After contributing 39 goals and 17 assists in all competitions during his 18-month stay in Almeria, it is no exaggeration to say Umar Sadiq is the hottest property in the Spanish Segunda Division.
Clubs across Europe recognise his quality. Manchester City, Barcelona, and even Bayern Munich have been linked with a move for the former AS Roma starlet over the past year.
While those continental giants may not return for Sadiq this summer, there are enough indications that Almeria may struggle to hold on to their star man in the face of interests from Sevilla, Newcastle, and Valencia.
With this clutch of elite clubs in the hunt for Sadiq’s signature, where should the Kaduna-born striker head to in July/August?
Primed to thrive in Seville?
Sevilla are undoubtedly Sadiq’s biggest admirers, with the club’s football director Ramón Rodríguez ‘Monchi’ Verdejo a big fan of the Nigerian’s style of play.
A lot of money will need to exchange hands before Almeria give Sadiq, who has a €60 million release clause in his contract, the nod to switch to the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán.
Should the Sevillistas manage to put a transfer fee enough to convince Almeria together to get their man, Sadiq may find a fantastic football project on the ground that would suit his style and personality.
Under the tutelage of head coach Julen Lopetegui, Sevilla are the master of the counter-attacks and rapid wing plays. Sadiq, with his pace and power, will thrive on the crosses and passes of Marcos Acuna, Ivan Rakitic, Jesus Corona, and the ageless Jesus Navas.
Sevilla are the lowest-scoring team in La Liga’s top four. None of their players have managed double figures of goals, with only Lucas Ocampos and Rafa Mir netting six or more goals so far.
A consistent goalscoring run could quickly see Sadiq seal his spot as the club’s undisputed number nine in the face of moderate opposition.
And with Sevilla favourites to land a Champions League spot for next season, a great adventure could await Sadiq with the record six-time UEFA Europa League winners.
Newcastle’s riches to tempt Almeria and Sadiq?
Sevilla may, however, not be able to match Newcastle’s financial strength in the summer transfer window. After last year’s Saudi takeover, the Magpies are the richest club in the Premier League, with a war chest and desire to afford some of the best players in the world.
Many of those players would still refuse to join the new project in Tyneside until it takes firm root.
Newcastle already have enough pull to attract Sadiq, though, and many like him. And should he join them, how often he plays will depend on the club not bringing in another striker of a more prominent profile and status.
Sadiq could, however, be an instant hit in the Premier League if he becomes manager Eddie Howe’s first-choice striker.
Howe is shifting United’s focus from playing too many aimless long balls to attacking down the channels and sending in more crosses.
And flanked by the mercurial Allan Saint-Maximin and Ryan Fraser, Sadiq should be a better fit in attack than Callum Wilson, Chris Wood, or Joelinton.
Or remain at the Mediterranean Games Stadium?
It is improbable that Sadiq will stay at Almeria should the club fail to secure promotion to La Liga at the end of the current campaign.
He did last term to show his loyalty to the club, but spending his best years in the Segunda when he could achieve much more elsewhere would be sheer stupidity.
The 25-year-old loves the club, and it would not surprise many should he remain at the Estadio de los Juegos Mediterráneos if Almeria ascends to the Primera Division.
Sadiq knows the club, he is adored by the fans, he has the trust of his teammates, and manager Rubi has built the team around him. All things being equal, he could repeat his excellent scoring form in La Liga.
It could also go wrong, as Almeria could struggle against the big guns when they return to the elite division, and Sadiq, caught in the mess, may no longer command as much transfer value as he presently does.
Going to Sevilla, Newcastle, or staying in Almeria is a question Sadiq will need to address when the summer transfer window opens in July.
And his answer will shape the trajectory his career will take from that point on. For the sake of the Super Eagles, let’s hope he makes the best choice.