Michael Olunga’s rise at Girona is further worry for Kayode Olarenwaju

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The Kenyan has seen his stock rise in recent weeks, which isn’t good news for his underperforming Nigerian teammate


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A full summer has passed since Olarenwaju Kayode made a surprise move from Austria Vienna to current Premier League leaders Manchester City before going on loan to newly promoted Spanish side Girona.

Now in winter, and with 20 Primera Division games played, the 24-year old has still not made his mark in La Liga.

 

 

Yes LK18 is Back...God made it happen Larry keep going #Lk18 

A post shared by Larry Kayode (@larry_kayode_8_) on

He has played 12 league games, of which just two were starts, and is yet to find the back of the net. While Cristhian Stuani is the number one forward and top scorer at the club with 10 goals in 17 games, the Uruguayan international has had a little spell on the sidelines and also faced suspension.

These were the occasions when Kayode was supposed to show the form that saw him bang in 17 Austrian Bundesliga goals last term. However, he has been a shadow of himself, with his only meaningful contribution coming when Girona won at Deportivo La Coruna on October 23, 2017, making two assists in the 2-1 victory.

Kayode Olarenwaju PS

Although he won the Man of Match award and was named in the team of the week, he failed to muster a single shot on target in that game, and certainly failed to convince that he could replace the freescoring Stuani.

Kayode’s chances have now been further blighted by the emergence of Michael Olunga. The Kenyan was a deadline=day loan signing from Chinese Super League outfit Ghuizhou Zhicheng, becoming only the second Kenyan to play in the Spanish top flight after McDonald Mariga.

The forward failed to nail a regular starting berth in the first team after his big money move from Swedish club Djurgardens IF, so the temporary move to Spain was supposed to be a fresh start he was going to have to face stiff competition from Stuani and Kayode.

Olunga hasn't found the going easy, only making six La Liga starts, of which only two were starts. However, worryingly for the Nigerian, he's already made a bigger impact than Kayode.

The former Gor Mahia man wrote his name in the history books when he came off the bench – in place for the injured Stuani, and bagged a fantastic hat-trick in Girona’s 6-0 bashing of La Palmas a fortnight ago.

He also laid an assist for Cristian Portu.

Olunga became the first Kenyan to score in the Spanish top flight and first player to hit a La Liga hat-trick for Girona. So much was the joy of the feat that Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta took to social media to congratulate the 23-year old.

The attacker started for only the second time at the weekend when Girona were away at Atletico Madrid. Though he didn’t find the net, he played for the entire 90 minutes while Kayode was confined to the bench all through as the Blanquivermell earned an impressive 1-1 draw and remain seated in the top half of the log.

Girona have churned out a lot of impressive results in their maiden top-flight campaign, despite the impotence of Kayode, who's a shadow of the player who won so many admirers in Austria.

Michael Olunga PS

Olunga has played just 226 minutes of football and for him to get three goals and an assist in such short space compared to Kayode’s 375 minutes with only two assists to show is a damning indictment on the Nigerian.

Kayode was supposed to be a big addition for Pablo Machin’s side, but clearly his standing is only dimishing at Girona.

For the player, his decision to come to Spain looks likely to cost him a spot in Nigeria's World Cup squad, with the forward doing almost nothing to date to suggest that he deserves a spot in Gernot Rohr's selection.

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Obafemi Martins of Shanghai Shenhua

At this point, the German tactician would be wise to go for a player like Obafemi Martins – who hasn’t seen national team action since November 2015, but is understood to be on the coach's radar after impressing in China - rather than Kayode.

Olunga's emergence in Spain ought to be celebrated in East Africa, but for Nigerians, and for Kayode, it only underlines just how the attacker's momentum has stalled after his fine campaign last term.

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