.

Working with Steven Gerrard, one of the finest central midfielders in the game's history, should help Kamara's development, and the ex-Liverpool captain is clearly delighted to have picked up one of Europe's brightest prospects on a free transfer.

Gerrard revealed that Champions League clubs were interested in Kamara -- that's surely where he belongs -- but for now, is determined to use the youngster's passing ability to help Villa climb up the Premier League table.

He falls short of receiving an A grade because it remains to be seen whether he can transition from French football to the Premier League, with Leicester City's Boubakary Soumare representing a cautionary tale.