Ghanaian football talent exodus: Financial challenges force top stars to go overseas for opportunities

In a significant blow to Accra Hearts of Oak, enterprising midfielder Salifu Ibrahim has parted ways with the club following stalled negotiations for a contract renewal. 


Hearts' inability to meet Ibrahim's financial demands of a net salary of $2,500 monthly provided the impetus for his departure. Ibrahim is now set to join the exodus of Ghanaian football talents heading to Kosovo in search of greener pastures.

Meanwhile, FC Samartex 1996, the newly crowned Ghana Premier League champions, will begin their preparation for the CAF Champions League and title defence without their star midfielder, Dauda Yussif Seidu. Seidu has signed a two-year deal with Rwandan giants APR FC, reportedly worth $130,000. 

His departure marks a critical moment for Samartex, as Dauda played a pivotal role in their title win, scoring three goals and providing five assists in 28 league matches. His contribution will now bolster APR FC's continental campaign.

The financial challenges faced by Ghanaian clubs have been starkly highlighted by these transfers. Samartex, needing to fortify their squad for both domestic and continental competitions, found themselves compelled to accept the transfer fee for Seidu. 

The $130,000 fee is more than the GHS500,000 the Samreboi club earned for their historic league triumph, illustrating the tough decisions Ghanaian clubs have to make in the face of financial constraints.

This financial disparity underscores a broader trend in African football. Ghanaian sides struggle to match the financial might of clubs from North Africa, South Africa and, increasingly, East Africa. 

The Ghana Premier League has seen a steady drain of talent as top players are lured away, leaving clubs in a perpetual rebuilding phase. 

This exodus was starkly evident last season when Ghanaian champions Medeama SC sold their leading marksman, Jonathan Sowah, to a Libyan side in the middle of their Champions League campaign. The $200,000 offer was too significant to refuse, despite the impact on Medeama's continental ambitions.

Other examples

Tanzanian and Rwandan clubs have recently emerged as prominent destinations for Ghanaian players. 

This season, Rwandan teams like APR FC and Mukura Victory Sport have demonstrated strong ambitions by recruiting top talents from Ghana and other African countries. 

APR FC, supported by state finances, has been active in the transfer market, signing midfielder Richmond Nii Lamptey from Asante Kotoko SC and Bofoakwa Tano captain Saaka Dauda.

Assistant coach of Dreams FC, Winfred Dormon, acknowledged that the decision to let Jalilu move on a free transfer was a goodwill gesture by the club. 

"He has served us well, so we agreed to let him go for free so that he could earn something to support himself and his family," Coach Dormon told Graphic Sports. This departure creates an opportunity for other players to grow in stature and influence within the team.

East African teams, while not paying salaries as high as their North African counterparts, offer Ghanaian players between $5,000 and $10,000 a month, far exceeding the salaries offered by Ghanaian clubs. 

Hearts of Oak's inability to retain Ibrahim highlights the poor bargaining power of Ghanaian clubs, with insiders revealing that less than 10 per cent of players in the league earn more than $1,000 a month.


Two weeks ago, Kotoko offloaded about 18 players, including top marksman Steve Mukwala and midfielder Serge Eric Zeze, who were signed by clubs in Tanzania and Morocco, respectively. Mukwala, Kotoko's top scorer for the last two seasons, joined Tanzanian giants Simba SC on a lucrative deal reportedly worth over $100,000. 

As a free agent, the Uganda international will receive a significant sign-on fee in addition to a monthly salary of $9,000, a substantial increase from his $2,000-a-month salary at Kotoko. 

Zeze's move to Raja Casablanca poses new challenges for Kotoko's coach Prosper Narteh Ogum, who must find a replacement capable of providing the dynamism and scoring opportunities the Ivorian created during his stint with the Porcupine Warriors.

Also leaving for greener pastures is Emmanuel Agyermang of Nations FC, who has joined FK Babrungas in the Lithuanian league for an undisclosed transfer fee. 


While player movements during the transfer window are common and generate revenue for clubs, the rate at which Ghanaian sides lose their top players season after season without suitable replacements robs the clubs of the talent needed for consistency and competitiveness and deprives the league of its star attractions and overall appeal.

For financially strapped Ghanaian clubs, losing top talents each season provides some financial support but poses a long-term threat to the development and growth of the domestic league. 

This trend also weakens the competitiveness of Ghanaian clubs in CAF competitions, where they struggle to advance due to the lack of star quality.

The weak financial situation of Ghanaian clubs and inadequate sponsorship of the league has left the clubs impoverished and unable to pay competitive salaries to attract and maintain their top talents. 


As a result, clubs are often forced to sell their players to survive, as participation fees and prize money paid by the Ghana Football Association (GFA) are minimal and insufficient to sustain the clubs.

The upcoming season will be challenging for these clubs as the Ghana Premier League seeks a new title sponsor and broadcast partner following the end of sponsorship deals with Betpawa and StarTimes. 

This development marks a significant shift after StarTimes held exclusive rights for four years under a $5.25 million agreement signed in 2020. 

With the door now open, the GFA is inviting proposals from StarTimes and other interested broadcasters, including Pay-TV giants DStv and state-owned GTV, to bid for the broadcast rights.


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