Nigeria’s goal-scoring whizkid, Victor Osimhen only recently completed a move to French side Lille in a multimillion-dollar deal that will keep him in the Ligue 1 until 2024.
The former Charleroi striker joins a choice group of Super Eagles elite stars who have commanded large transfer fees when switching clubs.
Soccernet’s Imhons Erons shines the light on the biggest transfers involving talented footballers who represented Nigeria at the senior level.
1. Kelechi Iheanacho, Manchester City to Leicester City: €27.7 million
After he guided the Golden Eaglets to U-17 FIFA World Cup triumph, Iheanacho was quickly snapped up by English Premier League side Manchester City.
But two years of playing second fiddle to Sergio Aguero was never going to cut it for an ambitious talent destined for greater heights.
The Super Eagles forward thereafter secured a lucrative move to the Foxes, effectively making him the most valuable Nigeria footballer ever.
2. Odion Ighalo, Watford to Changchun Yatai: €23.3 million
The former Granada forward shone brightest in England where he blasted 39 goals in 100 appearances in two and a half years at Vicarage Road.
Even more impressive were the 17 goals he plundered in Watford’s first season back in the top flight after securing promotion in the 2014/15 season.
#OnThisDay in 2015, after going 2-0 down Watford FC smashed Blackpool 7-2! A Memorable Day For Odion Ighalo.
#WatfordFC #Hornets #Ighalo pic.twitter.com/3CdafIeyf5
— Jude Ighalo Fans (@judeighalofans) January 24, 2019
And when the China Super League side decided to lure Ighalo to Asia at just 28 years old, it was clear that a lot of money had to be involved for the deal to see the light of the day.
3. John Obi Mikel, Lyn Oslo to Chelsea: €20 million
Mikel initially signed professional forms with Manchester United, with a transfer agreed for the end of the Norwegian season in January 2006.
The young lad then turned around to claim he was forced to agree terms with United and that he actually wanted to join Chelsea.
Happy 32nd birthday John Obi Mikel! 🎈
One of our most under appreciated players ever, he never lost the ball! 🙌
— CFC-Blues (@CFCBlues_com) April 22, 2019
The Premier League and FIFA intervened.
By the time the dispute was resolved, Chelsea had forked out a fee of £16million to secure the services of the midfield enforcer.
The rest, they say, is history.
4. Ahmed Musa, CSKA Moscow to Leicester: €19.5 million
Musa helped CSKA win the Russian title, scoring 54 times in 168 games.
By which time he had amassed more than half a century games for Nigeria and scored against Argentina at the World Cup at the ripe old age of 23.
His exploits certainly could not be ignored forever.
Leicester City came knocking and signed the Nigeria international for a then club-record fee.
5. Wilfred Ndidi, RC Genk to Leicester: €17.6m
Leicester City, in one of the most incredible fairy tales in modern football, won the English Premier League and thereafter sold their key man, N’Golo Kante to Chelsea.
— Premier League (@premierleague) April 1, 2017
A replacement was needed fast and the Foxes turned their attention to one man who had been generating quite the buzz in Belgium – Nigeria’s Ndidi.
6. Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Middlesborough to Everton: €16.5 million
Everton were sinking and sliding down the Premier League towards relegation, when the decision was made to find help at all cost.
OFFICIAL: Former Nigeria, Everton & Middlesbrough and Blackburn striker, Yakubu Aiyegbeni has announced that he is retiring from professional football at the age of 35.
The Yak recorded a total number of 21 goals and he's the 3rd best all time scorer of the senior national team. pic.twitter.com/9CV2wFFA4y
— NG to the World (@SplufikNG) November 22, 2017
By this time, Aiyegbeni Yakubu had built up a reputation as a fearsome target man and a proven goal-getter.
The former Super Eagles striker arrived at Goodison Park and at once eased the Toffees’ potentially crippling shortage of strikers.
Problem solved? Yak!
7. Obafemi Martins, Inter Milan to Newcastle: €16m
Nigeria’s “weapon of mass destruction” was a fans’ favourite at the San Siro after bursting into limelight with his electric pace and trademark back-flips.
Obafemi Martin's wonderful goal for Newcastle against Tottenham in 2007. https://t.co/vDS6mccgjD
— World Publicist (@IsimaOdeh) July 6, 2018
But when the club bought Argentina striker Hernan Crespo from Chelsea and Sweden frontman Zlatan Ibrahimovic from Juventus, it was time to go.
8. Emmanuel Emenike, Spartak Moscow to Fenerbahce: €13m
The 26-year-old Nigeria international rejoined the Turkish club after two seasons with the Russian league leaders.
Emenike first joined Fenerbahce in May 2011, signing from Karabukspor at the end of the season, but he left in July the same year without playing a match for them.
Once again Emenike's goal! pic.twitter.com/WpUxGanLMK
— Fener Int (@fenerint) September 29, 2016
He joined Spartak Moscow, spending two years in cold Russia.
But there was unfinished business in Turkey and in no time, the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations winner was back at Fenerbahce.
9. Austin Okocha, Fenerbache to PSG: €12.4m
Okocha was an integral member of Nigeria’s contingent to the 1998 FIFA World Cup in France.
The Super Eagles performed below expectations and got knocked out in the second round but the mercurial midfielder had shone enough mesmerizing displays to earn a spot in FIFA’s Squad of the Tournament.
And, more importantly, in the hearts of Parisians.
Paris Saint Germaine signed him that summer.
10 Victor Osimhen, Charleroi to OSC Lille: €12 million
The former U-17 world champion endured a difficult stay in Germany but then sparkled in the dull colours of Belgian side Sporting Charleroi.
The forward scored 12 goals in 25 league appearances in his debut season in the Jupiler League.
— LOSC (@LOSC_EN) August 1, 2019
But French Ligue one side Lille have splashed the cash to ensure that the Nigerian international is kicking it with the big boys when the group stages of the UEFA Champions League begin.
And the man who just missed out of the top ten…
11. Victor Moses, Wigan to Chelsea:€11.5 million
Young, fast, strong, tricky, with an eye for goal, Moses had it all.
He terrorised defenders at will, every week.
— THE BEAT 97.9 FM (@THEBEAT979FM) October 15, 2016
Wigan were not supposed to avoid the drop but thanks chiefly to their Nigeria winger – he banged in a club-high six goals – they were successful in their bid to stay in the Premier League.
Chelsea, one of his victims during the season, returned and signed the Wigan forward.