Mohammed Salisu

Mohammed Salisu has been at the heart of a battle between two clubs and finally, a choice has been made.

The 21-year-old was set to move to Ligue 1 side Stade Rennais until Premier League outfit Southampton came in and gave him an offer he could not refuse.

He earned the biggest move of his young career on Wednesday after Southampton splashed the cash on him.

It is no surprise that Black Stars head coach, Charles Kwablan Akonnor, has tried on multiple occasions to get Salisu to represent Ghana.

He broke through Valladolid’s youth ranks to play a starring role in the Spanish outfit’s 2019/20 campaign and earned the tag as one of the biggest breakthrough stories in La Liga. He accumulated 31 league appearances this season, an impressive feat for the young defender.

Southampton coughed up €12 million for his services, his release clause and a fee considered enormous for a Ghanaian defender.

Where does the outlay rank among the biggest Ghanaian transfers to European clubs since 2001?

The top ten most expensive centre-backs in Europe

Salisu’s transfer means that he is now the most expensive Ghanaian central defender in Europe. The 21-year-old’s huge move to England puts him ahead of every centre-back in Ghana.

He overtook the legendary, John Mensah, who was top of the list after he completed a move to French outfit Lyon in 2008. The 37-year-old also made a switch to another French side in Stade Rennais in 2006, earning another place among the exclusive list.

He has commanded a transfer fee of €9.6 million from those two moves combined. The former Sunderland man last signed for Swedish side AFC United in 2016 where he made no appearances.

One of Mensah’s partners in the Black Stars, Shilla Illiasu also sealed his place on the list after completing a move to Russian side Saturn in 2006. He sealed his big transfer after making his name at Ghana Premier League powerhouses Asante Kotoko.

The 37-year-old last played for a defunct Armenian football club named Impuls FC in 2013.

Mensah’s best partner in crime, Isaac Vorsah, also appeared on the list on two occasions. His first big move happened in 2008. The 32-year-old made a move to Hoffenheim and four years later, decided to test his might in the Austrian top flight with RB Salzburg.

His two transfers totalled €3 million. He last played for Saudi Arabian club Ohod in 2018. In the current crop of Black Stars centre-backs, one of them commanded a higher fee from Hoffenheim.

Kasim Adams, a current Hoffenheim player, earned his move to the German side in 2018 after an impressive campaign with Swiss club Young Boys.

The 25-year-old was sent to Fortuna Dussledorf on loan for the 2019/20 season. Adams’ partner for the Black Stars, made the lineup as well.

Joseph Aidoo also earns a spot among the list on two occasions. The 24-year-old made a move to Belgian side KRC Genk in 2017. Two years later, La Liga came calling in the form of Celta Vigo and the highly rated defender answered.

In the three year span, Aidoo commanded a total of €9.25 million. He is now a key part of the Spanish outfit.

Nicholas Opoku, a star for Italian side Udinese, earns his spot on the list. The 22-year-old worked his way up from Kumasi Corner Babies to Berekum Chelsea. After an impressive string of performances, Club Africain made the move to sign him in 2017.

A number of clubs in Europe spotted his talent and tried to sign him after just one year in Club Africain but Udinese won the race. He featured for Amiens on loan in 2020.

Former Hearts of Lions star, Jerry Akaminko, earned a spot in the list as well. The 32-year-old played most of his career in Turkey. He started with Odurspor in 2008 and moved to Manisaspor in 2011. A year later, he made his big switch to Eskisehirspor.

He now plies his trade in the Idonesian league with Persik Kediri.

The numbers behind top ten Ghanaian centre-back transfers

€45.7 million was spent on the top ten Ghanaian centre-backs by European clubs. Only permanent transfers were considered. All figures were picked from transfermarkt.

Salisu takes the biggest chunk of the pie. His €12 million move to Southampton means his transfer eats up 26.2% of the accumulated fees for the top ten.

Mensah made a €1.2 million switch to Stade Rennais in 2006 and two years later, made a then record €8.4 million switch to Lyon. His combined fees take 21% of the total.

Aidoo comes next with an €8 million move to Celta Vigo in 2019 and a €1.25 million move to KRC Genk in 2017. He commanded a combined €9.25 million which takes 20.2% of the total amount.

Adams also takes a huge part of the total amount with his €8 million move to Hoffenheim in 2018. His transfer means he takes 17.5% of the accumulated figure spent on the top ten.

Vorsah appeared twice on the list with a €2 million move to RB Salzburg in 2012 and a €1 million transfer to Hoffenheim in 2008. His €3 million in total accounts for 6.6%.

Opoku comes up next after securing a €1.5 million transfer to Udinese in 2018. It makes up 3.3% of the total.

Akaminko and Illiasu take the final two spots with €1.35 million and €1 million moves to Eskisehispor and Saturn respectively. They take 3% and 2.2% of the totals.

In the graph above, it can be seen that England spent the highest (€12 million). The money goes solely into the purchase of Mohammed Salisu.

France funded the moves of John Mensah (€9.6 million), hence their high spot. Germany spent on Vorsah and Adams (€9 million) and Spain paid money for Aidoo (€8 million).

The bottom five spent on Illiasu, Opoku, Akaminko, Vorsah and Aidoo. It can also be noted that the bottom five countries combined (€7.1 million) spent lower than the top four countries individually.

It can be deduced that 2020 produced the highest expenditure among the top ten centre-backs and all of it is attributed to Salisu (€12 million).

The year 2018 (€9.5 million) brought the second spending with the money going into Aidoo and Opoku’s transfers. For the third spot (€9.4 million), you would have to go back to 2008 where John Mensah and Isaac Vorsah made huge moves.

The future expectations of Salisu

A €12 million outlay on the youngster signals the club’s intent to use him on a regular basis. The move seems to be the right one as Salisu will gain quality experience in one of the best leagues in the world.

With his fee surpassing that of John Mensah, a loyal servant and a legend in the Black Stars, there is hope that Salisu could be the next leader of the nation’s backline for future tournaments.

Salisu is yet to make an appearance for the senior national team but it is only a matter of time until he gives Ghanaians a taste of his elegance and quality.

In the next four or five years, we could be seeing Salisu surpassing Van Dijk’s €84.65 million move to Liverpool in 2018. We could see the 21-year-old wear the colors of Real Madrid, Barcelona, or any of the top clubs in the globe.

Salisu will have some pressure to handle but if he keeps his head up, he could exceed all expectations.

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