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From Aubameyang to Aurier: Top Five African stars set to move in 2017

Borussia Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Borussia Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

KweséESPN profile five African stars who appear primed to switch clubs at the season's end.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: Yet again, Aubameyang has demonstrated why he's the pre-eminent African player of his generation this season, hitting an astonishing 27 goals in 28 Bundesliga matches to fire Borussia Dortmund back into Champions League contention.

With seven goals in nine Champions League outings this term, there are few frontmen in the world game who could outgun the Gabon hitman at the moment, and it's unsurprising that Europe's biggest sides are keen on his services.

Real Madrid, ever on the hunt for a Galactico, are long-term admirers of the forward, and the 27-year-old has made no secret of his desire to move to the Bernabeu.

However, since the recent Chinese takeover of AC Milan, the prospect of Auba making a triumphant return to Serie A and to Lombardy is also on the cards, with La Gazzetta dello Sport reporting that the Central African is on a four-man striking shortlist to head up the Rossoneri's summer revolution.

Riyad Mahrez: It's been a season of struggle for Mahrez, who has wholly failed to live up to the mesmerising heights he achieved last term, where he inspired Leicester City to the unlikeliest of title triumphs and won a clutch of individual honours along the way.

There have been flashes of brilliance this term -- notably following the dismissal of Claudio Ranieri -- but there's a sense that Mahrez has struggled to reach the next level and find an extra gear to evade the attentions of the Premier League's more judicious defenders.

Barcelona are his preferred destination this summer according to Sport, but the Leicester Mercury believe that the Catalan giants are no longer interested in his services.

Liverpool could be the beneficiaries as Barca move onto other targets, according to Sport, with Jurgen Klopp also understood to be an admirer of the 26-year-old.

Keita Balde of Lazio
Keita Balde of Lazio

Keita Balde: Last summer, Balde was linked with a move to Real Madrid and while that switch ultimately didn't happen, a contract impasse between the Senegal forward and his club Lazio appeared to ensure that he'd be gone before too long.

To his credit, Balde knuckled down and has impressed in Serie A this term. He's scored 11 goals this term, including a record-breaking five-minute hat-trick in the capital club's 6-2 demolition of Palermo on Saturday.

With the attacker's contract coming to an end in 2018, and with no renewal in sight, a summer move appears inevitable, although a €30 million asking price appears steep for the troubled attacker.

TalkSPORT have named AC Milan, Chelsea and Manchester United as potential destinations for the 22-year-old.

Serge Aurier: After another fine season for Paris Saint-Germain, it's easy to see why Aurier is again being linked with a move to some of Europe's major clubs.

Perhaps he hasn't quite hit the heights of previous campaigns, but considering the controversy he generated in 2016, his stint away at the Nations Cup with Ivory Coast and the signing of Thomas Meunier, a slight drop-off is understandable.

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Aurier has long been linked to Barcelona, and while Sergio Roberto may have impressed in Sunday's Clasico, the Catalan giants are surely still in need of a long-term replacement for Dani Alves at right-back. Could the Ivorian fit the bill?

Elsewhere, Manchester City, Liverpool and Manchester United are all also monitoring the wideman according to French source Le Parisien.

Serge Aurier
Serge Aurier

Naby Keita: Guinea midfielder Keita has been a key catalyst behind RasenballSport Leipzig's marvellous maiden season in the Bundesliga.

The top flight new boys have secured qualification for the Champions League despite only being promoted from the second tier last term, and 22-year-old Keita has been an influential presence in the heart of Ralph Hasenhuttl's midfield.

Unsurprisingly, his form has prompted significant reported interest from overseas, with Liverpool understood to be considering a £26 million move for the West African [as per the Mirror.]

Manchester City and Arsenal are also understood to be monitoring his progress, while recently, Tottenham Hotspur have also been linked to his services.

With no Champions League experience, he'd certainly be a gamble, but his composure, tenacity and vision -- he's made 15 decisive contributions this term -- make it easy to understand why he's so coveted.

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

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