Ademola Lookman has been one of the biggest talking points on African Football HQ so far this season, with Malek Shafei and Ed Dove taking very different stances on the Anglo-Nigerian starlet.
There’s no doubt he had a point to prove when he arrived at Fulham on loan from RasenBallsport Leipzig at the start of the campaign.
While the Bundesliga upstarts enjoyed a successful season last time out—looking like title outsiders for much of the year and also enjoying a long run in the Champions League—Lookman was a peripheral figure throughout.
His move to Germany was meant to be a fresh start; the youngster had failed to make the breakthrough at Everton—only being used in fits and starts under Marco Silva—and a return to the Bundesliga made sense.
After all, Lookman had enjoyed some success in Germany earlier in his career—while on loan at Leipzig—and has rarely demonstrated that form since that temporary spell in the Bundesliga.
Moving to Fulham was a gamble, the Cottagers were almost everyone’s favourites to go down, but Lookman had the opportunity to prove he could be a difference-maker in the top flight.
His early successes—the fine strike against Sheffield United—was utterly undermined by his miserable outing against West Ham United, when he took one of the weakest penalty kicks you’re ever likely to see.
Lookman’s panenka fail threatened to define his career, as the youngster’s shocker cost Fulham a point and prompted an angry response from the usually mild-mannered Scott Parker.
The ex-England midfielder urged Lookman to learn from his errors and bounce back stronger, while the young forward took responsibility for his moment of madness and make amends moving forward.
Since then, he’s been in excellent form; scoring in defeat against his former club Everton, and then opening the scoring on Monday as Leicester City were dispatched.
It’s done enough to earn the respect of some portions of the Fulham fanbase, and while he may not be entirely redeemed just yet, he’s at least offering hope that the Londoners can beat the drop.
Admittedly, they may come crashing back down to earth against Manchester City on Saturday, but with Lookman on song, they at least have hope of beating the drop.