Nigeria is the home to one of the finest footballers in the continent. the country currently leads the number of footballer that play in the top European Leagues. Nigerian midfielder John Obi Mikel had a successful career at Chelsea winning almost every trophy during his ten-year spell at Stamford Bridge.
Nigerian midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi has been one of the standout players in the English Premier League this season. His impressive performances in the middle of the park have propelled Leicester City to a second-place position. Samuel Chukwueze is tearing defences apart in the La Liga with Villarreal.
The list of Nigerian players who have played in the top European Leagues is quote long. All these Nigerian players who have starred in Europe are products of the Nigerian Premier League. That's why at some point, NPL was rated higher than the Scottish Premier League.
Here's a look at top 5 players in the Nigerian Premier League that have been impressive this season laying down the foundation for future European moves.
#5 Alimi Sikiru (Lobi Stars)
Alimi Sikiru has been instrumental in Lobi Stars title Challenge this season as they sit second in the NPL table 3 points off leaders Plateau United. The 23-year-old forward has scored 4 goals in 10 appearances this season.
He scored his first goal for Lobi Stars in a 4-0 win against Kwara United. The Lagos-born striker then netted the winning goal against Abia Warriors securing maximum points for the Lobi stars. He was also among the scorers when Lobi Stars demolished Heartland FC 3-0 in the round 4 of NPL.
Despite being just 23 years old, the young striker is performing above expectations as he is spearheading the attack for one of the most exciting sides in the Nigerian Premier League this season.
#4 Ibrahim Mustapha (Plateau United)
Ibrahim Mustapha is a key member of Plateau United F.C side that are topping the table as we head into round 11 of Nigerian Premier League. He has started all the 10 matches for the 2017 NPL winners scoring four goals in the process.
The 23-year old attacker is a joy to watch with his all-round play creating chances for his teammates to create havoc at opposition defences. For a team that has scored league-high 16 goals, it's expected that their striker should be leading the Golden Boot race as well but that's not the case with Plateau United F.C as Ibrahim Mustapha their leading striker prefers creating chances.
Mustapha is a predator in the box and will be expected to score the crucial goals that could deliver the second NPL trophy to Plateau United F.C. Despite being young, he has shown maturity and composure in front of goal with his neatly taken goals.
#3 Jimoh Oni (Abia Warriors)
Abia Warriors attacking midfielder, Jimoh Oni has been a revelation this season. He is tormenting opposition defenders with his incredible dribbling skills and his new-found goal-scoring touch this season.
Jimoh Oni's ability to link up the midfield with the attack makes him a big asset for his side.
With 5 goals this season, Jimoh Oni is showing why he is the hottest playmaker in the Nigerian Premier League this season. He is developing into Abia Warriors most reliable goalscorer.
Jimoh Oni incredible performances this season shows why he should be the focal point for Abia Warriors rebuilding plans. His goals have propelled Abia Warriors to a decent 4th place in the NPL table and will be crucial for Abia Warriors this season.
If his teammates could step up the gear a little bit then Jimoh Oni could be the best player in the division at the end of the season.
#2 Victor Mbaoma (Enyimba)
Victor Mbaoma has been in sensational form for last season NPL Champions Enyimba scoring 6 goals in first 10 league matches. The Elephants are fourth in the log and will be hope to mount another serious title challenge this season.
The youngster has been tormenting defenders with his blistering pace, quick dribbling and his neat finishing. He's arguably one of the most consistent players in the league this season as he is currently joint top scorer alongside Sunshine Stars Striker Israel Abia.
His consistency and ruthlessness could win him the Golden Boot by the end of the season. Enyimba will be banking on the quality of their best player Victor Mbaoma to deliver them silverware at the end of the season.
The young centre-forward is destined for greatness and could soon secure a move to top European clubs in the coming years.
#1 Israel Abia (Sunshine Stars)
NPL is one of the most difficult leagues for strikers to score. Last season, the Golden Boot winner managed to score only 10 goals showing how tough the defenders in the division are.
However, in Israel Abia, the Nigerians have a gem in their hands. The Sunshine Stars striker managed to score a quadruple in a 4-2 win over Nasarawa United. His calmness and ice-cool composure make him miles ahead of other strikers in the division.
His 6 goals this season puts him in prime position to win the Golden Boot at the end of the season. The Sunshine Stars striker is destined for greatness and will keep getting better as the season progress.
The centre-forward carries the team's fortune as he is the only player to have scored more than one goal this season. The Akure Gunners will be hoping Isreal Abia continues his goalscoring run to help them climb the table from sixth where they sit now.