The January transfer window has been quiet in many respects as Europe’s biggest clubs have not yet made a splash. Typically, with the window only a few days away from shutting down, financial analysts ought to be examining expenditure amongst Europe’s best clubs but so far, the biggest deal in the window has seen Manchester City spend £28 million to sign Wilfried Bony thus making him Africa’s most expensive footballer. In light of Bony’s emergence as Africa’s new king, Ventures Africa takes a cursory look at Africa’s five most expensive footballers highlighting what happened after their moves as well as their successes with their personal brands.
- Didier Drogba
The move: Marseille to Chelsea, £24m (2004)
What happened next: Didier Drogba arrived at Stamford Bridge with a lot of promise after bagging 32 goals in 55 games for Marseille in the seasons before. Growing to become an integral part of Jose Mourinho’s revolutionary team, Drogba repaid Chelsea with a number of important performances and goals over the years. His biggest though, was the last spot-kick in a penalty shootout to help Chelsea win its first ever, and long coveted, UEFA Champions League trophy in 2012. The Ivorian forward cemented his place a legend in Chelsea’s history books as he bagged a total of 157 goals in 341 appearances for the club between 2004 and 2012.
Commercial success: Drogba has, for the last decade, or so been one of the biggest sports and football brands in Africa. Since the move to Chelsea and his role in helping the club win a number of important titles and playing on the big stage, Drogba’s brand has become increasing appealing and doubled with Drogba’s continuing philanthropic initiatives in his native Ivory Coast, most notably the commitment to build a £3 million hospital, corporate partnership with the Didier Dorgba brand has proven strategically rewarding. In 2013 alone, Drogba earned a reported $5 million from sponsorship and was then valued at a staggering $33 million. Drogba’s highest paying deals are understood to have come from associations with Nike, Pepsi and Samsung but the forward has also sought to explore the mass and commercial appeal of his brand as he has launched an underwear line. Drogba remains one of Africa’s most important football figures and despite approaching firmly being in the twilight of his career, his market value of his brand is very much in its prime.
Where is he now: Drogba, now 36, has returning to his old stomping ground, Stamford Bridge to reunite with old boss and mentor, Jose Mourinho. He has so far scored six goals in 23 appearances and has officially retired from national team duty with Ivory Coast.
- Yaya Toure
The move: Barcelona to Manchester City, £24m (2010)
What happened next: Yaya Toure’s move to City coincided with the club’s emergence as a true super European club as the midfielder played an immense role in helping the club win a first Premier League title in more than 50 years. After being a little more than a squad player at Barcelona, Yaya Toure has grown to become a key member of the new look Manchester City team scoring vital goals in cup finals and winning a raft of personal awards. He has so far scored 61 goals in 209 games with his personal best record in terms of goals coming last season after he scored 24 goals in 49 games.
Commercial success: Yaya Toure’s growth in stature has come with a corresponding growth in commercial success. The Ivorian has earned personal endorsement deals with German sportsear manufacturer, PUMA and car brand, Nissan. The PUMA deal involves Africa-wide distribution of PUMA gear to many of Africa’s children in a bid to help unearth the next generation of talented footballers as well as adequately aid their progress. Yaya Toure’s deal with Nissan also sees him designated as a global ambassador alongside some global icons like Andres Iniesta. The deal presents Nissan with excellent leveraging opportunities not just in Africa where Yaya Toure is a big figure but also in European football competitions such as the UEFA Champions League where Yaya Toure frequently features in.
Where is he now: Toure is 31 years old and still plays for Manchester City and also serves as skipper of the Elephants of Ivory Coast.
- Michael Essien
The move: Lyon to Chelsea, £24.4m (2005)
What happened next: Michael Essien, after playing a role in establishing Lyon as the biggest club in France, joined Jose Mourinho at Cheslea and quickly became one of the world’s most dominant midfield players with stellar displays to help Chelsea win Premier League titles as well as a number of cup competitions. Essien was earmarked as one of the key components of Mourinho’s great title winning team of the mid-2000s and won the prestigious BBC African Footballer of the Year Award in 2006. He was named Chelsea player of the year in 2007 and was named in the 2008 African Cup of Nations Team of the Tournament.
Commercial success: Essien has enjoyed substantial success with his personal brand which remarkably grew in strength following his emergence as one of Africa’s foremost footballers. The midfielder has enjoyed endorsement deals with MTN, Samsung and Pepsi. The Ghanaian midfielder is also reportedly involved with leveraging his personal brand with a fragrance line, a fashion line as well as a personal Vodka brand.
Where is he now: Essien’s best days appear to be wholly behind him as he now plays for Italian club-side AC Milan after enduring an injury ravaged ending to his time at Chelsea.
- Emmanuel Adebayor
The move: Arsenal to Manchester City, £25m (2009)
What happened next: Unlike others on this list, Emmanuel Adebayor’s move did not have the desired impact as the Togolese star lasted at Manchester City for only one full season. In his first season, Adebayor made 31 appearnaces scoring 14 goals but only managed 5 goals in 14 appearances the next season before making a January loan move to Real Madrid.
Commercial success: Despite Adebayor’s relative failure at the to flight with Manchester City and Real Madrid, the forward signed a deal with energy drink brand Power Horse in 2010 and has also enjoyed corporate association with sportswear brand, Adidas. The forward has also indicated that he may seek a post-football career in punditry after appearing on the BBC World Cup coverage for the 2010 World Cup.
Where is he now: Adebayor has spent the last few seasons at Premier League side Tottenham but his career appears to have stalled after recent personal problems have seen him excluded from Tottenham’s match-day squads.
- Wilfired Bony
The move: Swansea City to Manchster City, £28m (2015)
Bony has only just completed his move to Manchester City but you can read our special analysis of his move here.