Boasting a wide array of talent and tremendous skill, this past season of LaLiga shone a spotlight on the league’s renowned tradition of African players and those of African descent.
Included in its long list of prolific Africans are some of Ghana’s finest football exports, Thomas Partey and Joseph Aidoo. Joined by fellow countrymen and former LaLiga players Michael Essien, Mubarak Wakaso and Kevin Prince-Boateng, today we celebrate five Ghanaian superstars who have made their mark on Spanish football.
Born in Tema, Ghana, the 24-year-old centre-back put in impressive performances and gained the trust of the RC Celta fans this past season. A nominee for Defender of the Year in the Ghanaian Premier League back in 2014 during his time with Inter Allies, Aidoo has thrived on Spanish soil since he made his move to Europe five years ago. He started his career at Celta with a bang, appearing 32 times in his first season and cementing his place in their line of defence.
Having defended the Célticos with ferocity throughout the season, particularly following LaLiga’s restart in June 2020, Aidoo offered an unshakable presence and helped his side keep four clean sheets. His impressive performance was critical in their last game against Espanyol, which guaranteed their safety in LaLiga.
The talented footballer has also been capped five times for the Black Stars and was set to defend his nation’s honour at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sudan before the COVID-19 pandemic.
With over 150 LaLiga appearances under his belt, Atlético de Madrid’s Golden Boy is and will continue to be a firm favourite in the top flight. The Ghanaian midfielder first played for the club back in 2011 and has since become an indispensable cog in the Atleti machine, thanks to his exquisite defence and slick vertical passes.
One of the first names on Diego Simeone’s team sheets, Partey dominated in the centre of the park for the capital city club this season. And while he may not have scored as many goals as in other seasons, Partey’s performance still propelled the Rojiblancos to their eighth consecutive top-three finish in the league.
Hailing from the town of Odumase Krobo, the 27-year-old has also been a Ghanaian International for four years and proudly represented his country at two Africa Cup of Nations tournaments. Let’s see what damage this African dynamo will unleash in the 2020–21 season.
The great Essien moved from Stamford Bridge to the Santiago Bernabéu in 2012, joining Real Madrid on loan from Chelsea. Here, he was reunited with former Chelsea manager José Mourinho, who playfully referred to him as his son.
Under Mourinho’s management, the Bison (nicknamed for his frightening fearlessness) made 35 appearances and scored two goals for Real Madrid, dedicating his second goal to his beloved coach.
Capped more than 50 times for the Black Stars, the accomplished midfielder now plays for Sabail in the Azerbaijan Premier League.
It was a sad day for LaLiga when the combative Ghanaian recently announced that he would be leaving Alavés for Chinese Super League side Jiangsu Suning. Since 2017, Wakaso made 70 appearances, scored one goal and provided three assists for the Basque Country team.
The fierce midfielder has spent most of his career in Spain, playing for Elche, Villarreal, Espanyol, Las Palmas, Granada and finally Alavés, racking up a total of 170 appearances in LaLiga.
He currently still plays for Ghana’s national team, having represented the squad at four Africa Cup of Nations tournaments and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Another legendary Ghanaian who we miss in the Spanish league, Boateng also made waves in LaLiga across his spells for Las Palmas and Barcelona.
The multitalented midfielder also thrived as a forward, scoring ten goals for the islanders in his one season. In the 2018/19 season, he joined Barcelona and became the first Ghanaian star for the Catalonia club, playing four times and winning the LaLiga title with his Barça teammates.
Described by FIFA as being “blessed with strength, speed, killer instinct in front of goal, and an uncommon flamboyance in the attacking third”, the German-Ghanaian talent is currently on the books of Italian side Fiorentina having spent the second half of the season on loan at Turkish Süper Lig giants Beşiktaş.