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Among these players are Nigerians, those of whom were not left out of the action as they played their own part in the consistent actions. In this article, we take a look at the top 10 Nigerian footballers out there who have caught the eyes of the football lovers in the just concluded season.

By Farouq Oduola  

The 2020/2021 football season just ended in most European countries but of course, it left us with a thrilling excitement and fulfillment with the non-stop interesting and competitive matches across the continent. Week in week out, we witness a lot of action in all divisions of every game, showcasing players of different class and skill-set, all engaging in a season-long battle.

This season has seen some exceptional players impress in every role on the field. Among these players are Nigerians, those of whom were not left out of the action as they played their own part in the consistent action.

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In this article, we take a look at the top 10 Nigerian footballers out there who have caught the eyes of the football lovers in the just concluded season. 

10. Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam, Holland) 

Okoye, who plays as a goalkeeper for the Dutch Eredivisie side, Sparta Rotterdam is worthy of his spot on this list after an impressive season with the top tier club. The 21 year old started as a replacement after he made his switch from German fourth tier team Fortuna Dusseldorf II last season to earn his place as the first choice goalkeeper under manager, Henk Fraser. He had since made the spot his, helping the team to reach Europa league playoff where they lost to Feyenoord. The Nigerian shot stopper finished the season in an impressive form after keeping 10 clean sheets in the top Eredivisie division and subsequently making the club’s team of the season. At national level, he retains the trust of National team coach Gernot Rohr. Even before he made a switch to the Dutch side, Gernot Rohr had put his trust in the promising goalkeeper ignoring criticisms from every angle.

9. William Troost-Ekong (Watford, England)

The defender moved from Udinese of Italy to English side Watford who were at the time a championship team. Troost-Ekong has had an impressive season since his move back in September last year helping his team secure promotion to the English premier league after only one season in the championship. The center back, whose team boasts of the fewest goals conceded (12) in the championship. He is part of the defence that sees to that success ranking up 32 league appearances for the team. After a successful season with the championship side, the Nigerian defender will be hoping for a good season when the English Premier League resumes in August, where he most likely will continue his impressive work at the heart of the team’s defence.

8. Victor Osimehn (Napoli, Italy)

The Nigerian international has earned recognition for his great works before moving to Napoli, from French side LOSC Lille, where he proved to be a valuable asset for his team, winning th Vivien Foe Award and also making Ligue 1, first team of the season. After his record transfer to the Italian Serie A side, the youngster continued to play key role in the Napoli side.

Although, the just concluded season was not as successful as his previous after his side narrowly missed out on UEFA Champions League qualification thanks to Juventus dramatic finish of the season. 

Osimhen, remains a key player under National team manager, Gernot Rohr, as they look forward to the African Nations Cup after a fine performance in the qualifiers. No wonder he makes the list.

7. Simy Nwankwo (Crotone)

In truth, the just concluded season has been the best for the player who experienced a kind of mixed feelings after his side was relegated to the Serie B, despite pulling back-to-back top class performances in the league finding the net an impressive 20 times making him the Nigerian international with the most goals after Paul Onuachu.

However, the National Team Coach Gernot Rohr, is not moved by the striker’s performance as he claims that the striker needs to move to a more competitive team to be certain of his abilities. Despite being in this small team, there’s no denying the fact that the Nigerian has done a fine job scoring that amount of goals against all sorts of teams in the league.

6. Joe Aribo (Rangers, Scotland)

Aribo had an awesome 2020/2021 season under Manager Steven Gerrard who praised the midfielder’s impressive performance. Aribo played a vital role as Rangers became the league champions surpassing the dominating Celtic playing 25 times and scoring six times. The just concluded season made it his second season with the club. He is also a key player in the Nigerian national team squad.

5. Zaidu Sanusi (FC Porto, Portugal)

Zaidu Sanusi joined Porto last season from local rivals, Santa Clara and had since established himself as an important part of the team.

The Nigerian left back enjoyed a fine season in the Portuguese capital featuring in 41 games in all competitions and amidst those games, he featured in are, the champions league games, making it to the quarter finals where they lost to eventual winners; Chelsea.

He would have had a better season if his team had won the Portuguese league. As Nigeria awaits the African Cup of Nations, the full back will hope to feature for his country.

4. Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England)

Ndidi, one of two Nigerians that played for the Foxes, has been a fantastic player over the years, earning him lots of accolades from journalists home and abroad. He is rated as one of the best defensive midfielders in the league.

The 24-year-old, continued to impress under Manager Brendan Rodgers, as he remains a regular in the team. The midfielder showcased an amazing defensive display in the middle of Leicester City pack when they defeated Chelsea in the FA Cup final, shielding the Foxes defence against the pacy Chelsea team. He helped the team to fifth position in the premier league, missing out on champions league qualification by inches. Overall, he had a fantastic season and doesn’t look like his form will depreciate any time soon.

3. Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal, Spain)

Known for his fast feet and dribbling skills, the winger has been one of the inspirations behind Villarreal’s 2020/2021 season as he remains one of the most promising youngsters in Europe. He played a vital role in Villarreal’s UEFA Europa League games as his team went on to become the champions of the competition, defeating Manchester United in the final. Chukwueze could not make the final due to injury but he was a key part of their success going through to the final.

2. Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England)

The Nigerian striker left Manchester City for Leicester for lack of playing time only to find himself on the Foxes’ bench. This season, Iheanacho showed the manager, Brendan Rodgers what he has been missing as he gradually worked his way back into the Foxes starting line-up. The Nigerian striker caught everyone by surprise as his form suddenly improved rapidly netting 15 times for the premier league side in all competitions including the Europa league. The Foxes went ahead to win the FA Cup title thanks to Iheanacho’s impressive form even though he didn’t score in the final. His interesting season with Brendan Rodgers side saw him set a record as he became the only footballer ever to have scored in every single day of the week in a single season, no other player has managed that record before him.

1. Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk, Belgium) 

Paul has been the most consistent Nigerian striker over a few years now. He has produced great performances for his club, Genk; scoring 35 goals in all competitions this season. Although he has been under consistent criticism with the fact that he is not playing in the top 5 leagues in the world but he has managed to convince most people. Clubs around Europe are beginning to take notice of the free scoring striker following another fine season in the Belgian First division A. Onuachu was first ignored by the national team before he was later considered. He had been impressive since, as he claimed two goals in Nigeria’s last two AFCON qualifiers helping the team secure a spot to compete in the much-anticipated competition.

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