The 2019/2020 season will be remembered not for the football played on the pitch, but for a virus that made fans realise life is more important than the beautiful game.
The world is currently gloomy due to the coronavirus outbreak that has shut down almost all activities in several countries.
Sport is not left out with many competitions currently on suspension or cancelled. Leagues across the world have been suspended as health officials try to find a way to contain the virus that has killed over 13,000 people.
However, while the leagues are currently on a break, about two-thirds of matches have been played, which means we are already at the business end of the season.
The competition is heating up, while there have also been some players who have standout with their performances.
Super Eagles stars are not left out of this story as some have made their marks in their respective clubs. As a result, Soccernet.ng compiles a list of Nigerian players best XI playing abroad this campaign.
Note that this is not restricted to Nigerian stars in Europe only. The criteria used in creating this XI include quality of the league, number of games and performances.
GK: Daniel Akpeyi ( Kaizer Chiefs, ABSA Premier League): The 33-year-old edges out Maduka Okoye in goal. Signed from Chippa United last year, Akpeyi has usurped Itumeleng Khune as Kaizer Chiefs No 1, taking advantage of the South Africa international’s injury.
The Super Eagles star has featured in 19 league games for Chiefs this season and concedes an average of 0.8 goals in 90 minutes.
In contrast, his rival, Maduka Okoye concedes an average of 1.98 goals per game and has kept just two clean sheets in 11 league games he has played this season.
Akpeyi meanwhile has nine clean sheets in 19 league games with his best moment coming in the Soweto Derby.
Right Back: Kingsley Ehizibue ( FC Cologne, Bundesliga): Although he is yet to make his Super Eagles debut, he was included in the squad set to meet Sierra Leone before it was postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Ehizibue picks up the right-back spot ahead of Ola Aina and Chidozie Awaziem. The 24-year-old has made 24 appearances in all competitions for Cologne this season, scoring one goal.
According to whoscored, he averages 3.1 tackles per game and has won 265 of the duel he has faced this season. With performances like this, Ehizibue could make the Super Eagles right-back spot his own this season.
Left Back: Jamilu Collins (Paderborn, Bundesliga): The left-back spot is also picked up by a player playing in the German Bundesliga. Despite featuring for bottom side, Paderborn, Jamilu Collins qualities are there to see.
Only Sebastian Andersson and Marcus Thuram have won more duels than Collins in the Bundesliga this season.
The 25-year-old has featured 21 times for Paderborn this season, scoring one goal and providing two assists from his left-back position.
He averages 2.1 tackles per game, while he has also been excellent going forward with 0.8 shots per game. Collins takes his place ahead of Ola Aina who has also been decent for Torino this season.
Centre Back: William Troost Ekong (Udinese, Serie A): The Udinese takes his place in the team following a series of impressive performances this season.
The 23-year-old has made 23 league appearances for Udinese, and in these 23 games, he has never put a foot wrong.
He averages one tackle per game and has made 110 clearances which is the seventh highest in the Serie A this season.
Centre Back: Semi Ajayi (West Brom, Skybet Championship): The 26-year-old edges out Kenneth Omeruo and Chidozie Awaziem despite playing in the second tier of England’s division. With 35 league appearances, Semi Ajayi is playing an important role in West Brom chase for promotion.
The former Rotherham defender averages a tackle per game and has played over 3,000 minutes this season. In addition to his defensive work, the Super Eagles star has also contributed offensively, scoring five goals.
Midfielder: Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, Premier League): Leicester are currently well placed to finish inside the top four this season as they sit in third place with 53 points.
But that wouldn’t have been possible if not for the performance of Wilfred Ndidi. Yes, Jamie Vardy has been banging in the goals, while they’ve also enjoyed the creativity of James Maddison.
However, Ndidi is what makes them tick. He is the fulcrum of this Leicester side, and it was evident when he was out between January and February.
The Foxes won just one match within the period Ndidi was out injured, and that showed the importance of the former Genk man. ‘
He is the transition between the Foxes defence and attack. He acts as a shield for the defence, while he also set up the attacking process.
He currently has made the most interceptions in the Premier League this season, while he also has the fourth-highest number of tackles.
Midfielder: Joe Aribo (Rangers, Scottish Premiership): The 23-year-old joined Rangers from Charlton last year, but he is already one of Steven Gerrard’s favourites.
Aribo has made 47 appearances for the Gers this season, scoring nine times, providing eight assists. He’s been able to produce these performances while playing in multiple positions under Steven Gerrard.
The Super Eagles star has played as a defensive midfielder, central midfielder, left-winger, right midfielder, left-back and right-winger this season.
Left Winger: Moses Simon (Nantes, Ligue 1): Simon is arguably Nigeria’s best player in the French top division after Victor Osimhen.
On loan from Levante, Simon has been a nightmare for Ligue 1 full-backs, while his work rate is impressive also. The 24-year-old has featured 30 times for Les Canaries this season, scoring nine goals and providing eight assists.
It’s no wonder he’s attracting interest from Lyon, Hertha Berlin and Newcastle.
Right Winger: Emmanuel Dennis (Club Brugge, Belgian Pro League): Samuel Chukwueze should have been the natural option for this position, but the Nigeria international has failed to reach the heights of last season.
While he is struggling with the Yellow Submarines, Emmanuel Dennis is one of the breakout stars of this campaign. The 22-year-old caught the world’s attention in a Champions League game at the Santiago Bernabeu, scoring a brace in Club Brugge’s 2-2 draw against Real Madrid.
Dennis backed up that performance with another goal against Manchester United in the Europa League. The 22-year-old who made his international debut last September has scored nine goals for Blauw-Zwart this season.
Recently, he has been linked with a move to Borussia Dortmund as a potential replacement for English winger, Jadon Sancho.
Striker: Cyriel Dessers (Heracles Almelo, Eredivisie): Like Ehizibue, Dessers is also yet to make his Super Eagles debut, but he has declared his intentions to represent Nigeria.
He was included in the squad that was set to face Sierra Leone in an AFCON qualifier before it was postponed. Dessers is the most prolific Nigerian striker in Europe this season with 15 goals in 26 league games for Heracles.
He is currently the top scorer in the Eredivisie and has a hand in 50% of the goals Heracles have scored this campaign.
Striker: Victor Osimhen (Lille, Ligue 1): Osimhen is arguably Nigeria’s best player in Europe this season. He has been a revelation in the French top-flight in his debut season.
The 21-year-old joined Lille from Royal Charleroi last year, but he has settled in quickly. The Super Eagles star has been a menace to opposition defenders and goalkeepers.
His pace and speed leave Ligue 1 defenders in the dust, while he has also been clinical in front of goal. With 13 Ligue 1 goals and five more in other competitions, Osimhen has had a hand in over 50% of Lille’s goals this season.
It’s no surprise he’s attracting interest from Europe’s top clubs. If he keeps it up, it’s hard to see Les Dogues retaining his services for a long time.