Monday Nov 23, 2020. 16:01
Respected Spanish football journalist Guillem Balagué believes Africa is moving in the right direction in terms of player development.
Asked by AfricanFootball.com whether he feels that Africa is producing more elite players than ever before, Balagué agreed that the continent is closing the gap.
While Ansu Fati has added to a long list of African-born players to commit their international futures to European countries in recent years, there is hope that players from the continent won’t have to go elsewhere in search of better facilities to nurture their talent in the future.
In Mohamed Salah, Riyad Mahrez, Sadio Mane and Hakim Ziyech Africa boast some of the best players in the world right now, and while the continent has always had some of the best talents, the amount of ‘elite’ footballers seems to be increasing.
“Definitely, the names you are talking about are some of the best players in the world and capable of working not only physically but with intelligence. To become one of the best players in the world you need both [those attributes],” Balagué told AfricanFootball.com during a joint virtual event between LaLiga and SuperSport last week, which offered insight into the workings of LaLiga TV.
“That is what is what is happening and I think it is down to two sources: One, players that come to Europe like Samuel Chukwueze who get involved in academies like Villarreal, one of the top academies in Spain, now you don’t even need to do that because academies in Africa are well prepared to develop talent.
He continued: “If you think of the Kadji Sports Academy in Cameroon, Kwara State Football Academy in Nigeria. Quite clearly there is a lot of work being done all over Africa on how to develop players and where you come from, certainly that is something you can tap into.
“Once you’ve done that and you become a professional, then it requires [the right] mentality, intelligence, a lot of things that take you to the top. There is no doubt that that is matched anywhere. There are intelligent players wherever you go now, they are physically well prepared, the last step is for someone to trust you, someone to give you an opportunity.”
LaLiga TV – which has been on SuperSport since the 2019/20 season – is the first dedicated 24/7 LaLiga Santander English-language channel in Sub-Saharan Africa – and it’s available to DStv subscribers. It gives football fans something that no other football league has before: a fan’s dream football channel offering in-depth coverage, informed debates, tactical analysis, and all the latest news on each and every team in LaLiga Santander.