Africans Abroad: Ebere Eze hits a wall as Africa's Premier League stars struggle

Crystal Palace wonderkid Eberechi Eze was effectively silenced by Leeds United on Monday evening, despite Whites boss Marcelo Bielsa lauding his qualities ahead of the contest.

Meanwhile, Youssef En-Nesyri extended his scoring record in Spain with his 13th goal of the season this weekend as Munir El Haddadi also impressed for Sevilla.

Here's ESPN's weekly review of Africa's biggest names in Europe's top leagues.


Ahead of Leeds United's Monday night fixture against Crystal Palace, Bielsa talked up the sensational form of Eagles wonderkid Eze, suggesting that the Yorkshiremen had no way to handle him.

"If you saw [Wilfried Zaha] and [Eze] play, they are very good, which is the most significant thing I can add," he told journalists. "We don't have a formula to neutralise [Eze]."

Immense praise from one of the game's great tacticians for the Anglo-Nigerian wonderkid, who is still only halfway through his maiden season in the top flight, but on the day, it was Bielsa who had the last laugh.

Goals from Jack Harrison and Patrick Bamford were enough to take United past Palace in a surprisingly comfortable victory, while Eze -- who had had a hand in two goals in his two previous outings -- was indeed thoroughly neutralised.

When required, Harrison and Ezgjan Alioski doubled up on the wideman, who completed just one successful dribble all encounter and failed to hit the target with either of his two attempts.

Eze nonetheless created three goalscoring opportunities, but with Zaha absent, the Eagles lacked a presence up top.

Indeed, the Londoners have now lost 17 of their last 19 Prem outings when the Ivory Coast attacker has been absent, finding the net in just two of those 17 defeats.

It's surely too much for Eze, still only 22, to fill the offensive void left by Zaha, but without him, Roy Hodgson's side certainly need a hero.

Elsewhere, the Premier League's biggest African stars all continued in their various malaises as the season continues to get away from Liverpool and Arsenal respectively.

Despite scoring against Manchester City, Mohamed Salah was far from his explosive best as Liverpool fell to a 4-1 defeat, with Sadio Mane also sub-par as the defending champions were dealt a hammer blow in their bid to retain the crown.

At Villa Park, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang came off the bench -- as he had done in defeat against Wolverhampton Wanderers -- as the Gunners fell to another painful loss.

The Gabon striker had been absent for over a fortnight caring for his sick mother, but he was unable to equalise during an anonymous half-hour cameo.

Thomas Partey was withdrawn after 74 minutes in which he failed to contribute either defensive rigour or offensive vision, while Nicolas Pepe's most notable contributions were to lose the ball -- maddeningly for Gunners fans -- in several promising positions.


Considering the struggles of some of Africa's top stars in the Premier League, Morocco and Sevilla frontman En-Nesyri is making a strong case to be considered the continent's player of the season.

Indeed, he was named La Liga's Player of the Month for January last week, and marked the award with another superb performance.

Despite rumours linking him away from the club in the January transfer window -- West Ham United were understood to be interested -- the forward remained in Andalusia, and extended his goalscoring form as Getafe were dispatched this weekend.

The obdurate visitors held out until the 67th minute, but were undone by the 54th-minute dismissal of Togo centre-back Djene Dakonam following a tackle that left Lucas Ocampos injured, and their resolve was broken late on.

It was substitute Munir, whose bid to play for Morocco was finally [for a second time] ratified by Fifa last week, celebrated his long-awaited eligibility by opening the scoring midway through the second half.

Only two minutes after stepping off the bench, El Haddadi met a fine pass from Joan Jordan to finish calmly beyond Ruben Yanez with his first touch.

Then, 20 minutes later, new arrival Papu Gomez doubled Sevilla's lead, before En-Nesyri added a third late on when he finished with aplomb after breaking beyond the Getafe backline.

The goal was his 13th in 21 league outings this term - of which 14 have been starts - and takes him back level with Lionel Messi in the league's goalscoring charts. Only Luis Suarez (16) has more goals than the Morocco frontman.

Atlas Lions goalkeeper Yassine Bounou registered another clean sheet for Sevilla as Julen Lopetegui's side registered their fourth consecutive victory (seven in all competitions) to move six points clear of fifth-placed Villarreal.


The Serie A title race continues to heat up, with the top three gathering pace with back-to-back wins over the last 10 days.

Both of the Milan heavyweights are enjoying the services of African players at the top of their game, with Franck Kessie and Achraf Hakimi both excelling again this weekend.

League leaders Milan dispatched Simy Nwankwo's Crotone 4-0 on Sunday, with Kessie delivering a typical midfield general's performance in the heart of the park.

The Ivorian created three goalscoring opportunities, drove his team forward, and was at the centre of a controlled display by the Rossoneri.

While Kessie was impressive again, he is still without his sidekick and midfield partner -- Algeria's Ismael Bennacer -- who is still finding his way to full fitness.

The duo have forged arguably the best midfield partnership in the division, and Milan are yet to lose in the matches they've started together across Serie A and the Europa League.

For Crotone, it was a debut to forget for Algeria's Adam Ounas, who signed on loan from Napoli on deadline day, but there were glimpses of invention from the North African to suggest that he can have a role to play in their bid to beat the drop.

As Kessie's Milan move up to 49 points, so Inter remain hot on their tail on 47 points.

Hakimi has realised the lofty expectations that accompanied his 2020 move from Real Madrid, and weighed in with the assist for Ivan Perisic's goal -- Inter's second in a 2-0 victory at Fiorentina -- as they took the bout beyond their hosts.

The Morocco wideman has now made 10 decisive goal contributions (scoring six, four assists) in 21 league outings so far this term.