Should Arsenal start looking for more African defenders like Toure and Lauren?

We used to get good defenders from Africa; what has happened? by Lagos Gooner

Hello again friends. Hope we enjoyed our game against Bournemouth yesterday? Despite the result we recorded yesterday, one thing is still clear; and that is that we still need a good defender. Hopefully, we can get one before the transfer window closes. However, while we wait to see who the club can sign, I want to talk about great defenders from Africa who have played for Arsenal. My question however is what of if we send scouts to Africa to help us get promising defenders, would it be a bad idea?

Now before I continue, I am not in any way racist by this article, saying defenders from other continents are not good enough, I am only trying to say here that based on some good times we had with some African defenders in the past, and can we try looking towards Africa to get strong, energetic and hard tackling Africans?

Kolo Toure: This Ivorian great, played for Arsenal between 2002 to 2009. He recorded 225 appearances with Arsenal, scoring 9 goals in the process. He was signed from ASEC Mimosas of Ivory Coast. At the time of his signing, he was a hot prospect from Mimosas without people knowing much about him. After 7 years in Arsenal, he had made great an impact that he was been touted as the best defender from Africa to have played for Arsenal. He won one Premiership title and one FA cup title with Arsenal.

Laureano Bisan Etame-Maye (Lauren): Two Premiership titles and two FA cup titles, was not what really defined this Cameroonian international at Arsenal. He was part of the invincibles at Arsenal. He played from Arsenal between 2000 to 2007, raking 159 appearances and 7 goals in the process. He was a master of the right back defence and till today, he is very much a member of the Arsenal’s league of legends. At national level, Lauren won two African cup of nation’s trophy with the Cameroonian national team. He is currently an Arsenal Ambassador.

Alex Song: Alex Song didn’t play defense for Arsenal throughout his Arsenal career but whenever Arsenal needed an emergency defender, the defensive midfielder was always one to run to. With 138 league appearances, 7 goals to his credit, Alex Song was a main stay of the Arsenal team, while he was at Arsenal. He is strong, agile and very alert. His brief romance to Barcelona ended his impact at Arsenal.

These are just a few of the African defenders of the many who have ever played for Arsenal. We still have some good defenders of African origin playing top flight football in Europe and who can do a good job at Arsenal, Koulibally anybody? We are Arsenal and we are proud.

Sylvester Kwentua


  1. What makes someone African(or European/ Asian etc too) I ask myself. Is it merely where you are born? Is it your parentage / heritage. Different people will give different definitions. But all of this seems nonsense to me, since all that matters is whether the player is our standard or not; does he have good character and is he a fighter on the field. All other matters are irrelevant.

    Far too much nonsense is written about where any player comes from. The truth is that great, good, mediocre and plain awful players come from every country the world over. So can we cut the crap in this article and go back to doing what the mainly enlightened folk who make such decisions do, and base the decision to buy or not to buy on the above criteria alone. Yes Sylvester, we are Arsenal and we are proud but some of us are also more naive and simplistic than others, I’d heavily suggest!

    1. Thumbs up for you Mr Jon.

      By the way, the oldest history book says that every human, dead or alive, black, white or mixed, came from just ONE couple. The basic problem tends to be language which that book also explained how and why our ONE language got confused.

  2. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.”
    – Food critic Anton Ego

  3. Any race, as long as he has been playing well in EPL and has good stature to fight against big opponents

    Arsenal should have asked for the availability of John Stones, John Egan and James Tarkowski. Their contracts will end in 2022, so their price tags should be lower now

    Arsenal could get a non-EPL defender, but they should loan the defender first if he is playing in a weaker league

  4. I believe Arsenal have the list of all the quality defenders in all the top and none top Leagues in Europe and beyond who are or could be available for signing. I think Arsenal could have a department that takes care of such specific and general issues that bothers on availability of players for signings. But only God knows which players or defenders who Arsenal will sign during this January transfer window.

    Sylvester, it’s difficult to get the replicate of the top quality defenders of African origin who played for Arsenal in the past that you’ve mentioned. As Gooners, what us should hope and pray for is the Club will get top quality defenders internally developed or signed who can stand the test of time successfully when at Arsenal playing.

  5. Kolo Toure was not a great defender.He was good but not great.When he played with Sol Campbell it was Sol who made him look better than he was. It was the same with William Gallas.
    As soon as Arsenal mugged of Citeh for £16m and he was their main defender he was very soon exposed.
    So good, not great.
    And I notice you didn’t mention Eboue. How bad was he!!!!

    1. Good to be able to totally agree for once Phil. To call Toure a great, because he played in The Invincibles is absurd. Good is a long way short of great. Kos was good; at his very best even sometimes very good. but also nowhere near a great. We have to go back to Sol Campbell for true greatness at CB and since he left, Kos was IMO the best of an, overall,(Vermaelen and Gallas apart) desperate bunch of hopeless duds. I never rated Merts either, as he was so slow and always an accident waiting to happen and that can never make for a tight defence. A WHOLE GENERATION OF GOONERS HAS GROWN UP WHO HAVE NEVER SEEN A TOP CB AT OUR CLUB and for that Wengers misjudgement is mostly culpable, along with Gazidis and Kroenke..

  6. True we used to get good defenders from Africa but then we didn’t do too bad finding good defenders from East London and the home counties either. The advantage being you don’t go without their services during the African Nations Competition.

  7. No.. If the basis of their signing is that they are African then forget it. Ps: I am a Nigerian and I’m tired of this narrative. Sign them if they are good, let race come later

  8. Pull on the red and white shirt, play to the best of your god given talents and it doesn’t matter where you come from – gooners will support you – it’s the shirt that counts.

    By the way, all the players you mentioned were excellent buys lagos, ju st goes to show, some you win and some you lose!!

  9. Trouble is AFCON means you can lose a player at a crucial time of the season for 6 weeks and that’s why Klopp has said he won’t buy any more.

  10. If we find a good Martian or even somebody from Pluto, I say awesome and good scouting!! I really don’t care where people come from, we just need to find the best possible players.

    1. Stewart, does that mean you would be over the moon, and the sun would shine out of MA’s uranus?

      As we are mars behind liverpluto and playing burnley on saturnday, will we be singing a different neptune and could it be that MA will be universally accepted as the star he is?

      Watch this space…….sorry, I just couldn’t resist going where no man has gone before!!!

      1. KEN1945, by JUPITER sir !, you have certainally got me laughing here, well done young man.all we can do now is hope that we are in the EUROPA league final this season . sorry ken, could not resist, lol.

        1. Blast, I missed that one gerry, over the moon that you liked my sense of “humour” though, a star studded career opportunity perhaps?

          1. indeed ken, i can be your agent, only 45% of our pay, i am not even making money on that , lol. doing it for the good of my health.intresting too, i found a moon of one of the planets called EUROPA, lets hope that is an omen.i found the name of a moon, i should say , of course, lol.

      2. Wow Ken ! Didn’t know you had such humour in you! You should be on the stage! The next one leaves for KANSAS IN TEN MINUTES. BE ON IT! Only teasing!

        1. hey watch it jon fox, i have that line patented i will have you know, lol. lovely to be able to get a bit of fun banter in here every now and then.

          1. Gerry, I have been using that line, with minor variations, for well over 40 years. So I claim “patent” but you may freely use my joke without need to pay royalties! For what it’s worth, MANY OF MY JOKES ARE EVEN OLDER. And just as corny!

  11. Point of correction, Kolo Toure was scouted as a striker for his then club side Asec Mimosa of Ivory coast. He didn’t do too well in that position and was converted to a defender by Arsene. Kolo did’nt have the typical physique of an African defender, rather it was his younger brother Yaya, whose height and build was more imposing.

    Perhaps the article was framed wrongly or like Jon said too simplistic in it’s main message.
    However, to counter Jon. It is quite untrue that nationalities do not play a role in a player’s abilities. This is actually attributable to genetic make up as well as environmental influence.
    Take for example Asians have a lot of talents but majority of them are short statured, hence you would hardly find an Asian central defender in any league in Europe.
    South American attackers are usually fleet footed and most of them have a tenacity that is attributable to their struggle to survive on the streets.
    Similarly, West African born midfielders are usually stocky and have immense stamina which is genetic but most have the ability to excel in defensive midfield because the nature of west African street football.
    Spanish and portugese players are notably more technical due to the acess to great football facilities at a young age as well as an overriding culture of learning putting emphasis on the technical aspect of the game.
    So if you wanted the best Strikers in the world you look to South America.
    For the best defensive midfielders in the world, you look to african midfielders or midfielders with African descent.
    If you wanted the most technical players, you’d look towards spanish and portugese midfielders.
    Occasionally, the lines blur and world class players emerge from atypical parts of the footballing world. Other times world class players are seemingly synthesized from the football academies.
    Hence scouts are not sent to Africa looking for technically gifted midfielders nor are scouts sent to Asia in search of well built central defenders.
    It is not racism to acknowledge genetic and environmental factors that led to a particular choice of players from a distinct region. It’s called targeted scouting.

    1. Abel, I do not see how what you outline about broad racial physical characteristics or stereotypes in any way counters my statement that good players together with poor players and all abilities in between, come from all countries. I NEVER SAID NOR IMPIED THAT ASIANS ARE GENERALLY TALL OR THAT THEY MAKE THE BEST CB’S THEREFORE. I ALSO NEVER SAID THEY ARE GENERALLY SHORT, THOUGH THAT IS TRUE.

      I made a completely separate point that you cannot and have not argued against. THEREFORE WHAT YOU ARGUE IN NO WAYS “COUNTERS” MY TRUE COMMENT. You are clearly an intelligent person, so I AM SURPRISED THAT YOU CONFUSE TWO ENTIRELY SEPARATE ARGUMENTS. In fact, I much agree with most of what you wrote , though not all.

  12. JON FOX, sir, i am thankful to you for your great joke, it is an evergreen , and i always love to use it . but `now that i have your permission it makes it even better, lol.we should have more comments like those on here tonight. brings a bit of sanity to thee page , i feel.

    1. Agreed!!!We sometimes get so wrapped up in personal feelings and differences, it sometimes feels as if we have nothing in common on this site…and yet we all follow the greatest club in the world, The Arsenal.

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