Nigeria has long been known for producing top international soccer players. The African nation has previously gifted us legends such as Stephen Keshi, Nwankwo Kanu, Sunday Oliseh and Patrick Olesegun Odegbami. In 2018, Al-Nassr paid £14.85m to Leicester City for Nigerian-born Ahmed Musa, and Oghenekaro Peter Etebo was bought by Stoke City for £6.35m. However, the summer 2020 transfer window may see the UK and Europe’s top clubs paying transfer fees for Nigerian players that make those amounts seem like small change.
The AFCON bronze medalist was listed as one of 50 youngsters to watch in world football by UEFA’s official website last summer. He won the Young Player of the Year award from the Nigerian Football Federation in 2017/18 and is currently at Villarreal where he’s played in 19 of their 23 league games this season. His goal-scoring ability has certainly been noted by those who enjoy sports betting online.
The talented young winger is already a key player with the Spanish club, and he is a regular on the Nigerian national team. He’s also being eyed up by a number of Premier League clubs, including Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool. Leading the chase is Arsenal, who are said to deeply regret not signing Chukwueze in 2017, when they could’ve had him for £4m. Now his asking price from Villarreal may be as much as £60m, which the Gunners may well be willing to pay. Chukwueze was linked to Liverpool in a potential £30m deal back in January that never went through. The Reds look likely to try again in the summer.
Manchester United is said to be making the 21-year-old striker a priority signing this summer, but they’re not the only ones interested. Osimhen is currently at Lille, having joined from Belgian club Charleroi last summer for £10.8m. He’s tied to the French Ligue 1 club until July 2024 but is said to be looking to leave at the end of this season.
AC Milan is also after Osimhen’s signature, and has a good relationship with Lille, having bought Rafael Leao from them for 23m euros last summer. The asking price this time may be over 80m euros (£72m). The player’s official market value is £27m, over double what it was last year. Lille is known for spotting and developing young talent, from Eden Hazard to Nicolas Pépé, and the attacker has only grown in stature during his short time with the club, scoring 18 goals in 38 matches before the season was suspended.
Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have both been told by Lille that it would cost them £94m to get their hands on Osimhen, which would make him the most expensive departure from the club to date. Chelsea and Real Madrid have also shown interest.
Sheffield United is among the UK clubs said to be interested in the 22-year-old Club Brugge striker. Following an outstanding season in the Champio’s League and the Europa League, going up against the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United, Dennis now has an official market value of £15.3m. He’s considered the most expensive player in Belgium and has been capped in his homeland by both the Super Eagles and the Nigeria Under-23 squad.
Not surprisingly, Club Brugge wants to hang on to the boy wonder, and recently extended his contract. However, it’s believed financial difficulties linked to the Covid-19 crisis may force them to sell. Dennis was linked to a big money move to Arsenal in the past, and Newcastle United are said to have put in a bid in January. Southampton, Everton, Crystal Palace, Watford and Leicester are all said to be keen as well, and it’s been suggested he could go for up to £25m.
Rated as Nigeria’s #1 player and #132 worldwide, Ndidi is said to have a market value of £40.5m. The defensive midfielder joined Leicester City in January 2017 for £15.84m but has recently been linked with a move to Arsenal. Barcelona are also said to be interested in the 23-year-old, who also plays for the Nigerian national team. However, Ndidi has insisted he intends to stay at Leicester, where he’s under contract till the end of the 2024 season.
Ndidi struggled with injury last season, but still made 29 appearances and scored two goals. He has youth on his side and, if he does decide it’s time to move on, there’ll certainly be plenty of clubs willing to dig out their check books.
With UK and European football currently in a state of suspension, it remains to be seen who the top clubs will spend their money on. However, these top Nigerian players are certainly ones to watch when the market re-opens.
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