With the 2020-21 season having already kicked off in some leagues across Europe, ’ SULAIMAN ALAO and OLUYEMI OGUNSEYIN ponder on seven Nigerian footballers – Super Eagles players, who should prove some points with resurgent form in the new campaign…
Alex IWOBI (Everton, England)
Nigerian forward, Alex Iwobi has a tough battle on his hands to retain his status as an Everton player even as the 2020/21 Premier League season started on Saturday, September 12
This particularly is the case after Everton manager, Carlo Ancelotti brought in James Rodriguez and Abdoulaye Doucoure who will both give Iwobi stiff competition at Goodison Park.
Iwobi recorded his worst season ever in the Premier League after ending the last campaign with just a goal in 25 appearances for Everton while his goal drought spanned 23 matches.
He was not listed for Everton’s opening game of the season against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, having made 125 EPL appearances overall, 100 for ex-club, Arsenal, bagging 11 goals and 16assists. The same fate befelled him when The Toffees clashed withe Salford City in the Sevond Round of the Carabao Cup.
The breakdown shows that the Super Eagles attacker scored two EPL goals in 13 games in his debut season in 2015/16, thrice in 26 outings in both the 2016/17 and 2017/18 terms.
During the 2018/19 EPL campaign, Iwobi found the back of the net on another three occasions in 35 appearances for Arsenal before leaving the North London outfit for Everton.
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He joined Everton for £27.36m last summer but struggled to have much impact in his first season, having contributed just two goals and an assist in 28 games across all competitions.
Admittedly, he couldn’t find his best position for the Toffees but for a transfer fee that may rise to £34m, he should have done more. At 24, he still has time to turn things around.
Henry ONYEKURU (Monaco, France)
Nigerian forward, Henry Onyekuru still has enough time and an ample opportunity to prove a point or two during the 2020-21 season which has, however, kicked off already for him in France.
With the Ligue 1 having already gone three weeks old, Onyekuru has not particularly justified that he deservesa starting shirt at Monaco under the tutelage of Niko Kovac who recenty became manager.
Onyekuru has not covered himself in glory at all in the opening two matches of the new French top-flight campaign but he can still redeem himself with 36 more games to be played this ter.
He actually played the first league game of the season which saw Monaco play out a 2-2 draw with Reims, coming off for Sofiane Diop in the 46th minute after a totally disjointed performance.
The Super Eagles winger was withdrawn for Jean Eudes Aholou in the 59th minute as Monaco beat Metz 1-0 in their second Ligue 1 match but had an assist in last Sunday’s 2-1 win over Nantes.
Meanwhile, the attacker did not particularly have a season to be proud of as he was on the roster of two club-sides, Monaco and Galatasaray of Turkey during the just concluded campaign.
He played 12 games in all competitions for Galatasaray before making a move from Istanbul back to Monaco to re-join the Principality side on the request of now sacked boss, Robert Moreno.
Last season, though, for both Monaco and Galatasaray, the 23-year-old had a tally of an abysmal number of one goal and three assists in 16 appearances across all competitions.
Oghenekaro ETEBO (Galatasaray, Turkey)
Super Eagles combative midfielder, Oghenekaro Etebo will be looking to rekindle his career in an European toptlight following his loan move to Turkish Super Lig side, Galatasaray.
Etebo had struggled in the lower rungs of English football starring for Championship side, Stoke City in the past two seasons spiced by a loan stint at Spanish Laliga side, Getafe towards the end of last season.
The 24-year old’s time at Stoke has been fraught with injuries and poor form bu he now stand the chance to fulfill his potential in the Turkish top flight.
A solid outing in Turkey will put Etebo in good stead to reclaim his first team place in the Super Eagles which is currently manned by Rangers of Scotland star, Joe Aribo who is currently the first choice.
Etebo did not make the match-day squad as Galatasaray beat Gaziantep 3-1 in their Turkish Super Lig opener at the Ali Sami Yen Spor Kompleksi Turk Telekom Stadyumu last weekend.
Tyronne EBUEHI (Twente, Netherlands)
N igerian international, Tyronne Ebuehi has stated that he decided to join Twente Enschede ahead of the 2020/21 Dutch Eredivisie season so as to prove himself in the game.
Ebuehi on August 21 made a temporary exit from Benfica of Portugal where he found playing time very hard to come by to Twente of the Netherlands on a one-year loan deal.
The Enschede club even have an option to buy the defender on a permanent deal once he finishes his loan adventure come the conclusion of the campaign in the summer of 2021.
Ebuehi said during his presentation to the public in Enschede last month: “It feels great to be here at FC Twente. I want to prove myself here but of course also help the club.”
During his time at ADO Den Haag, he showed he was a talented player and played for Nigeria at the 2018 World Cup. In his first year with Benfica, Tyronne had a difficult season.
That was, however, due to an injury but last year he made some appearances for Benfica B. He is in top shape and can hopefülly fully align with Twente’s selection pretty soon.
Ebuehi made his competitive debut for Twente in their 2020/21 Eredivisie season opener against Fortuna Sittard, a match which his new club-side won 2-0 last Saturday.
Kenneth OMERUO (Leganes, Spain)
The Super Eagles centre- back, Kenneth Omeruo will be playing his club football in the second tier of Spanish football this season having got relegated with Leganes from the LaLiga last season.
And having lost his starting place in the Eagles central defence to Semi Ajayi in recent betway times, the 26-year old indeed has his work cut out and will need to show super form to reclaim his shirt in the star-studded Eagles line-up.
Injury saw Omeruo featured in 23 games for Leganes last season but the African Cup of Nations winner with Nigeria at the 2013 edition in South Africa could yet return to at European topflight with a number of clubs showing interest in the experienced defender.
Spanish LaLiga side, Levante currently has the former Chelsea defender on their transfer wish-list towards boosting their defence-line in the new season.
Omeruo was not in the match-day squad as Leganes beat ten-man Las Palmas 1-0 in Saturday’s La Liga SmartBank season’s opener at the Estadio Municipal de Butarque.
Samuel KALU (Bordeaux, France)
Bordeaux of France skillful winger, Samuel Kalu will need to produce solid performance this season to make a strong statement of his worth at club and national level.
Despite his undeniable talent, Kalu scored an average rating managing just one goal in 20 Ligue 1 appearances for Bordeaux last season, while compatriot, Josh Maja appears set to overshadow him both at the club and in Eagles,
The 23-year old who is into this third of his five year deal with Bordeaux needs more consistent and solid performances at club level to stake claim to a regular starting shirt in the Eagles.
Kalu’s commitment was called into question last season with former manager, Paulo Sousa unhappy with the Nigerian’s attitude. And under new coach, Jean-Louis Gasset, Kalu has played just 27 minutes as substitute in two games this season.
Kalu was on parade for Bordeaux which drew 0-0 with Lyon in last week Friday’s Ligue 1 match that was played at the Matmut Atlantique. He made the starting line-up but was taken off for Yacine Adli in the 61st minute.
Isaac SUCCESS (Watford, England)
The fringe Super Eagles forward will be hoping his name ‘Success’ will finally prove true in his club and full international career in the new season.
Success who won the FIFA U-17 World Cup with Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets at the 2013 tournament held in the United Arab Emirates, endured a disappointing outing with Watford being relegated from the English Premier League last season.
It was Success’s worst season ever with the former Granada forward managing just 67 minutes of Premier League action in five substitute appearances for the relegated Hormets last season.
The 24-year old power-playing striker is poised to move to another club where he will get enough playing time to relaunch his flailing career in Europe as well as in the national team.
Success was not listed when Watford marked their first game back in the Championship with a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Middlesbrough in the opening fixture of the 2020/21 league season on Friday.
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