Players that excite will always bring joy to fans that pay to see them play. After all, this is why football is called the beautiful game.
However, talents like Sone Aluko are a dying breed, a sign of the times, unfortunately.
In modern football, the obscene infatuation with winning and not losing has overshadowed what made the sport so popular—entertainment. Technicians like Aluko are now being overlooked for more efficient and hardworking players, and there was little surprise when the forward was released by Hull City last summer, days after the club gained promotion to the Premier League.
Surely the wing wizard could have had an impact in the EPL, although, having scored only three in 31—and with injuries affecting his progress on Humberside—maybe it was completely understandable that his four years in East Yorkshire ended when they did.
He was subsequently snapped up by Fulham on a free transfer—amidst interest from a plethora of clubs— and has enjoyed a renaissance this season with a series of breathtaking performances for the Cottagers.
Under Slavisa Jokanovic, the former Rangers man is reborn and enjoying his football again.
At his best, the attacker is unplayable, and his ability to wriggle his way around defenders with ease makes him a joy to watch.
In the last two seasons, the West London club finished 17th and 20th in the Championship, but this season they’re in eighth and pushing for the play-offs. It’s simplistic to put Fulham’s resurgence all down to the signing of the ex-Tiger, but one can’t deny he’s been a key cog in their revival.
So good was he in the first half of the season that he was voted the Sky Bet Championship Player of the Month for October, a reward for dazzling the second tier of English football with his creativity and intelligence. He’s also been nominated for Football League Player of the Year in the London Football Awards slated to be held next month.
The talent of the Hounslow-born attacker has never been in question, but his consistency levels have. Blighted by injuries no more, he seems to be back on his feet and playing strictly out of the top drawer. To date, 27-year-old Aluko has four goals and five assists in 30 Championship outings, his best overall contribution since the 2012-13 season.
However, despite his resurgence, Aluko hasn’t been called-up to the Nigeria squad since the appointment of Gernot Rohr to join the Eagles’ revolution, even though he’s been in a rich vein of form. The Super Eagles could do with someone with his composure and class on the ball, a player whose link-up play is top notch and has the ability to play in tight spaces.
The former Aberdeen man last donned the green of the three-time African champions in a friendly against South Africa way back in March 2015, and surely the time is right for him to end his two-year exile from the national side.
Able to play on both flanks, in the hole and off the front-man, his versatility would greatly benefit the Super Eagles and the German tactician must surely have the attacker in his sights. Also, at 27, the former Birmingham player is still in his prime and has so much to offer if he’s recalled, while he offers the kind of experience that may be lacking for many of Rohr’s ‘New Generation’.
With Fulham set to host Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup 5th Round at Craven Cottage this weekend, in what looks set to be a mouthwatering London derby, the spotlight will be on Aluko as he seeks to prove himself to Rohr in a prestige contest.
With the spotlight being back on Craven Cottage, the match represents an ideal opportunity for Aluko to make an impact, but irrespective of his performance against high-flying Spurs, he’s been in top form for months and has done enough to justify a recall.
While Fulham have been beneficiaries of the wideman’s resurgence, could the Super Eagles also exploit his return to prominence?