By Ed Dove
Following a summer typically riddled with speculation and rumour, the deadline for transfers has finally passed. A number of Nigerian stars have been the subject of expensive deals and intriguing career moves, many of those to have confirmed deals are likely to experience a major change of pace over the coming months.
This piece examines some of those moves and begins to explore some of the advantages and disadvantages for our boys beginning new lives across Europe.
Perhaps the key transfer involving a Nigerian player is Victor Moses’s season-long loan switch from Chelsea to Liverpool. Following Jose Mourinho’s expensive acquisitions of Samuel Eto’o and Willian, I wrote an article last week fearing the worst for the Nigerian at Stamford Bridge.
At the close of that piece, I recommended that Moses push for a switch away from West London, fearing that his first team opportunities would be limited alongside the massed ranks of creative, attacking talent at the club.
Things since then couldn’t have gone much better for the young Nigerian. As I explored in an editorial published yesterday, I suspect the transfer will benefit player, club and national side—Moses joins a “club on the up” and should thrive alongside a crop of terrific attacking players at Anfield.
Elsewhere in the Premier League, Peter Odemwingie has finally brought an end to his West Bromwich Albion nightmare. Despite occasional efforts on Steve Clarke’s behalf to reintegrate the Nigerian back into the first team following his much maligned decision to drive himself to Queens Park Rangers in order to push through a deal, he has finally departed.
Odemwingie finally departs WBA, The good times ended long ago
Ever since the QPR incident, it has always looked likely that Odemwingie would need to leave the Hawthorns to enjoy first team football. After a long wait, he has signed for newly-promoted Cardiff City—the side will be seeking to simply retain their Premier League status this term and as one of the squad’s eldest and most experienced players, Odemwingie will doubtless be called upon to provide goals and inspiration for the team.
CCFC boss Malky Mackay will surely hope that Peter has put all of the silly business behind him, while former Nigeria forward Victor Ikpeba asked on Twitter whether the move could prompt a return to national team action.
The final intra-Premier League transfer to involve a Nigerian superstar is Victor Anichebe's move to West Bromwich Albion.
Two key figures from Nigeria’s Cup of Nations victory will be looking for a change of fortunes in the French league system this season.
Following a hideously protracted transfer saga involving Nigerian sides Enugu Rangers and Warri Wolves, Sunday Mba is still unable to begin a European career as his plans to join Ligue 2 side CA Bastia fell through.
Enyeama thriving at Lille
On a personal note, Bastia is one of my favourite European cities and I thought Mba would have a delightful time with Cap Corse’s second club.
In France’s top flight, Vincent Enyeama returns to Lille following his loan stint at Maccabi Tel Aviv last season. The Nigerian stopper faces renewed competition for his place with the national side and will need a strong season in France to cement his place in Stephen Keshi’s affections. Les Dogues have only conceded two goals in their opening four Ligue 1 games, so it looks as though Enyeama may be enjoying a finer fortune at his second chance on the banks of the Deule.
One player leaving France is John Utaka. The former Portsmouth man has never been prolific, but his contributions during Montpellier’s recent league-winning campaign are unlikely to be forgotten anytime soon. His two seasons in France have now come to an end and the forward arrives at Sivasspor to join the extensive Nigerian contingent in Turkey.
I wrote recently about how the Turkish Super Lig has become the contemporary equivalent of the Belgian and Dutch leagues—once such fertile, verdant breeding grounds for young Nigerian talent.
Emmanuel Emenike once endured a very brief, very unhappy stint with Turkish giants Fenerbahce, but having enjoyed a prolific stay in Moscow, with Spartak, he is back with The Canaries in order to make up for lost time.
A switch in clubs, let alone nations, is always a risk in a World Cup year, where loss of form or confidence can have grave consequences.
Emenike heads back to Fenerbahce hoping for better things in Turkey
Others to head to Turkey include defender Godfrey Oboabona. The youngster was another linked with a number of major European clubs, only to have to settle for more modest confines. I wrote an extensive piece remarking that while Caykur Rizespor may not be the dream destination for the international, his move to the Super Lig could be an ideal stepping stone to the greater things he is surely destined for.
Taye Taiwo arrives at Bursaspor at a very different stage of his career. The Lagos-born full-back has featured for three clubs since leaving Marseille in 2011. He will be hoping that a move to Turkey can kick-start his international career. Despite the impressive performances of Elderson Echiejile, there remain calls to include Taiwo and his potent attacking arsenal in the Super Eagles squad.
Keshi will doubtless be keeping an eye on his many Turkish interests and it will be up to Taiwo to make an irrepressible case for World Cup inclusion.
In Italian football, the pair of Nnamdi Oduamadi and Joel Obi have both left their Milan homes to try and get some first team football. Oduamadi moves to Serie B side Brescia, a disappointment perhaps, considering Silvio Berlusconi’s stated post-Confederations Cup intention to involve him in first-team duties at Milan.
Joel Obi will hope that a sojourn at Parma will help him establish himself as a Serie A midfielder of genuine class. The key thing, surely, will be remaining injury free.
Finally, over in Holland, young Nigerian forward Uche Nwofor departs VVV-Venlo for a year on loan at SC Heerenveen. De Superfriezen were the club that handed the world Ruud van Nistlerooy, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Jon Dahl Tomasson. Keshi will be hoping that Nwofor, who impressed in the recent Mandela Challenge clash with South Africa, can follow in the footsteps of such illustrious frontmen.