The Nigeria international finally had his way as he draws closer to fulfilling a childhood dream of playing in the world’s most glamorous league
KRC Genk director Dimitri de Conde reveals that Super Eagles striker Paul Onuachu ‘begged’ to leave on transfer deadline day after the club momentarily stalled on getting a deal done with Southampton.
Arguably the best player in the Belgian First Division A over the past two years, Onuachu had been ready to move to a bigger league for a while.
But despite winning Belgium’s Golden Boot and Player of the Year award back in 2021, Onuachu failed to find an admiring suitor willing to match Genk’s valuation of him.
Premier League clubs, West Ham and Wolverhampton Wanderers were two of those who showed interest in Onuachu in previous transfer windows but ultimately settled for other options.
And when Southampton came calling towards the end of January, seeking to sign the Nigerian international, the 28-year-old felt it was probably his last chance to earn his dream move to the Premier League.
Genk, though, remained adamant that their financial demands had to be met and a replacement found before Onuachu was allowed to join Southampton.
In the end, Onuachu got his wishes after Southampton parted with £18 million while Genk brought in Nigerian youngster Tolu Arokodare from Ligue 2 side Amiens as his replacement.
And speaking to Het Nieuwsblad, Genk’s head of football Dimitri de Conde admits that Onuachu’s begging did not change anything and that the club’s targets were met before the deal was given the green light.
What has been said?
“At 1 pm (on deadline day), I had a conversation with a very emotional Paul,” De Conde recalls. “He felt his dream slip away again. ‘Please, let me go. This could be my very last chance’, he begged.
“I had to make it clear to him that there were two conditions under which the deal could succeed. One; the numbers had to be correct. And, two; we had to be able to bring in a replacement.
“I had already had a conversation about it with coach Wouter Vrancken in the morning. At a certain point, you can no longer say ‘no’ on a human level, Wouter agreed. Especially because certain promises were made.”
After completing the deal, Onuachu set the record as the tallest player in the Premier League this season at 6ft 7ins.
The former FC Midtjylland forward will, however, not make his debut this weekend when Southampton trade tackles with Brentford at the Gtech Community Stadium due to work permit issues.