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Ranking Chukwueze, Osimhen & Nigeria’s top wonderkids

04:12 GMT+3 20/12/2019
Victor Osimhen Nigeria 2019
As a fascinating year for Nigerian football draws to a close, Ed Dove ranks the Super Eagles’ top starlets in the game today

  • Samuel Chukwueze - Nigeria vs. South Africa

    Nigeria's next generation

    We are in the midst of a golden era for young Nigerian talent, as while the U-17 side fell short at the World Cup, Gernot Rohr has introduced a new group of fresh faces into the senior squad.

    Under the German coach, the complexion of the Super Eagles has been transformed, and several youngsters were critical to the West Africans’ run to the semi-final at the Africa Cup of Nations.

    As we approach 2020, Ed Dove profiles Nigeria’s five most exciting wonderkids—aged 21 or under—in the game today, with all of these starlets boasting the potential to be key figures for the national side for a decade to come.

  • Genk's Stephen Odey, 2019

    Stephen Odey

    While Paul Onuachu has been flying in Belgium with Genk this season, Odey hasn’t yet made his mark to the same degree under Hannes Wolf, having signed from FC Zurich earlier this year.

    The former MFM FC man did impress in the Champions League earlier this season—albeit briefly—when he netted in the Belgian side’s 4-1 defeat by Liverpool.

    Odey also scored in the Belgian Cup against Ronse in September, and it will be fascinating to see how he progresses over the coming 12 months. 

    It would be a surprise if this talented attacker doesn’t add to his handful of Nigeria appearances to date in 2020.

  • Josh Maja

    Josh Maja

    Maja may well have had a few reservations that he’d made the right decision to swap Sunderland for Girondins de Bordeaux in the summer when, six months after moving to France, he’d managed just three starts and one goal in Ligue 1.

    Almost a year after his arrival in Aquitaine, however, and it’s a very different story, with Maja steadily adapting to life in the French top tier.

    He’s already made 16 appearances (out of a possible 18) so far this term, and has scored five during an encouraging start to the season—the Bordelais currently find themselves in seventh.

    Maja made his Nigeria debut in September, and ought to establish himself as a squad regular over the year to come.

  • Eberechi Eze - QPR

    Eberechi Eze

    There are several excellent Nigerian talents plying their trade in England’s lower leagues, with Bright Osayi-Samuel and Bright Enobakhare two standout examples.

    However, it’s 21-year-old Eze of Queens Park Rangers who makes the cut here, following his excellent exploits already this term.

    As the Championship season heads towards Christmas, Eze has arguably been the division’s standout player, scoring nine goals and contributing four assists during an excellent start to the season.

    The versatile midfielder is yet to make his Super Eagles debut, but don’t be surprised if he’s a key man for the national side in 12 months’ time.

  • Samuel Chukwueze Nigeria 2019

    Samuel Chukwueze

    In truth, 2018 was Chukwueze’s breakout calendar year, and 2019 has been a year of consolidation…and of fuelling expectation.

    The wideman made his Nigeria debut in November 2018, earned himself a spot in the Afcon squad half a year later, and excelled in Egypt—troubling full-backs aplenty and scoring in the quarter-final victory over South Africa.

    At club level, with Villarreal, he continues to be one of Nigeria’s most prominent performers in a major European league—despite only being 20—and is currently in the Top 15 in the Spanish top flight for completed dribbles per match.

  • Victor Osimhen

    Victor Osimhen

    Osimhen has been the Nigerian revelation of the 2019-20 season so far, adapting seamlessly—and instantly—to life at LOSC Lille after moving to France as Nicolas Pepe’s replacement.
    He won’t match the Arsenal new boy’s return of 22 goals and 11 assists last term, but nine goals in 17 league outings so far demonstrates his excellent form at the start of the campaign.

    Osimhen has also overcome a goalless spell—something that will give him confidence for the future—and has broken his duck in the Champions League, scoring two in five group-stage games.

    At international level, he opened his Nigeria account against Ukraine in September, and has emerged as the natural replacement for Odion Ighalo.