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Pinnick to meet Mourinho, Pelegrini, Rogers over Ibe, Solanke, others


NIGERIA Football Federation (NFF) President, Amaju Pinnick, has disclosed that he would soon meet with the managers of Chelsea, Jose Mourinho; Liverpool, Brenda Rogers; and Manchester City, Manuel Pelegrini to discuss modalities for possible release of Dominic Solanke and Jordan Ibe to play for Nigeria.

  Pinnick, who just returned from a trip to the Emirate Stadium, where he held talks with Arsenal manager, Arsene Wenger, said Tuesday in Abuja that he would also embark on a trip to Belgium to hold talks with the owner of Standard Liege over some Nigerian-born players in the club.

  The NFF president, who described his trip to England as very fruitful, noted that the visits would enable the federation create a working relationship with the clubs and also guarantee easy release of the Nigerian players in the clubs any time they are wanted by the federation. He revealed that both the managers and parents of the players he met in England of their loyalty to Nigeria have assured him.

   He also described the report that Arsenal’s Chuba Akpom has rejected Nigeria for England as false, stressing that the player was not emphatic of his loyalty to England.

  “I decided to visit Arsene Wenger because I needed to meet him and get his assurance on the release of these young Nigerians that are in Arsenal team. This has become very pertinent because if you can remember, there was a time we invited Kelechi Iheanacho but we faced some challenges in securing his release. 

“But when you have a good relationship with the coaches, it will just be a mere phone call and the players’ release would be affected. 

   “The players and their parents themselves were much excited with the visit and they really want their children to be part of the success story of the various national teams they would be invited to play for. But they needed a lot of convincing assurance from us because they entertain a lot of fears.

   “We met with Arsene Wenger for about two hours and he assured us clearly that he would make Chuba Akpom, Segun Ajayi and even Alex Iwobi available to us any time we demand for their release. We have made this easy from the visit because it is very difficult for these boys coming out of England for Nigeria, looking at the terrain. But by God’s grace, we have been able to bridge that gap and made them understand the reason why they should come home.

  “Within the next two weeks, I am also going to see Mourinho, Pelegrini and Rogers for an agreement on Jordan Ibe, and Solanke in Liverpool and Chelsea respectively. 

  “If they do not want to come, we cannot do anything about it. It is not true that Chuba Akpom has decided that he would not play for Nigeria, he was not emphatic about rejecting Nigeria, but if he decides so, we cannot do anything about it. But I can assure you that a lot of them will play for Nigeria.

  “That does not mean that we are undermining what we have back home. We are building a new team that will have a marriage of our own home players and some of these young boys that are playing in the various top leagues abroad,” he disclosed.

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