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  Saturday, 10 August, 2002, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
England's Africans
El Hadji Diouf
Diouf faces breaking the Owen-Heskey partnership
17 of the English Premiership's 20 clubs have at least one African on their books.

Here BBC Sport Online profiles some of the most exciting players in the world's most exciting league:

El Hadji Diouf: The 11m signing by Liverpool of Senegal's quick striker might just be the final piece of blue sky in the great Anfield jigsaw.

After Gerard Houllier decided he did not want to keep Nicholas Anelka, he looked for new back-up for Owen and Heskey - and swiftly sneaked Diouf before the World Cup proved what a talent he was.

Almost a combination of the two England frontmen, Diouf has Owen's pace and trickery and Heskey's ability to hold up play and bring others into the attack.

But linesmen at Anfield had better start building up their right arm stamina, as Diouf collects offside flags more often than some people breathe.


Jay Jay Okocha: Bolton Wanderers proved how ambitious they really are by adding to the signature of Youri Djorkaeff with that of Nigeria's star playmaker.

Okocha did not cost Bolton a penny in transfer fees - but his wage demands were reputed to be so stratospheric that they could only be seen by a telescope.

But his new boss Sam Allardyce proved he can get the best out of quality when he persuaded Djorkaeff and Germany international Freddi Bobic to join the club's fight against relegation at the end of last season.

Their talent kept the club up - and with Okocha now also part of the set-up at the Reebok Stadium, the Okocha deal may be only the first of many surprises from Bolton this season.


Lauren: Arsenal's Cameroonian was one of the most improved players in the Premiership last season.

Arsenal's 12-game unbeaten run that carried them to the title coincided with Arsene Wenger's decision to switch Lauren from midfield to right-back.

The Gunners went on to concede only one goal between then and the victory over Manchester United that secured them the title.

Such exceptional form again this season could see Arsenal finally making a sustained impact on the European Champions League, where last time defensive frailties cost them dear.


Lucas Radebe:

South Africa's Lucas Radebe enjoyed a renaissance at the World Cup after finally recovering from a nightmare 10 months out with injury.

And the biggest move in the Premiership over the summer - the transfer of Rio Ferdinand from Leeds United to Manchester United - could turn out to be the best possible news for him.

Leeds now have a gaping hole in their defence and it is the perfect chance for Radebe to re-establish himself without having to fight too hard to get back in the side.

However, Radebe has a new manager in Terry Vanables, who is already rumoured to be interested in Aston Villa's Turkish defender Alpay, and cannot yet take anything for granted.


Moustapha Hadji: Aston Villa's Moroccan midfielder did not have a great first season for the former European Champions following his move from Coventry City.

The former African Player of the Year was hit by a number of niggling injuries, and the place he established under John Gregory - wide on the left - was taken under Graham Taylor by young German Thomas Hitzlsperger.

However, Hadji is adaptable to a number of positions and Villa are currently in the midst of a midfield crisis, which might just be the opportunity he needs.


New seasons kick off
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