Ten Nigerian players likely to move this summer transfer window

Victor Osimhen of Napoli celebrates after opening his goals account in Napoli's 4-0 drubbing of Torino at the Stadio Olimpico di Torino. Photo: AFP

Leicester City unveil new signing Wilfred Ndidi at the King Power Stadium on January 05 , 2017 in Leicester. Photo by Leicester City FC

The summer transfer window for the year 2023 is already on with a host of top European clubs such as Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain striking some major deals.
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While clubs are looking to bolster their squads, players seeking new challenges and their agents are working tirelessly to seal deals. Nigerian footballers are not left out of the frenzy.

The Guardian’s OLUYEMI OGUNSEYIN highlights ten Nigerian players who are likely to move from their current clubs this summer transfer window.

Victor Osimhen (Napoli, Italy)

Victor Osimhen spreads his arms wide in celebration of a Napoli title victory …on Thursday. Photo: BBCSports

It is looking likely that Victor Osimhen will make a move this summer but the question is which team will the Super Eagles striker join if he eventually leaves Napoli.

Osimhen has been linked to a plethora of clubs ranging from Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain. It is no surprise that the fourth most valuable player in the world with a market value of €120m is wanted this much.

The Nigerian international’s 26 goals and five assists in 32 Serie A appearances during the 2022/23 season helped Napoli clinch their very first Scudetto in 33-years (Since 1990).

The 24-year-old contributed a further five goals in the UEFA Champions League, taking his tally for the just-concluded campaign to 31 goals in 39 matches across all competitions.

A deal for Osimhen this summer is likely to be complicated due to Napoli president, Aurelio De Laurentiis valuation of the Nigerian in the region of €180m.

The forward penned a five-year deal in Naples upon his arrival from Lille in 2020, so his current contract has two years remaining, placing the Serie A champions in a strong position of negotiation with any suitor for Osimhen.

Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal, Spain)

Samuel Chukwueze is one of the hottest prospects in the Spanish La Liga.

Samuel Chukwueze’s days at the Estadio de La Ceramica where he plays for Villarreal of Spain appear to be numbered after being strongly linked with a summer transfer to AC Milan.

Milan chief coach, Stefano Pioli, has personally called Chukwueze as regards the Super Eagles attacker making a summer move to the Serie A outfit, according to Sky Sports Italy.

Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that Chukwueze had emerged as the favorite candidate to become Milan’s new right winger from next season.

This is despite the Rossoneri board moving forward in their pursuit of Chelsea winger, Christian Pulisic who may join the club to play on the right wing of the attack.

There have been speculations suggesting that Milan want to sign both wingers but Thursday’s report from La Gazzetta dello Sport said that Chukwueze is the favorite at the moment.

Milan boss, Pioli reportedly reached out to Chukwueze in an effort for the club to land the signature of the talented Nigerian international.

He is expected to cost Milan somewhere between €25 million and €30m and given Chukwueze only has one year to go on his contract, there should be a desire from Villarreal to sell.

The former Nigerian U-17 World Cup winner had an unprecedented season for Villarreal in the 2022/23 term which also turned out to be his most productive for the Yellow Submarine.

After the 24-year-old scored 13 goals and provided a further 11 assists, he helped Villarreal to a fifth placed finish, thereby booking a place in next season’s UEFA Europa League.

Gift Orban (Gent, Belgium)

Gent’s Gift Emmanuel Orban celebrates after scoring during a soccer game between Turkish Istanbul Basaksehir FK and Belgian KAA Gent in Istanbul, Turkey, in the round of 16 of the UEFA Europa Conference League. Photo: AFP

Gift Orban is another Nigerian player who is likely to move this summer, having had a good campaign with KAA Gent of Belgium in the second half of the 2022/23 season.

LOSC Lille of France have set their sights on Orban and Folarin Balogun as a like-for-like replacement for Canadian international striker, Jonathan David who could leave soon.

David is widely tipped to make his departure from Lille this summer and reports indicate that his direct replacement could well be either Balogun of Arsenal or Nigeria’s Orban.

Orban was the highest scoring Nigerian in Europe during the 2022/23 season after scoring a total of 38 goals in 45 games for Stabaek of Norway and Gent in Belgium.

He had scored 18 goals in 23 matches across all competitions for Stabaek before departing the Norwegian league club for Belgian First Division A club, Gent in the winter transfer window.

The explosive Orban scored 15 goals in 16 league matches since joining Gent only in January. The 20-year-old also scored 20 goals in 22 games in all competitions for Gent.

He scored six goals in four play-off games and bagged nine goals in the regular league season. Also in last season’s UEFA Europa Conference League, Orban had five goals in six games.

The Gent striker is now the most valuable player in Belgium after reaching a career-high market value of 20 million euros, according to the official Transfer Markt site.

Bright Osayi-Samuel (Fenerbahce, Turkey)

LISBON, PORTUGAL – NOVEMBER 17: Bright Osayi-Samuel of Nigeria competes for the ball with Nuno Mendes of Portugal during the friendly match between Portugal and Nigeria at Estadio Jose Alvalade on November 17, 2022 in Lisbon, Portugal. (Photo by Jose Manuel Alvarez/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)

Bright Osayi-Samuel recently revealed that it has always been his dream to play in the Premier League amid summer transfer links with several clubs from England such as Bournemouth, Brentford and Fulham.

Osayi-Samuel has done well for himself since joining Fenerbahce from Queens Park Rangers in 2021 which has also seen him become a regular starter for the Super Eagles.

However, the 25-year-old is now ready to head back to England where the trio of Premier League club-sides, Bournemouth, Brentford and Fulham are keen to land his signature this very summer.

“I am just focused on what I have to be focused on as I still have two years on my contract at Fenerbahce. I think that the whole of my club and most people in Turkey know that my ambition is to play in the Premier League,” he said.

“And I do feel homesick but like I said, if it’s not the right time or the right team, then I don’t have no stress about staying at Fenerbahce because the club has done so much for me and I am happy being there.”

When quizzed further on whether he would love to see out the remainder of his contract at Fenerbahce which will expire during the summer transfer window of the year 2025, Osayi-Samuel said “of course not”.

“Of course, if I have the chance to play in the Premier League, then I will take it because that has always been my dream. You know, so I am just waiting, I am relaxed and focused on where I am now.”

Emmanuel Dennis (Nottingham Forest, England)

Emmanuel Dennis of Nottingham during the Premier League match between Nottingham Forest and Wolverhampton Wanderers at City Ground on April 01, 2023 in Nottingham, England. (Photo: AFP)

Emmanuel Dennis might after all get to make his third consecutive summer move before the end of the current transfer window with reports linking the forward with an exit from Nottingham Forest.

Leeds United are preparing to make a first bid for the Nottingham Forest forward as they prepare for life in the SkyBet Championship, according to Nottingham Forest News.

It is stated that Dennis is on Leeds ‘list of primary targets’ this summer as they seek a new attacker as Patrick Bamford struggled last season and Rodrigo may well be on the move following their relegation.

The Whites will need a couple of new attackers to really have a go at promotion and Dennis may well be given an escape route to Leeds this summer after he fell out of favour under Forest manager, Steve Cooper.

Forest pounced to land Dennis in a £20million swoop last summer following Watford’s relegation to the Championship. Recall he had impressed for the Hornets, bagging 10 goals and six assists in 33 EPL appearances in 2021/22.

The hope was that Dennis would be able to replicate those numbers for Forest but it just didn’t happen. Dennis managed just six league starts last season and just 715 Premier League minutes in total.

Victor Boniface (Union SG, Belgium)

Victor Boniface of Royale Union Saint-Gilloise controls the ball during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 match between Royale Union Saint-Gilloise and 1. FC Union Berlin at the Anderlecht Stadium on March 16, 2023 in Brussels, Belgium (Photo: AFP)

Another Victor is here. But this time, Boniface his surname. He is also likely to move this summer following his truly impressive campaign in the colours of Union SG of Belgium.

Boniface who emerged as the top scorer in the Europa League for the 2022-23 season with six goals earned a spot in the Team of the Season, a well-deserved recognition for his remarkable performance.

He made a splash in his debut season in Belgium, having had a direct hand in an impressive 29 goals (17 goals, 12 assists) in 51 appearances across all competitions for USG.

Before the Super Eagles hopeful, however, made a move to USG in the summer transfer window of last year, he had actually hit the net five times in four matches for Bodo/Glimt also in the 2022/23 season.

This young talent is destined for greatness and his journey could begin by leaving Union SG for any of AC Milan, Lazio, and Napoli have expressed interest but RB Leipzig appears to be an attractive destination.

Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England)

Manchester City’s Nathan Ake (left) tackles Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho during an EPL game.

Kelechi Iheanacho has also been linked with a summer transfer with reports saying that Nottingham Forest have made plans to hold further talks with the Nigerian forward.

If completed, the Leicester City attacker will be joining his fellow Nigerian compatriots, Taiwo Awoniyi and Emmanuel Dennis at Forest this summer, according to Talk Forest TV.

“Nottingham Forest held preliminary talks with Leicester City striker, Kelechi Iheanacho last week with more talks set for this week.” Talk Forest TV tweeted per the72.

Iheanacho emerged Leicester’s Player Of The Season for the 2022/23 Premier League campaign, becoming the first Nigerian to win the award despite the club suffering relegation from the EPL.

The Super Eagles attacker did well for himself last season as he bagged five goals and five assists in 28 Premier League appearances despite playing the major part of the season as a substitute.

He also struck the back of the net on three occasions in as many FA Cup matches, taking his total to eight goals across all competitions for the now-relegated Foxes.

If the latest report is anything to go by, Iheanacho could still find himself playing in the Premier League during the 2023/24 season – most likely with Forest.

Kenneth Omeruo (Leganés, Spain)

Kenneth Omeruo is set for permanent deal with Laliga’s Leganes.

Super Eagles central defender, Kenneth Omeruo has been reportedly linked with a summer exit from Spanish La Liga SmartBank club-side, CD Leganés.

According to Spanish daily sports newspaper, Diario AS, Leganés are looking to cash in on Omeruo who happens to be the club’s substantive captain.

“Leganés would not mind selling Kenneth Omeruo this summer as that would allow them to make some money and save his high salary,” Diario AS wrote.

“The player wouldn’t mind going out either.” Omeruo has one-year left on his contract at Leganes with the asking price suggested to be one million euros.

According to Diario AS, that is the amount left to be paid to Chelsea who sold Omeruo to Leganés for a fee of five million euros four years ago.

Josh Maja (Bordeaux, France)

Fulham’s Nigerian striker Josh Maja (C) vies for the ball against Everton’s Portuguese midfielder Andre Gomes (R) during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Fulham at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England on February 14, 2021. (Photo by Michael Regan / POOL / AFP)

Josh Maja is also on the 2023 summer transfer radar with the likes of Anderlecht of Belgium and Real Valladolid of Spain set to rival Glasgow Rangers for his signature.

The former Sunderland striker is available on a free transfer with his Bordeaux contract, having expired June ending and Maja not planning on sticking around in the south of France.

The Gers have been linked with the 24-year-old as manager, Michael Beale looks to boost his striking options despite having already agreed a move for Cyriel Dessers of Cremonese.

Beale is keeping his options open though and Maja would represent a cheaper option and a deal may be easier to do.

However, Anderlecht are reportedly back in for him after initially sniffing around two years ago, according to Voetbal Nieuws.

Valladolid are also in the hunt but Rangers would likely be the most attractive option for Maja with the carrot of European football on offer and the potential to play in the Champions League group stage.

Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England)

Leicester City unveil new signing Wilfred Ndidi at the King Power Stadium on January 05 , 2017 in Leicester. Photo by Leicester City FC

Leicester City’s disappointing season resulted in their relegation from the English Premier League and for Wilfred Ndidi, this presents a crucial decision.

While Saudi Arabian clubs have reportedly offered tempting deals, the tough-tackling defensive midfielder still has more to offer in Europe.

Galatasaray’s interest presents a sensible move for Ndidi, especially as the Yellow-Blacks are the newly crowned Turkish Super Lig champions.

A return to the UEFA Champions League stage would provide the platform for Ndidi to showcase his talents and rediscover his brilliant form.

Ndidi’s loss of form, however, played a huge role in the Leicester and Super Eagles defensive midfielder suffering a drop in his transfer market value over time.

To show how bad it is, there was a particular time Ndidi was the most valuable Nigerian player even ahead of Napoli striker, Victor Osimhen who is now number four in the world.

He was valued at €60 million back then while Osimhen’s monetary valuation was €50m but while the latter’s has soared by €70m to a staggering €120m, Ndidi’s has suffered a huge dip.

Valued at €60m as at June 15, 2022, Ndidi has lost €35m in market value as he is now worth only €25m, interpreting an almost 60 percent loss in value in a little above one year.
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