It’s just been over a month since the last ball was kicked, but league football is back as the 2020/2021 Premier League and La Liga season kicks off this weekend.
The new campaign is starting in September this time after last season could not end as scheduled due to the three months coronavirus enforced break.
In England, Liverpool finally ended their 30-year wait for a league title, while Real Madrid ended the two-year dominance of Barcelona in Spain.
But seven weeks after the season ended, a new challenge starts this weekend. Nigerian stars will also be on the show, and that’s why Soccernet highlights the country stars that will be on display in La Liga and the Premier League this new season.
Alex Iwobi (Everton): It was an underwhelming campaign for Iwobi in his first season at Everton after signing from Arsenal for 35 million pounds.
After a bright start which saw him score twice in his first three games, Iwobi fired blanks all season, providing just one assist in 31 games for the Toffees.
Some Everton fans criticised the Nigerian international performances, and that puts him under a lot of pressure this new season.
His second season is going to be more difficult than his debut campaign after Everton brought in the trio of James Rodriguez, Abdoulaye Doucoure and Allan. This season is crucial to Iwobi’s longterm future at Goodison Park.
Odion Ighalo (Manchester United): Ighalo joined Manchester United from Shanghai Shenhua in January on a loan deal that was supposed to last till the end of last season.
But due to the coronavirus break, it was extended for another seven months. The former Super Eagles star has been decent by his standards since he arrived at Old Trafford.
However, he would hope to impress and start more games as he enters the last five months of his deal. The former Watford star is yet to start a game in the Premier League for United, but he could get his chance when Solskjaer’s men kick off their campaign next weekend.
Eberechi Eze(Crystal Palace): After a brilliant season in the Skybet Championship season, Eze is ready to test his mettle on the big stage. The 22-year-old joined Crystal Palace from QPR for 16 million pounds that could rise to 20.
Eze was QPR’s best player and one of Championship’s best performers last season, scoring 14 times and registering eight assists in 46 Championship games.
However, the Premier League is on a different level, so it’ll be interesting to see how the talismanic midfielder fares in his first season.
Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho(Leicester City): For Ndidi, he’ll be looking to have another brilliant season, while for Iheanacho, he’ll want to have a better start compared to last season.
Leicester City only missed out on a top-four place on the final day last season. But they wouldn’t have been in that position in the first place if not for Ndidi’s exploits.
Since he arrived at the King Power Stadium, Ndidi has gone on to become one of the best defensive midfielders in the world. This season, he would be hoping to build on his impressive performances.
However, for Iheanacho, this season is crucial to his hopes of staying at Leicester longterm. The Super Eagles star has already been linked with a move away from the club, and could still leave.
But should he stay, he will have to convince Foxes manager, Brendan Rodgers, that he can be an able successor to Jamie Vardy.
Iheanacho will also want to avoid a repeat of last season, which saw him play his first league game at the start of December.
Semi Ajayi (West Brom): Semi Ajayi was arguably Nigeria’s best defender last season following his performances for the Baggies.
The 26-year-old played a crucial role in West Brom’s promotion to the English topflight. Ajayi played 43 times in the Championship for Slaven Bilic’s men, and he scored five in those games.
However, his defensive skills will be put to the test this season when he faces some of the best strikers not just in the league, but in the world.
Samuel Chukwueze(Villarreal): Chukwueze level dropped in his second season at Villarreal following a brilliant breakthrough campaign. The 21-year-old has been tipped as one of the stars of the future, but he struggled for consistency last season.
With Javi Calleja no longer the manager, Chukwueze will need to convince new boss, Unai Emery he is ready for the challenge. He would probably have to battle Takefusa Kubo, but it promises to be an exciting season for the young winger.
Kelechi Nwakali(Huesca): Nwakali’s career hasn’t turned out so well since he broke out at the 2015 U-17 World Cup. The 22-year-old has had quite a journey in his short career.
After the U-17 World Cup, Arsenal won the race to sign the Nigerian. But he never cut it at the club despite the loan spells he had MVV Mastricht, VV Venlo and FC Porto.
With him failing to impress at Arsenal, he joined Spanish side, Huesca permanently last summer. It was hoped the move would offer him a fresh start, but he was frozen out for most parts of the campaign.
Nonetheless, he still managed to play in the last five games of the season as Huesca secured promotion to the Spanish topflight.
Nwakali will now hope to continue in that form when Huesca kick off their La Liga campaign against Samuel Chukwueze’s Villarreal.
It promises to be an enthralling campaign, and Soccernet will be here to provide you with every detail.