Top 5 Nigerian players in world football currently
Over the years, Nigeria have developed a reputation of developing some sensational footballers and players past and present have dazzled the world of football with their natural ability and flair. When it comes to Nigerian footballers, it's hard to look past the iconic duo of Jay-Jay Okocha and Nwankwo Kanu, as they etched their names in football folklore for their exploits in the 90s and the early 2000s.
Whilst Okocha made a name for himself at Eintracht Frankfurt and eventually represented Bolton Wanderers in the Premier League, Kanu was part of Arsene Wenger's legendary Arsenal side that won two league titles and the striker also famously scored a 15-minute hat-trick against arch-rivals Chelsea to magnify his status as a Gunners cult hero.
It could be argued that the two-time AFCON winners have struggled to find consistency in recent years but there is a renowned sense of optimism with the current crop of players, as a handful of them have burst onto the scene across Europe's top-five leagues this season and continued to enhance their growing reputations.
On that note, let's look at five of Nigeria's finest players in world football currently.
#5 Ola Aina - Torino
After joining the Chelsea academy aged 12 and making a name for himself as one of the brightest up and coming talents, Ola Aina failed to make the grade at Stamford Bridge, before being loaned out to Hull City. It is with the Tigers that he got regular game time under his belt, as he made 44 appearances in all competitions before Torino came calling.
Aina spent the 2018/19 season on loan with the Italian club, where he finally came of age and delivered the goods consistently. A pacy full-back who is an incredible dribbler of the ball, the 23-year-old combined the best of both world as he bombed up and down the left flank, becoming a reliable performer for his side.
The former Chelsea man is also an indispensable member of the Nigerian national team and will look to establish himself as one of the senior players in the squad, as the Super Eagles look to combine youth and experience to oversee a successful era.
#4 Alex Iwobi - Everton
Alex Iwobi was tipped for big things after coming through the ranks at the Arsenal academy but the midfielder finds himself in Everton currently, after sealing a £28 million switch to the Merseyside club on deadline day. After making his Gunners debut in 2015 aged 19, Iwobi failed to live up to the hype as he struggled with injuries and inconsistencies, but he made close to 150 appearances for the North London club before moving to Everton.
Known for his explosiveness on the ball and his ability to manoeuvre his way past opposition defenders, the Nigerian has time on his side to become a big player for Everton in the coming years. In stark contrast to his club form, where he's struggled to produce the goods consistently, the 23-year-old is an indispensable member of the Nigerian national team and will look to mentor some of the younger players in the squad, as they look to make their presence felt on the international stage.
#3 Victor Osimhen - LOSC Lille
Victor Osimhen has been one of the breakthrough stars of the season so far and the Nigerian striker is amongst the biggest emerging talents across Europe's top-five leagues this season. Joining Lille for a £12 million fee to replace Nicolas Pepe, who sealed a record-breaking move to Arsenal this summer, Osimhen has burst onto the scene this season with 10 goals and 3 assists in all competitions, a sensational return for a striker making his debut in Europe.
Hailed by Frank Lampard as an impressive talent, the young striker is a serial matchwinner and has finally made his presence felt in the grandest stage. After being rejected by the likes of Club Brugge and Zulte Waregem last year as a malarial infection had weakened his body, Lille opted to pay the big bucks for the striker and their risk is paying dividends, as the 20-year-old has delivered the goods for his new side.
#2 Wilfred Ndidi - Leicester City
Wilfred Ndidi has continued to enhance his reputation in recent seasons with a series of top-class performances and the defensive midfielder has once again been one of the standout players for Leicester City this season, Starting in the base of a midfield trio alongside James Maddison and Youri Tielemans, Ndidi has been the lighthouse in the organized chaos for the Foxes and is widely regarded as one of the best players in his position.
The 23-year-old is a tough-tackling defensive midfielder and aside from his defensive astuteness, he has a knack of scoring long-range screamers and his ability to break defensive lines makes him one of the most complete midfielders in the Premier League.
#1 Samuel Chukwueze - Villarreal CF
Samuel Chukwueze has been hailed as the biggest Nigerian talent in world football currently and the winger has burst onto the scene this season, as he's established himself as a mainstay of this Villarreal side. Likened to Arjen Robben, Chuckwueze is blessed with explosive pace and a hammer of a left foot much like the Dutchman and has become a crucial player for the Spanish side, with 3 goals and 2 assists so far this season.
The 20-year-old has been tipped for big things and was reportedly subject to interest from European champions Liverpool this summer. Chukwueze is blessed with outrageous dribbling ability and has multiple other facets to his gameplay, making him one of the most sought-after wingers in world football. Chukwueze was recently named 9th on the list of best U-21 players in 2019, a startling example of his ability and it remains to be seen if he makes a move to one of the biggest clubs in Europe.Published 05 Dec 2019, 18:02 IST