For many, football at its highest levels ceases past the borders of the European and South American continent; this lazy and sadly popular sentiment could not be further from the truth.

Often dubbed the motherland, Africa has been developing top-level footballing talent for as long as a ball has been present in the continent. The 21st century is often said to be Asia's; however, this century is firmly Africa's in a footballing sense.

We have seen the emergence of Morocco, Algeria, and Senegal as real forces on the international scene and African players dominating in the world's best competitions. For all intents and purposes, a single article about the world's second-largest continent would be disrespectful and a wasted opportunity; as such, this piece will focus purely on Africa's most fertile footballing grounds, the north.

This piece will look at the goldmine that is the Maghreb and Egypt, with a specific focus on the latter, as well as Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.

Rangers should jump the queue whilst still possible and pluck the region's best talent; this is their guide to do so.

Achraf Dari, Wydad Casablanca

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Nicknamed the "Moroccan Van Dijk '' by the talented football Writer Daniel Ajuh, Rangers could do much worse than heading to the mythical city of Casablanca and negotiating the arrival of the elegant powerhouse that is Achraf Dari. He is one in a line of several talented Moroccan centre-backs destined to play at the top in Europe, with Roman Saiss and Nayef Aguerd proof of this pipeline.

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The 22-year-old should have no difficulties acclimatising to European football. His frame, strength, and height allow him to compete with even the peskiest of athletic forwards and the tallest of target men. Additionally, Dari mixes the aforementioned physical qualities with impressive agility and balance, which allows him, for the most part, to stay in front of willy wingers. Dari is right-footed and spends the vast majority of his time on the right side of a central defensive pair in a four at the back, although he has seen some minutes on the left side, evidenced by the graphic below. Dari is yet to play in a 3-at-the-back at either national or club level and, as such is untested in such a system but does have all the relevant qualities to succeed in such a scheme.

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As with many modern defenders, Dari is far more of a dog than a cat, preferring a more proactive approach to defend, often coming out of the back four and challenging on-running forwards. This approach is shared by both Balogun and Goldson and is the perfect compliment to the cat-like approach of Helander, who prefers to sit back and react. The graphic below shows Dari's ability on the ball, which shows that he compares favourably to his peers when it comes to the majority of passing metrics and all three movement metrics. Dari's long diagonals are pinpoint accurate and hit with a nice mix of fizz and height, allowing his teammates to take the ball in their stride without having to accelerate or decelerate much.

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Wydad was bombarded with transfer offers for their prized possession this summer, as several Ligue 1 teams were interested. Metz lodged a bid of £500k which proved to be roughly half of what Wydad were willing to sell, reportedly closer to £1m. There are few better bargains in all of world football for that price, and if his trajectory follows what Ajuh predicts, Dari will be playing at the highest level sooner rather than later.

Ahmed Kendouci, ES Setif

North Africa has developed a reputation for cultivating slick flair players over the past decade, whether it be the mercurial Adel Taarabart or the genuinely world-class Riyad Mahrez. ES Setif's Ahmed Kendouci is yet to hit the heights of either of the aforementioned duo, though it does share the same visually appealing play-style and at 22 has time on his side. Kendouci plays all around the midfield but prefers the left-side, whether on the wing or that side of a central midfield pairing, which makes sense given his preferred left-foot and is evidenced in the graphic below. Kendocui repertories of skills mean that he is dangerous in any area of the pitch but has a specific preference and talent for influencing affairs close to goal, with impressive creative and finishing skills and numbers. When playing centrally, the Algerian is adept at receiving the ball in between the lines and forcing defensive switches. However, he is no easier to contain with the ball at his feet as his flair and intelligence constantly force defenders to second-guess themselves. When centrally more so than in any other position, Kendouci can show off the scope of his vision as he sits back and orchestrates Setif's attack, often finishing the chances himself.

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The mezzala is a constant threat from dead balls, whether from a corner, free kick, or penalty. This, on top of his open-play threat, sees him manage an insane attacking output over the past calendar year, which is seen in the graphic below. Only Joe Aribo in the Rangers squad can compete with the output that Kendouci can produce from midfield.

The greatest slight on his game is not even technical; instead, the effort he puts in when out of possession should be increased, a similar predicament that has long plagued Ianis Hagi. The comparison with the Romanian is quite apt, as they are both versatile midfield talents with supreme technique who can decide the outcome of games singlehandedly.

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Like Dari, Kendouci has also attracted interest from France; however, the most recent concrete interest has come from Turkey. Both Antalyaspor and Yeni Malatyaspor lodged late assaults in August to sign the Algerian, though the offers of around £700k were rejected. I would harbour a guess that it would not cost Rangers much more than said bids to secure the services of Kendouci, which could be a shrewd piece of business if new challenges tempt the likes of Joe Aribo or Ianis Hagi

Mohamed Sherif, Al-Ahly

A tap-in merchant is usually a slight on a skilled footballer; however, I doubt there are few more who would revel in this label more than Mohamed Sherif. To put it this way, at the time of writing, of his most recent 8 goals, 7 have been tap-ins, not easy finishes, but open or nearly open net tap-ins. The anatomy of a tap-in is far more than being lucky enough to find yourselves open next to the goal.

Sherif, in all honesty, is a pretty limited forward however excels when it comes to all aspects of positioning and poaching. The forward stands at 1.84m and boasts an athletic, if average, physique; however, he makes up for his physical tools with excellent movement. The Egyptian plays effectively only as a 9 but on occasion can be found on each wing, albeit the left more so than the right.

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The graphic below paints an obvious picture of a forward who scores a lot and doesn't do much more, though it's not like a striker to rely on their goals to cover the blemishes of their game. Sherif is scoring at an insane scale, a rate only matched by the game's elite like Lewandowski and Halaand. Also, he matches his xG of 0.84 with 0.83 non-penalty goals p90, suggesting no finishing deficiencies within his game.

Sherif scoring goals is no surprise when you consider his mammoth Goal Conversion %, shots p90 and shot accuracy which are all in the 90th percentile. Outside of goalscoring, Sherif is decent at setting up teammates for shooting opportunities, is not the best at moving with the ball at his feet, and is not overly active out of possession. That said, he is an effective spearhead for Pisto Mosimane's pressing schemes at Al-Ahly.

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I have confidence in Sherif replicating his exploits in Scotland, albeit not to the wild level he is currently playing at in 2021. Sherif doesn't rely on speed or strength, which often are hallmarks of forwards who struggle to transition to new, more physical leagues; instead, his intelligence will prove a threat regardless of the competition.

The 25-year-old is contracted until 2024, but this has not stopped Galatasaray from sniffing around Cairo regarding his availability. I would make an educated guess that it would take no more than £3m to secure Sherif's services, and for that price, he is most definitely an attractive left-field option.

Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane, Esperance Tunis

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Like Kendouci before, Romdhane is firmly a member of the North African "Baller" society. The similarities continue when you consider the positional versatility of the two, though, Romdhane is firmly a central midfielder and doesn't stray out of the wing like the Algerian. Romdhane, like Dari, has all the physical qualities to play at the top level mixing an impressive physique, with decent pace, and a strong lower body which allows him to receive passes despite opposition pressure, much like John McGinn. He also has long legs, making him even more challenging to beat on the dribble; he effectively uses this natural advantage to disrupt play, much like Joe Aribo. His ability out of possession is a big reason why he remains in the middle of the park and even slightly deeper as a defensive midfielder, as the graphic below would suggest.

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In possession, the comparisons to McGinn and Aribo continue, with the Tunisian even showing a bit of Scott Arfield every so often. Romdhane's credentials for the aforementioned "North African Baller Society" are confirmed immediately once he starts to dribble the ball, which he does with such ease and flair, throwing in the odd stepover to bat his man. This dribbling ability is invaluable for ball progression when coupled with his passing ability, makes him a progressive machine for any side, much like: Joe Aribo.

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The Tunisian's McGinn and Arfield impersonations are at the front when close to goal, where he shows off a plethora of goalscoring methods like McGinn but often goes back to the old faithful late third man run, which Airfield does so well. The graphic below shows the extent to which Rodmhane is involved in offensive affairs, with only Aribo in the Premiership putting in more offensive duels, despite the Tunisian often playing deeper. If there is one critique of his game, Romdhane's consistency at threading the needle can leave a bit to be desired, albeit he still puts up incredible final third creation and finishing numbers.

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Romdhane's ability and potential has been identified by some of France's most prominent clubs, with Lyon and Lille supposedly expressing interest in the past summer window. Rumours would suggest that a few of around £4m would be more than enough to force Esperance to part with their crown jewel. The fee is relatively hefty; however, the 22-year-old has all the relevant qualities to be a smash hit and make his stay in Glasgow brief, leaving for a healthy chunk of profit with trophies by his name.