With the 2015/16 season coming to an end next month, Completesportsnigeria.com’s JOHNNY EDWARD picks five young Nigerian players who have blossomed for their respective clubs in Europe this season…
1. ISAAC SUCCESS (Granada)
Isaac Success is already a regular in his Spanish La Liga club Granada and has made such an impression for the club over three years.
The 20-year-old has showed glimpses of talent in the Granada first team this season, scoring six goals playing as a winger in his third season at the club.
Watford are monitoring his progress and could make a move to sign him in the summer but it remains to be seen if the Hornets will activate his £10m buy-out clause.
He has been capped at U-17 and the U-20 levels for Nigeria and is expected to break into the Olympic team and the senior side sooner rather than later.
Goals scored: 6
2. KELECHI IHEANACHO (Manchester City)
On Saturday 23rd April, Kelechi Iheanacho scored his tenth and 11th goals of his first season in professional football against Stoke City.
Iheanacho has taken his chances when they have been offered to him. Little wonder why he replaced recuperating Samir Nasri in the Manchester City’s Champions League squad.
The Nigerian international joined City in 2014 at 17 and made his first-team debut as an 18-year-old in August against Watford last year among a team of expensively assembled superstars at the Ethiad.
The 19-year-old scored a hat-trick in his second FA Cup start for City in their 4-0 rout of Aston Villa and made a huge career leap on Tuesday when he came on for the injured David Silva in the semi-final of the Champions League against the mighty Real Madrid.
His performance for City has justified Manuel Pellegrini’s decision to keep faith in him when the duo of Edin Dzeko and Stefan Jovetic departed at the beginning of the season.
Goals scored: 11
3. ALEX IWOBI (Arsenal)
Alex Iwobi has been instrumental in Arsenal’s top three push this season and his form for the Gunners has practically made the right-hand flank in the Gunners starting line-up his own which has put the future of Theo Walcot and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s at the Emirates in doubt.
After being given a rare start in the UEFA Champions League against Barcelona at Camp Nou, he scored two goals and added two assists in three games.
The fast rising star’s performances have also seen him being capped twice at competitive international level by Nigeria.
“An intelligent boy who loves football and is full of confidence” is how Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger describes Iwobi.
Goals scored: 2
4. SADIQ UMAR (Roma)
This 19-year-old Nigerian youngster Sadiq Umar may have not yet broken out of Roma’s Primavera system yet but the striker has already made a big impression on his loan spell from Spezia.
The Nigerian youngster has scored twice in six substitute appearances in the Serie A. His first goal for the Giallorossi was in his first league start against Genoa which Roma won 2-0 in December last year.
On the pitch, Umar is known for impressive speed and a direct style, little wonder the lanky forward has attracted interest from English Premier League clubs.
He has also scored 19 goals for Roma in the Primavera this season.
Goals scored: 2
5. CHIDOZIE AWAZIEM (FC Porto)
Chidozie Awaziem is the only defender to appear on the list and one just as well-known for his rapid rise to stardom as his performances for FC Porto this season has been superb.
Spotted from El-Kanemi Warriors last season, Portugues giants Porto took a punt on bringing the defender to Europe.
Now a regular starter at the Stadio Dragao, the 19-year-old has much room for improvement but has incredible potential and the physicality to have a strong career. He has made nine appearances this season, scoring once in Porto’s 2-0 win over Gil Vicente in the Taça da Liga competition.
Name: Chidozie Awaziem
Club: FC Porto
Goals scored: 1