The 2019 AFCON ended with a golden bronze for Nigeria, it also was the end of National team football for some players in the Green and White jersey.
Some of the key players who have confirmed their retirement from national team football include, influential midfielder John Mikel Obi and striker Odion Ighalo.
We might have seen the last of the likes of John Ogu and Daniel Akpeyi, both of whom are on the wrong side of 30 and have little or nothing to offer the team again.
Expectedly, the aforementioned players were not on the list for Nigeria’s friendly against Ukraine, the team’s first game since the 1-0 victory against Tunisia in the third place match of the African Cup of Nations in Egypt.
However, this opened space for new players in almost all the positions on the pitch and indeed Coach Gernort Rhor called up fresh faces into the team including Teenage goalkeeper, Maduka Okoye, Rangers Joe Aribo and many other.
In this write up we X-RAY those who have the potentials to become the next big things in Nigerian football.
POSITION: Center Forward
CLUB: LOSC Lille
Osimhen broke into prominence at the 2015 FIFA U17 World Cup in Chile after finishing as the tournament top scorer with 10 goals, a feat which was enough to give Nigeria it’s fifth U17 World Cup trophy.
It wasn’t the number of goals he scored that caught the eye but rather the manner with which he got the goals, his poaching skills and the strength with which he troubled defenders and quickly he got likened to former Chelsea and Ivory Coast striker Didier Drogba.
His club career didn’t start on a smooth note with Wolfsburg in Germany but managed to get his first call up into the National team in 2016. Injuries scuttled his chances at first team football and was farmed out on loan severally at Wolfsburg before being released.
Amidst failed trials at Belgian clubsides, Osimhen finally settled at Charleroi before is 19 goals on the 2018/2019 season got him a move to French Ligue 1 side where so far in 5 games has scored five goals. For the national he has only made 6 appearances and 1goal.
Nevertheless, if his performance against Ukraine is anything to go by, his second start for the Super Eagles, then Nigeria has a worthy replacement for Odion Ighalo, with his aerial skills, strength, energy and speed it is hard to see other players like Stephen Odey, Paul Onuachu, Taiwo Awoniyi amongst others to snatch the striking spot.
They may have to be contented with bit part roles for as long as possible.
POSITION: Wing Forward
Another talent from the 2015 FIFA U17 World Cup triumph, Chukwueze just like his colleagues, Victor Osimhen and Kelechi Nwakali were not short of suitors after the competition with Arsenal being one of them although a move couldn’t materialise.
Chukwueze moved to Villarreal in Spain instead and ever since, he has become a revelation, breaking into the squad last season to become ever present in the starting eleven.
His transition into the national team was not as straightforward as Osimhen’s and he was a subject of tussle for Paul Aigbogun, coach of the U20 to the 2019 U20 World Cup in Poland and Gernot Rhor coach of the Super Eagles for the 2019 AFCON in Egypt.
Subsequently, his importance to the Spanish club made the club give the NFF the opportunity of taking him to either of the tournaments and not both. He later joined the Super Eagles for the AFCON where he got a bronze medal after scoring a goal in two appearances at the tournament
Meanwhile, before then his abilities were not hidden and has been touted as one of the best youngsters in the La Liga alongside Real Madrid’s Vinicius Jr. His impressive showings against Real Madrid and Barcelona made Nigerian fans wax lyrical about his abilities.
His dribbling skills, speed and first touch are one of his biggest strength (ask Lenglet) although his finishing skills leaves alot to be desired, this he can still improve on as he gets more experienced.
Although, the Super Eagles wings are strong and well loaded at this time, Chukwueze is gradually moving closer to becoming a regular on the starting 11 of the national team.
If his partnership with Samuel Kalu and Victor Osimhen in the friendly against Ukraine was a joy to watch and can only get better as games go by. All in all this means the likes of Moses Simon, Ahmed Musa, Henry Onyekuru will have to do better to get game time on the pitch.
POSITION: Center Midfield
CLUB: Glasgow Rangers
Two years ago not many would know who Joe Aribo is, but his exploits in Scotland with Steven Gerard’s Rangers would go on to spark interests from the English FA, Scottish FA and the NFF.
Born to Nigerian parents in England, Aribo started professional football at Staines Town before moving to Charlton where his performances were enough to convince Rangers to sign him up.
Aribo who has scored four times this season for Rangers followed up with the opening goal in an interesting 2-2 draw between Nigeria and Ukraine on the 4th minute mark.
His display has made many Nigerian fans tout him to replace Mikel in the national team with his ability to give an attacking pass from a defensive position, strength on the ball, workrate, power and goal scoring.
Though, still eligible to play for England, it will be fool-hardy for the NFF to let him slip back into the hands of the Three Lions.
Nevertheless, he still has to contend with the likes of Ndidi, Etebo and Iwobi in the midfield
POSITION: Attacking Midfield
Well being a nephew to one of Nigeria’s greatest footballer is enough for fans to anticipate and expect a whole lot from an individual.
While Alex Iwobi has neither disappointed nor shown half of his uncle’s exploits in the Green & White Jersey but he is definitely on course to having a successful career for the Super Eagles.
He won the hearts of Nigerian fans after choosing Nigeria over the three Lions in 2016, then his goal that sealed the World Cup spot for Nigeria against Zambia in Uyo two years ago endeared him to fans the more.
While this is not about him being related to Jay Jay Okocha, Alex Iwobi’s potentials was enough to convince Everton pay a sum in the region of 40 Million pounds to Arsenal over the course of the summer transfer window to bring him to Merseyside.
Although, he was played on the wings most of the time at Arsenal his original position is in the attacking midfield role where he can use his flair and eye for a defense splitting to create an attack.
He is seen as the best replacement for Jay Jay Okocha in the Super Eagles midfield position but his inconsistency has left a lot to desire. Nevertheless, many believe he will grow into the the attacking midfield position with time and at just 23 years of age, time is still in abundance, on his side.
CLUB: Depotivo La Coruna
Vincent Enyeama’s messy retirement from the Super Eagles didn’t give enough time to prepare for his replacement, for a moment Carl Ikeme was seen as the Messiah after stepping into the shoes to become Nigeria’s number one goalkeeper.
However, the 33-year old was diagnosed with acute leukaemia in 2017 and as such put an end to his career, since then the Super Eagles have had three goalkeepers rotate the position without a clear conviction on who was the first choice.
First it was Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Daniel Akpeyi, however after making his debut in Spanish La Liga in October 2017 for Deportivo La Coruna, keeping a clean sheet which earned him an invite to the Super Eagles.
After impressive showings especially in a friendly win over Argentina, he became the team’s first choice at the World Cup although a dip in form and rotation from Gernot Rhor saw him play once at the AFCON this year.
However, with Daniel Akpeyi out of the National team, Uzoho who was a back up to Dele Alampasu at the 2013 FIFA U17 World Cup in UAE is now favorite ahead of Ikechukwu Ezenwa for the number 1 Jersey.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere
The English Premier League has welcomed some of the best players in the history of football. Players from different continents have made a huge impact on the league with impressive performances. There are others who failed to impress and can be termed as flops.
The League is quite unique from other European leagues. It is more competitive, fierce, physically challenging in nature. Needless to say, a player who isn’t mentally and physically geared up for this will stumble under the pressure.
Established stars can fall by the wayside with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in the EPL. Impressively, some of these players put in impressive performances when they moved to other leagues.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big In Other Leagues
Following the impending sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham bought several players, one of the players they bought was Paulinho.
Paulinho was signed from Corinthians in Brazil where he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, Brasileirao, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
They defeated Chelsea in the latter to lift the trophy. Importantly, he had just won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil and was voted as the third-best player at the tournament.
He joined Tottenham as the club’s record signing in 2013, so a lot was expected of him. However, his performance was not as impressive as the club had envisaged. He was later sold to Guangzhou Evergrande in China at a loss.
The Brazilian’s transfer to the Chinese league resulted in a change of fortunes, as helped the club claim the Chinese league and the AFC Champions League title in his first season.
In the second, he was voted into the Chinese League team of the year in recognition of his performance. Also, he won the league, FA Cup, and Super Cup.
Although critics downplayed his performance, citing the standard of the Chinese league compared to the English league, Paulinho impressed in Spain too following a €40 million move to Barcelona.
Paulinho helped the club claim the league and the Copa del Rey trophy. His performance in his only season with Barcelona impressed Ronaldinho who said: “He really stood out.”
- Iago Aspas
Most Premier League fan remembers Aspas only as a Liverpool flop with the number 9 jersey. Aspas moved from boyhood club Celta Vigo to Liverpool for a deal estimated to be around £7.7 m, with Liverpool hoping to have unearthed a gem. However, that gem turns dregs, failing to score in any of his 14 league appearances.
After just one season, Liverpool decided that they have seen enough so they sent him on a season-long loan to Sevilla with an obligation to buy. In his season-long loan at the club, he was the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey alongside Neymar with 7 goals and won the UEFA Europa League.
At the end of his season-long loan at Sevilla, the club signed him from Liverpool but sold him to Celta Vigo in the same transfer window. In every of his first 5 seasons at Celta Vigo, he scored in double digits.
In fact, in three of the 5 seasons, he won the Zarra Trophy awarded to the Spanish player with the most league goals in a season. As of December 2020, Aspas had won La Liga player of the month four times.
- Diego Forlan
Perhaps, the most notable and interesting English Premier League flop who became a star in another League. He was not just impressive in another league; he was extraordinary with his National team Uruguay.
Sir Alex Ferguson signed Forlan in 2001 following the attacker’s impressive form at Independiente in Argentina. In his first season in England, Forlan made 18 appearances but failed to score a single goal. The two seasons after were not impressive either, hence his transfer to Villarreal.
Impressively, Forlan scored 25 league goals in his first season with Villarreal and won the league’s top scorers award (2004/05). Also, he was awarded the European Golden Shoe award alongside Thierry Henry the same year. He left the club two seasons later for Atletico with 59 goals scored in 128 matches.
In his second season with Atletico Madrid (2008/09), Forlan beat Samuel Eto’o to the Spanish league’s top scorer’s award. He scored 32 league goals in 33 league appearances that season which earned him the Pichichi trophy. Again, he won the European Golden Shoe but this time it was not shared with anyone.
The next season (2009/10), Forlan played a key role as Atletico won the Europa League. He scored six times in the tournament, including two in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the final. He was voted as the man of the match in the final.
With his national team, he was just as impressive; he scored the most goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa.
Furthermore, he was voted into the FIFA World Cup dream team and won the Golden Ball and goal of the tournament title. By the time he retired, he was Uruguay’s highest goal scorer in history, a record which has since been broken by Luis Suarez.
Forlan eventually became so good that some Football fans think he is the caliber of player that could have won the Ballon d’Or.
There are several reasons why players struggle when they change clubs, especially to other countries. Culture, language, teammates, family are some factors that can affect their performances.
These 3 cases show that a player may fail to perform in one league but go on to become a star in another league.
Top 10 Football Dribblers Of All Time
The beautiful game of football is arguably the only sport that entertains its fans with the opportunity to witness a genuine instance of sheer genius with a series of beautiful nutmegs. The display of skills, footwork, eye-catching dribbles by different players makes the game more entertaining.
A lot of players around the world can dribble, go past a defender with a single flick and pace. However, good dribblers can be considered as one of the most important key players of a team, as they can unlock any kind of defense.
There are tons of Football dribblers, but only the best have made it onto the CheapGoals list.
10. Roberto Rivelino
Rivelino’s magic with the ball was unbelievable, doing things nobody ever has or will do on a football pitch, and also had a quality of certainty about himself when he was on the ball.
He would not only wind past his opponents but also mortify them and smash defenders’ confidence. Sudden speeding up, various body bluffs would see him outfox defenders on numerous occasions, as some would say Garrincha made the ball talk to his feet.
Other than being authoritatively one of the best footballers to ever graced the beautiful game and lived with three World Cup medals, this iconic Brazilian player was incredible at dribbling. Being able to control the ball in front of defenders and going past them with ease and confidence is something an aspiring footballer would dream of.
8. George Best
Undoubtedly one of England’s greatest players, having scored 137 goals in 361 appearances for Manchester United in a career that spread over more than a decade for the Red Devils. He had the confidence to make use of the ball within and outside of his boot so well that he could cut around players quickly and easily.
De Lima is known for dribbling past defenders and after that going ahead to score a goal. only a few players have aced the popular ‘step over’ dribble as Ronaldo always proved to be a match-winner time over time with his solo dribbles.
6. Johan Cruyff
One of Cruyff’s best abilities was that he had the ability to recognize any weakness and shortcoming in a defender. Like De-lima, he had a move named after him called “The Cruyff Turn”. It would appear as though he was passing the ball to a teammate but instead to kick the ball, he would turn 90 degrees and drag the ball within his foot behind his back leg. This sudden 90-degree move always left the opponent over to the cleaners.
Talking about football dribblers, Garrincha compared to Pele was generally viewed as the best dribbler ever. His extraordinary speed combined with his stunning ball control always leaves defenders powerless, and unfit to deal with his mesmerizing dribbles. At just 5ft 6inches Garrincha’s low center of gravity helped him weave around opponents effortlessly.
4. Diego Maradona
Maradona uses a style of dribbling called “Gambetta” in which he would use his body position to trick into going the wrong way.
Maradona is an impudent, supreme football dribbler – who uses his small stature to make an extraordinary impact which made him one of the best dribblers in football. His strength and control made it difficult to knock him off the ball.
Considered by many as a standout amongst one of the most skillful players in football, he was commended for his abilities and inventiveness. only if his prime had lasted longer, he may very well have been crowned with Ballon d’Or but Okocha is one of the best football dribblers. Be that as it may, it always a joy to watch the Nigerian dazzle on the football pitch.
The former PSG forward and Brazil legend came into the limelight amid his time with Barcelona scoring 70 goals in 145 caps for the club. Dinho brought his mesmerizing pattern of football from the streets of Brazil onto the world stage, and defenders couldn’t deal with his skills and frills.
Every little thing about him appeared to be so superb. From his sly bluffs to his sudden change in increasing speed, all that he did was accompanied by a smile all over his face. His most popular trick was ‘Snake Bite’ where he would trick defenders by pushing the ball sideways, however, all of a sudden pulling the ball back the other way. He is considered one of the best football dribblers.
Having for all intents and purposes wins everything minus a World Cup, the four-time Balon d’Or winner is magnificently unstoppable on his day. The Barcelona forward has scored lots of stunning goals, beating three, four, even five players before firing it in the back of the net.
Mathias Sindelar, Zinedine Zidane, Micheal Laudrup, Adama Toure, Magico Gonzalez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar Jr, Ariel Ortega, Eden Hazard,Dennis Bergkamp.
This is CheapGoal’s top 10 football dribblers, if any of our loving readers feel otherwise or have their preferred special list, pls don’t hesitate to drop and comment…