The three-time African champions have never hidden their desire to tempt the versatile Arsenal youngster to play for the country of birth of his parents, but England may have won the race for his international future
England boss Gareth Southgate has handed Bukayo Saka his first senior call-up ahead of the Three Lions’ UEFA Nations League games against Belgium and Denmark next month.
BREAKING: Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Bukayo Saka and Harvey Barnes have been handed their first senior England call-ups, while Mason Greenwood and Phil Foden have been dropped.
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) October 1, 2020
Should the 19-year-old forward- turn-wingback feature in any of those two games, he will no longer be eligible to play for Nigeria.
Despite being an England youth international, Saka remained on the radar of top Nigerian football officials, with the country’s Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, revealing that he had charged the President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, to convince the youngster to switch his allegiance to the African giants.
Saka rose to prominence last season after the exciting youngster broke into the Arsenal first-team, showing excellent attacking attributes when deployed as a winger, and later impressed while playing at full-back.
While the NFF was able to secure the commitment of England youth internationals of Nigerian descent in the past, such as Victor Moses, Josh Maja, Alex Iwobi, and Joe Aribo, the football body failed in the pursuit of Tammy Abraham, Dele Alli, and Fikayo Tomori among others.
Saka’s name, though, is about to be added to the latter group. Attention then switches to Crystal Palace’s Ebere Eze, whose international allegiance has also been the subject of debate between England and Nigeria.
Southgate’s men face Belgium on Oct 11 before trading tackles with Denmark three days later.
The Super Eagles are equally scheduled to play two international friendly matches against African champions Algeria and North African giants Tunisia on October 9th and 13th, respectively.