Manchester United Andre Onana with the ball at his feet during a pre-season friendly
Andre Onana won the Coppa Italia and SuperCoppa Italiana as well as reaching the Champions League final in his sole season with Inter Milan

The list of African players to have made a big impact on England’s Premier League is long and illustrious.

Going all the way back to Zimbabwe and Coventry City forward Peter Ndlovu in 1992, the likes of Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, Riyad Mahrez, Mohamed Salah and Yaya Toure have all left their mark.

The 2023-24 Premier League season will be no different, whether it be well-established names, fresh faces or players returning for more.

Before the new campaign, BBC Sport Africa picks out six signings who could make a major impact for their new clubs.

Andre Onana (Cameroon & Manchester United)

  • International caps: 34
  • Fee: $60.25m (£47.2m)
  • Contract length: Five years

Uefa Champions League finalist Onana completed his much-anticipated transfer from Inter Milan to Manchester United in July and has already earned the praise of manager Erik ten Hag following his pre-season debut in Houston.

The 27-year-old will replace the long-serving David de Gea as United’s first-choice keeper and is already acquainted with Ten Hag, having played for him at Ajax.

“To join Manchester United is an incredible honour,” he said. “This is the start of a new journey for me, with new team-mates and new ambitions to fight for.

“Manchester United has a long history of incredible goalkeepers and I will now give everything to create my own legacy in the coming years.”

African football expert Oluwashina Okeleji told BBC Sport Africa that Onana has had quite the journey from Barcelona’s academy to Manchester via the Netherlands and Italy.

“Onana’s more than the stereotypical ball-playing modern-day goalkeeper,” says Okeleji. “He’s become accustomed to success since joining Ajax back in 2016 and brings that winning mentality to Old Trafford.

“He’s shown signs of his leadership qualities by reminding the faltering Harry Maguire that sloppiness is unacceptable during United’s pre-season defeat to Dortmund.

“The world knows all about Onana in European football but the Premier League provides a platform to cement his status as the continent’s finest keeper.”

For his country, Onana featured in Cameroon’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) third-place play-off win on home soil last year against Burkina Faso, even scoring an own goal in the game.

He was named in the Indomitable Lions squad for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, playing in the opening match against Switzerland but being sent home after disciplinary action following a fall-out with head coach Rigobert Song.

Onana retired from international football in December 2022 but has hinted at a possible return.

Nicolas Jackson (Senegal & Chelsea)

Nicolas Jackson playing football for Chelsea against Brighton
Nicolas Jackson was named La Liga player of the month in May

Born in The Gambia, Jackson almost joined Bournemouth for $26m (£20.3m) in January but the deal with Villarreal was not completed due to concerns over a hamstring injury.

He went on to directly contribute to 12 goals in April and May as part of a farewell purple patch at the Spanish club which led to his move to London in June.

The 22-year-old, nicknamed the “Senegalese Neymar”, has impressed Blues boss Mauricio Pochettino in pre-season – but has been warned he needs to improve his physical condition and adapt to a higher tempo in England.

“The Senegalese has got Chelsea fans and social media admins nodding to the classic Outkast tune Ms. Jackson,” says Okeleji.

“His ability to travel with the ball at his feet saw him complete his first full season as a top-flight footballer on a high by scoring 10 goals in his final 11 league appearances.

“Dynamic and flexible, the pacy Teranga Lion is expected to thrive under a manager like Pochettino because he brings different variations to the Chelsea attack.”

Jackson was named in Senegal’s squad for the 2022 World Cup, making his debut in their opening match against the Netherlands.

Ola Aina (Nigeria & Nottingham Forest)

  • International caps: 23
  • Fee: Free
  • Contract length: One year
Ola Aina in action for Torino
Nottingham Forest is Ola Aina’s third Premier League side, having already represented Chelsea and Fulham

London-born Aina spent eight years as part of Chelsea’s academy from 2007, making his Premier League debut in 2016, but a lack of first-team opportunities meant he was loaned out to Hull City and then Torino, becoming a regular for the Italian club after joining them permanently in 2019.

Now 26, he made his Premier League return during a loan spell with Fulham in 2020-21 and joined Forest in July following his release by Torino.

“It’s exciting to be back playing in the Premier League. It’s the best league in the world and I always want to challenge myself,” said Aina, who operates predominantly as a full-back or wing-back.

Okeleji says: “Aina arrived in Italy as a curious youngster keen to establish himself in Serie A but departed as a mature defender with impressive international experience.

“It’s a different situation for him in the Premier League this time, hoping to write a successful story with Forest.”

Aina represented England at youth level before switching to play for Nigeria in 2017.

Benie Traore (Ivory Coast and Sheffield United)

  • International caps: 0
  • Fee: Undisclosed
  • Contract length: Four years
Sheffield United and Ivory Coast player Benie Traore holding a football
Sheffield United newcomer Benie Traore made his Ivory Coast Under-23 debut in March

Leading scorer in Sweden’s top flight last season, 20-year-old Traore signed a new contract with Hacken in September but then joined Sheffield United in July.

“He is a likeable and shy individual with an eye for goal,” says Okeleji. “Those close to the Ivorian were shocked to see the switch to the Premier League happen earlier than anticipated.

“He is a product of the famed Ivorian club ASEC Mimosas and it took him less than three years to announce himself in Sweden.

“He was at home in a calm and understanding environment. United and their fans must have the patience to let him adapt to the physicality of the English game.”

So rapid has his rise been, Traore is yet to make his full international debut and has only one cap for Ivory Coast Under-23s.

Marvelous Nakamba (Zimbabwe & Luton Town)

  • International caps: 23
  • Fee: Undisclosed
  • Contract length: Three years
Marvelous Nakamba celebrates after Luton's win the Championship play-off final
Marvelous Nakamba was part of the Luton Town side that gained promotion to the Premier League after winning the Championship play-off final at Wembley

Nakamba, 29, is not new to the Premier League, having signed for Aston Villa from Club Brugge in 2019, making 58 top-flight appearances for the Villains.

But after initially impressing he suffered a knee injury in December 2021 that disrupted his progress.

The former Vitesse Arnhem and Nancy defensive midfielder was loaned to Luton at the start of 2023, securing promotion by winning the Championship play-offs, in which he scored in the penalty shootout win over Coventry City in the final at Wembley Stadium.

“I’m very excited to be back home at Luton to continue the journey,” said Nakamba after joining the Hatters on a permanent basis in July.

“I was welcomed as part of the family and that pushed me to give everything for this club.”

Okeleji says there were initial fears Nakamba would be forgotten after dropping down a division. “Nakamba’s return to the Premier League has been widely hailed in Zimbabwe,” he added.

“He is adored and admired back home, largely because of his talent and charity work. Nakamba knows many will be glued to their TV sets in his country to catch a glimpse of their warrior strutting his stuff alongside other global names.”

Nakamba made his senior debut for Zimbabwe in 2015.

Issa Kabore (Burkina Faso & Luton Town)

  • International caps: 29
  • Fee: Loan (from Manchester City)
  • Contract length: One year
Issa Kabore playing football
Issa Kabore signed for Manchester City in 2020 but is yet to make a first-team appearance for the reigning champions

Kabore, 22, had high hopes of making his Premier League debut when he signed for Manchester City from KV Mechelen in 2020, but the talented prospect was loaned back to the Belgian club and also had spells in France with Troyes and Marseille before joining Luton on a season-long deal in July.

“Luton provides the defender with a big chance to impress his parent club,” says Okeleji. “Kabore has a platform to experience English football and catch the eye of Pep Guardiola.”

Kabore, who has played at centre-back and full-back, made his debut for Burkina Faso as a teenager in 2019 and was named best young player at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, playing a key role in the Stallions’ run to the semi-finals.