With the conclusion of the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt where the Super Eagles finished third, attention will now be focused on the European season that is just a few weeks to go.
Soccernet’s Augustine Akhilomen x-rayed some of the Super Eagles that will hit the headline in Europe.
Oghenekharo Etebo (Stoke City): Had a decent performance at the just concluded Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, where he played a vital role in Super Eagles third-place finish. The former Warri Wolves midfielder is expected to continue from where he finished last season with another sterling performance in the colours of Stoke City this season in the Championship.
He’s always a notable player in the starting line up of Stoke City manager, Nathan Jones last season and Etebo is determined to help the Potters gained promotion back to the Premier League this season
Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City): Workaholic and solid in the midfield for the Super Eagles at the 2019 AFCON, Ndidi remains one player that Brender Rodgers will be relying on for a successful season in the English Premier League.
It’s a familiar terrain for Ndidi who has already had to work under a new coach thrice at Leicester City. Since he joined the Premier League side in January 2017, Ndidi has worked with three coaches-Claudio Ranieri, Craig Shakespeare, and Puel.
As a defensive midfielder, Ndidi has been one of the best in the Premier League. He was the second-best tackler in Europe last season and so been in the top five this season. He is a magnificent ball-winner no doubt, but under Rodgers, he will be required to do more and therein lies the challenge. Always expect the best from him this season.
Alex Iwobi (Arsenal): Having debunked reports of a possible departure from Arsenal this season, Iwobi, who had a not too impressive performance in Egypt will still be expected to star in the Gunners Premier League.
The Nigeria international isn’t really a winger, a central midfielder or a No. 10 and isn’t particularly prolific in terms of goals, assists or dribbles, and probably can’t be likened to anyone before him.
Nevertheless, Iwobi has carved out a useful role for himself at the Emirates and has been one of the major beneficiaries of Unai Emery’s first season in charge. Iwobi will be representing Arsenal in the Europa League after the Gunners finished fifth on the league table.
Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal): One of Nigeria’s brightest stars in AFCON 2019, Chukwueze, dubbed ‘The New Robben’, could hit the headlines this season in Spanish League with Villarreal if he maintains his gradual rise to stardom. His pace, mesmerizing skills and quick feet with the ball makes him a threat for defenders in Europe.
Having performed well for the Yellow Submarine’s reserves, Chukwueze made his first-team debut in September of last year. Since then, his positive style of play has seen him attract attention from the likes of Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid.
Samuel Kalu (Bordeaux): The Bordeaux midfield maestro was a delight to watch last season in the French League until he copped an injury in the tail end of the league. Kalu is blessed with quick feet, pace and will be expected to shine this season if he remains fit.
No doubt, one of Bordeaux’s star men in the French League last season, Kalu’s gradual rise after the departure of Malcom to Barcelona will make him face a difficult task of occupying his shoes when the new the season kicks off.
Ola Aina (Torino): The former Chelsea defender who has joined Torino permanently in the Italian League, had a decent performance in the Africa Cup of Nations. He is another quality right full-back likely to command a regular shirt when the new season kicks off lat August.
Adapting to a different formation has not hindered him as he has been able to demonstrate his ability to use both feet, accelerate quickly, and dribble past opponents. Although he is not overly tall, he is capable of heading the ball as he proved with both his solitary goal and assist for the campaign so far.
William Troost-Ekong (Udinese): Aside from the own-goal he made against Algeria in the Semi-Final of the Africa Cup of Nations, Troost-Ekong has always shown consistency in his play and will be key for Udinese in the Italian League this season.
Last season was a great one to remember for Troost-Ekong as he featured in 35 league games for Udinese and was solid in the defence. No Udinese manager, Igor Tudor will be banking on the Nigerian international, who scored the winning goal against South Africa in AFCON, to lead the charge next season.
Chidozie Awaziem (Nantes): Deputised perfectly for injured Shehu Abdullahi at the AFCON tournament, where he made some strong display against teams like Cameroon, Algeria and South Africa.
The Nantes defender, who plies his football trade in the French League will definitely be another star to watch next season considering his versatility and recovery rate each time he attacks from the flank.
Victor Osimeh (Charleroi): With the retirement of Odion Ighalo from the Super Eagles, attention will be focused on Osimeh who was the star of the golden Eaglet squad that won the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup. He played a cameo role in AFCON and will be expected to hit the ground running with goals with his Belgian club, Charleroi this season.
Osihmen can play as a lone striker and can also fit in with a roaming forward who can take away the attention of defenders away from him when the ball is delivered into the box.
Still very young, Oshimen is showing signs at Charleroi that he is a poacher and has a natural instinct for finding the back of the net.
Henry Onyekuru (Everton): Though had limited time to impress in AFCON for the Super Eagles, Onyekuru was a player to watch for Galatasaray last season with his brilliant goal sense while on loan.
Onyekuru is a pacy forward who can play on either flank or centrally depending on the tactical instruction and set up. His explosive pace and trickery are Onyekru’s major weapon but despite often played on the wing he has an incredible conversion ratio as a goalscorer.
The self-confident Onyekuru is a cool finisher well beyond his age and possesses a terrific shot with his right foot. The Aspire academy and Eupen cherish technical skills, and that’s why the Nigerian has made such phenomenal progress over the years. Football-wise, he is very well educated. No doubt, Everton will be hoping to keep him in England ahead of the Premier League season.
Kenneth Omeruo (Chelsea): No doubt one of Super Eagles standout players at the just concluded AFCON in Egypt, where he featured virtually in all the games. Although his fate has not been ascertained on whether he’s to remain as a Chelsea player this season or still go on loan, Omeruo’s remains one player always ready to shine in Europe if given the chance this season.
Jamiu Collins (SC Paderborn 07): A revelation for the Super Eagles at the Africa Cup of Nations, Collins, who plays in the German club SC Paderborn 07, will be among few players that will fly the Nigerian flag high this season.
Interestingly, Collins played a key role in helping Paderborn 07 gained promotion to the German Bundesliga after the team finished second behind Cologne last season.