The United Kingdom especially England has always been home to Nigerian players with the likes of Efan Ekoku, Daniel Amkoachi, Celestine Babayaro, Kanu Nwankwo and Austin Okocha among the few ex-Super Eagles stars to have graced the English Premier League.
And that’s why It’s not a surprise to see some of the current Super Eagles stars plying their trade in England right now.
A couple of them have taken their performances to another level this season, and Soccernet picks out the top five Nigerians in British football this season.
NB: This is not restricted to the Premier League only.
5. Odion Ighalo (Manchester United): Sitting in fifth place is a player who only returned to England shores in January. Ighalo was a surprise deadline day signing from Manchester United from Shanghai Shenhua.
The former Super Eagles star joined the Red Devils on a loan deal till the end of the season. The move was met with criticism from several United fans and pundits.
The 30-year-old had a successful first stint in England with Watford, but many felt he did not fit the United profile.
However, Ighalo has proved everyone wrong with his performances. The former Nigeria international has scored four goals in eight appearances for United including a brace in the FA Cup win over Derby.
His exploits have endeared him to United fans, and there have been reports that the club are considering buying him permanently.
4. Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City): That he is sitting in the fourth position is a testament of the hard work Iheancho put in this season. The 23-year-old endured a torrid start to the campaign with just two cup appearances in the first four months of the season.
It looked like it had all fallen apart for the Nigeria international as he was out of favour under Brendan Rodgers. However, it all turned around at the beginning of December in the Foxes 2-1 win over Everton.
With Leicester City trailing, Iheanacho was brought on for his first league appearance of the season. It was an opportunity he took perfectly well, setting up Jamie Vardy’s equalizer before scoring the winner in the final minute of injury time.
Since then, Iheanacho has gone on to become one of Leicester’s top players. His eight goals make him Foxes third-highest goalscorer this campaign.
3. Semi Ajayi(West Brom): The 26-year-old only joined the Baggies last summer, but he has turned out to be an important player in West Brom’s chase for promotion.
Slaven Bilic’s side currently sit in the second position on the Championship table with 70 points from 37 games. Semi Ajayi has played in 35 of those, scoring five goals from his centre back position.
Should West Brom eventually seal promotion (hoping the coronavirus ceases), then Semi Ajay would’ve played a massive role in it.
2. Joe Aribo (Rangers): Aribo joined Rangers this season after leaving Charlton on a free. But he has settled in well in his debut season for the Gers.
The 23-year-old’s performances this season has earned him an international call up with the Super Eagles, and he has now become a regular in the starting line-up.
He is one of the Super Eagles stars that have made the most appearances this season having featured in 48 games for Rangers. Also, he has scored seven goals and managed eight assists.
1. Wilfred Ndidi(Leicester City): There’s nobody more worthy of picking up the number one spot than the former Genk man.
Jamie Vardy may be Foxes’ top scorer, James Maddison may be the one with the creativity, but none is as vital as Ndidi in Leicester’s team.
This was evident when he was injured between January and February. The Foxes won just one match within the period Ndidi was out injured.
Ndidi is what makes Brendan Rodgers side tick. He is the link between the defence and attack. He breaks up opposition’s attacking play, while he is the foundation that sets up Foxes attack.
He has featured in 29 games for Leicester this season, scoring twice. As a result of his performances, Ndidi is listed among the ten most valuable defensive midfielders in the world right now.