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Who was Africa's top breakout Premier League star?

Various African players stood out during an engrossing Premier League campaign, but which of the continent's stars surpassed expectations and who overachieved?

In this feature, KweséESPN's Ed Dove reviews the season that was, and picks out three breakout African stars of the season.

Wilfred Ndidi was hardly a household name when he was signed by Leicester City during the January transfer window. Indeed, the 20-year-old only had less than two years of professional experience under his belt -- in the Belgian top flight -- and it was a significant gamble to throw him into the reigning champions' unexpected relegation battle.

However, Leicester's title success was built upon savvy and shrewd recruitment, and while Ndidi -- at £17 million -- was hardly a bargain basement addition, he proved to be another coup for the Foxes.

The youngster immediately offered the kind of midfield presence that Daniel Amartey and Nampalys Mendy had struggled to provide following N'Golo Kante's exit, and while he struggled on his Premier League debut against Chelsea, he thrived thereafter.

Ndidi scored in the FA Cup draw with Derby County and league triumphs over Stoke City and Watford as Craig Shakespeare's side pulled away from the drop, while he was the East Midlanders' outstanding player in a 1-0 win at West Bromwich Albion in late April.

The Nigeria national team look to have a gem on their hands, while the former Genk man has the potential to be Claudio Ranieri's final glistening contribution to his magical spell at the King Power Stadium.

Wilfried Zaha: Even before this season, there were few doubts about Zaha's technical prowess and ability to impress with the ball at his feet. Indeed, Sir Alex Ferguson had seen his talent as a precocious teenager at Crystal Palace and taken him to Manchester United in 2013.

That move ultimately proved to be premature for the Abidjan-born winger, who only managed two league outings during his two-year spell at Old Trafford.

In subsequent seasons, Zaha has shown flashes of excellence, but United will hardly have been ruing their decision to send him back to Palace in 2015.

That might have all changed this season!

After making a combined nine decisive contributions (goals or assists) in his previous 65 outings with the Eagles, Zaha made 16 in his 35 appearances this season -- seven goals and nine assists.

Despite the Londonders' struggles under Alan Pardew and their initial tricky months under Sam Allardyce, Zaha's consistency and invention shone through.

He's proved the doubters wrong, launched an international career with Ivory Coast, and it would be little surprise if the big boys came calling again this summer.

Wilfred Zaha of Crystal Palace disputes a decision of the referee during a Premier League game against Liverpool at Anfield in Liverpool, England on April 23, 2017. (Photo by David Blunsden/Action Plus via Getty Images)
Wilfred Zaha of Crystal Palace disputes a decision of the referee during a Premier League game against Liverpool at Anfield in Liverpool, England on April 23, 2017. (Photo by David Blunsden/Action Plus via Getty Images)

Victor Moses: Having been with Chelsea since 2012, 26-year-old Moses may appear to be a strange pick for a breakout star of the season.

However, no one predicted the significant rise in stature the Nigerian would enjoy this term after not only clinging onto his spot at Stamford Bridge, but actually establishing him as a key man in Antonio Conte's vibrant new side.

The wideman came into this campaign -- it's easy to forget -- on the back of mixed loan spells with Liverpool, Stoke City and West Ham United, but was kept on board by the incoming Italian manager, who clearly saw something that his predecessors missed.

Even more remarkable was that when Moses did break into the Blues' starting XI, it wasn't as a forward or a winger, but as a wing-back, with the West African adapting flawlessly to an unfamiliar role in order to fulfil a role in Conte's 3-4-3 formation.

Few can doubt the former Wigan Athletic man's contribution after he ended the year with 29 starts and became the third Nigerian to win the top flight.

Ed Dove is the Soccer Editor for KweséESPN. Follow him on Twitter @EddyDove.


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