Goal Nigeria profile six Super Eagles stars who could still move in January, adding to the growing number of players who have already switched clubs.
By Ed Dove
In the January transfer window to date, a number of Nigerian stars have already switched clubs and sealed moves.
Elderson Echiejile, the Super Eagles left-back, has been the subject of the most high-profile deal, with his switch from Braga to Monaco. AFCON hero Sunday Mba has finally received a transfer to Europe, to French side CA Bastia while another player who took part in that triumph, Fegor Ogude, is enjoying a fresh start at Amkar Perm, in the Russian top flight.
Kenneth Omeruo has secured a loan move to Championship side Middlesbrough in a bid to accrue playing time ahead of the World Cup, former international Yakubu Aiyegbeni has left Chinese side Guangzhou R&F to join Qatari club Al Rayyan, while prodigious youngster Kelechi Iheanacho has earned a dream move to Premier League side Manchester City.
This feature looks at some Nigerians who could still make a move before the window closes.
By the time you read this, Peter Odemwingie will likely be confirmed as a Stoke City player. The former West Bromwich Albion striker moved to Cardiff City in the summer, but has largely struggled to make the impact that some expected.
With incoming boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer keen to populate the squad with figures he trusts—including some of his own signings—and it seems that the Nigerian is surplus to requirements.
A swap deal has been arranged with Stoke City, with powerful forward Kenwyne Jones moving in the other direction. The Caribbean striker is another who could benefit from a change of scene.
Defensive midfielder Ogenyi Onazi has been the subject of much attention during this window, unsurprising, perhaps, when one considers his fine performances over the last 12 months.
The majority of the attention has come from Merseyside, where two EPL sides, Everton and Liverpool, appear to by vying for the Lazio man’s attentions.
In the player’s eyes, the Reds appear to be the preferable option, but the Blues have been the more proactive suitors. Goal reported last week that Everton have tabled a bid.
Early in January, Supersport reported that Nigerian forward Ideye Brown was looking to leave Dynamo Kyiv and seek his fortunes elsewhere.
With less than a week of the window to go, Ideye hasn’t gone anywhere, and you would have to surmise that he will likely remain a Dynamo man beyond the end of the window.
The striker has endured a frustrating year with the national side and has begun to slip from the forefront of Stephen Keshi’s plans, perhaps a move away could help him propel himself back into the manager’s thoughts.
Turkish website Fanatik.comrevealed at the end of December that Cardiff City were keen to add Joseph Yobo to their ranks.
The defender is another who has struggled to earn sufficient on-field minutes to convince Stephen Keshi of his worth. It has been almost a year since Yobo was last invited to represent the Super Eagles, and unless there is a significant up-turn in his playing time, he can forget about adding to his 95 caps.
Cardiff possess an outstanding defender in Steven Caulker, the former-Spurs defender and England international, but the presence of Yobo alongside him could well bolster the relegation-threatened club. The Nigerian enjoyed eight years in the Premier League with Everton and would be a valuable asset to Solskjaer.
At the end of 2013, Bright Dike was linked with a switch to Scottish giants Celtic. The forward has the power and presence to thrive in Europe and would surely benefit from the Buoys’ regular appearances in the Champions League.
The Glasgow club have also opted to turn to Nigerians in the past; Efe Ambrose has been at the club since 2012 while Rabiu Ibrahim also enjoyed a recent (unhappy) spell at the club.
The recent acquisitions of Jermain Defoe and Gilberto have raised serious doubts about Dike’s long-term future at Toronto FC. A move to Celtic would likely benefit all parties involved.
According to Italian paper Gazzetta dello Sport, Italian side Parma are interested in Lokomotiv Moscow forward Victor Obinna. The versatile forward has enjoyed a renaissance of late and has been recalled to the Super Eagles as Stephen Keshi hunts for goal-scoring forwards.
His goal against Ethiopia in Calabar has put him in a prime position to seal a spot in the Nigeria squad at the World Cup.
Beyond Parma, Italian side Chievo and Spanish team Celta Vigo have also been linked with Obinna, but the player himself has indicated that he would be delighted to return to the Premier League, and specifically, West Ham United, where he enjoyed a brief spell back in 2010-11.