Football transfer rumours sometimes have to be taken with a pinch of salt. But throughout the summer of 2023, links between Spanish giants Barcelona and Napoli’s Nigerian goal-scoring superstar Victor Osimhen were abound.
With Europe’s big clubs circling like sharks, keen to get the prolific goal-getter on their books, it raised plenty of interest in the betting markets as to where he would end up. Punters can find more on TPP about the best bookmakers for transfer betting.
Besides Barcelona, everyone from Bayern Munich to PSG, Real Madrid, and Chelsea has been linked in the press with making a move for Osimhen. Napoli have been keen to get Osimhen to put pen to paper on a new contract.
That’s perhaps not so much with the expectation of keeping him long-term, but to apply a massive release clause that any club would have to first meet. As the Osimhen story rumbles on, it’s worth looking back to the Nigerian trailblazers who have played for the famous Blaugrana.
The African Contingent at Barcelona
In 2022, Ivorian Franck Kessie earned himself a move to Barcelona. In doing so, he became just the 18th African player to pull on the famous shirt. He made a nice bit of history too as he scored Barcelona’s 3000th, goal at the Camp Nou. But the affair between the two parties didn’t last. as Kessie moved to the Saudi Pro League in 2023.
There have been some African greats to play for Barcelona, like Samuel Eto’o, Seydou Keita, and Yaya Toure. But what about Nigerian players? There have been just the two.
Super Eagles star Gbenga Okunowo, now retired, can boast a spell at Barcelona on his list of career achievements. He first came onto the scene in 1997, when he was part of the Barcelona youth setup, not an easy place to make the grade.
But Okunowo got there and made his debut for the full Barcelona side in the 1998-99 campaign, the season in which they returned the La Liga title. He played alongside greats like current Barcelona boss Xavi, Luis Figo, and Rivaldo.
So Okunowo played with some of the greats of the game. But he never achieved the kind of fame any of them did. He made 21 appearances for Barcelona in all competitions. A period of loans at clubs in several different nations all proved unsuccessful and Okunowo could never force his way back to the top of the game.
The second Nigerian to appear for Barcelona was Emmanuel Amunike, who is the current Super Eagles assistant coach. Amunike himself earned 27 caps for Nigeria during his playing days and landed a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics.
After getting picked up from Egyptian side Zamalek in 1994 by Portuguese side Sporting, Emmanuel Amunike nailed a dream move to Barcelona in 1996. The winger and former African Footballer of the Year failed to make the grade at the Camp Nou, however.
While he did get a Copa del Rey medal, Amunike only made 26 appearances for Barca. He moved on to Albacete on a free transfer before going to Busan IPark in South Korea and then Jordan to play for Al-Wehdat, where he retired from the game.
While high-profile transfer rumours are easy, speculative news items that fuel reader interest, how much stock should you put in them? Transfer betting is a tricky area as in most cases, the rumoured links between a player and a club are generally strong and a case of ‘no smoke without fire’. That leads to poor odds value.
Think Harry Kane to Bayern Munich and Jude Bellingham to Real Madrid. The links had been lingering before the deals were done, so the value in such transfer markets was really getting in as early as possible. Next time, at the first whisper of a transfer, that’s the ideal time to go searching for odds.