Top Six: Ranking Nigeria’s best players in Europe’s biggest leagues 2018-19

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Which of the nation’s top stars in Europe’s most high-profile divisions impressed this season?

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    #6 Henry Onyekuru

    Onyekuru has bounced back from his injury-hit 2017-18 season in some style in the Super Lig, where he’s been a key threat for title-hunting Galatasaray.

    The Everton loanee has scored 13 goals, contributing three assists, and firmly earned himself a place in Gernot Rohr’s squad for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations.

    Admittedly, the former Anderlecht man’s form can be patchy—he only scored twice between the end of August and the end of December—but he’s ending the season in fine fettle.

    When Onyekuru is on song, few defences in the Super Lig can cope with him.

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    #5 Sly

    Consistently overlooked by Nigerian selectors since being given some playing time under Sunday Oliseh, should Igboun have been considered by Rohr for the upcoming Nations Cup?

    He has nine goals in 25 outings for FC Ufa so far this season, and is the fourth most effective dribbler in the Russian top flight.

    His versatility could also have been an asset for the Super Eagles, with the attacker playing in a variety of different roles as the Townspeople have battled manfully against relegation from the Russian Premier League.

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    #4 Anthony Nwakaeme

    Like Sly, Nwakaeme can feel particularly hard done by after being overlooked for Nigeria’s 2019 Afcon squad.

    He’s enjoyed a magnificent campaign with Turkish giants Trabzonspor, making 18 decisive contributions—including 10 goals—across 25 appearances.

    For context, only three other players in the division have had a direct hand in more goals during the campaign, and the 30-year-old is firmly ending the campaign on a high.

    In his last 13 matches in all competitions, he’s scored seven and contributed five assists.

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    #3 Samuel Chukwueze

    What a year it’s been for Samuel Chukwueze, who’s announced himself as the next great hope of the Nigerian game.

    For a 19-year-old, in his first full campaign in a major European league, his five goals and two assists for Villarreal represent an admirable return as he’s pulled the Yellow Submarine clear of the dropzone.

    He only made his full league debut in November, the same month as he made his Super Eagles bow—against Uganda—and was named the Nigeria Football Federation’s Young Player of the Year in April.

    The wonderkid has been named in Gernot Rohr’s provisional squad for the 2019 Nations Cup, despite having been rumoured to be taking part in the U-20 World Cup.

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    #2 Tammy Abraham

    The Chelsea forward may have snubbed Nigeria in favour of England, but after only making two appearances for the Three Lions in 2017—both in friendlies—he remains eligible for the Super Eagles.

    He struggled in the Premier League with Swansea City last term, but after dropping back into the Championship with Aston Villa on loan, he’s rediscovered the form that earned him such plaudits during his time with Bristol City.

    Despite dealing with a few injury concerns, Abraham has scored 26 goals en route to the playoff final, and also bagged the decisive penalty in the semi-final shootout against West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday.

    Abraham was linked with a midseason move to Wolverhampton Wanderers, and he appears certain—one way or another—to get a shot at the Premier League next term.

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    #1 Wilfred Ndidi

    Ndidi continues to be underrated despite another fine campaign in the Premier League, he’s second only to Idrissa Gueye–who was unfortunate to miss out here—in terms of tackles per game, and has been a consistently commanding presence in the heart of the Leicester City midfield.

    If he remains at the club—and there are rumours that he’ll move higher up the food chain—then he could be the key building block upon which Brendan Rodgers constructs his exciting new, young Leicester side.

    The midfield anchor will also be a key man for Nigeria at this summer’s Nations Cup, as they look to clinch a fourth title.