Grading Nigeria’s movers during the January window

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Goal deliver our verdict on Nigeria’s big movers during the January transfer window.

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    #1 Isaac Success, Watford > Malaga, Loan

    Success needed a move desperately, so the fact that he got away from Watford alone must make this one a positive switch. A return to Spain also bodes well, after all, it was in La Liga that the youngster first made his name with Granada, netting seven across the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. However, it remains to be seen whether struggling Malaga is the right club for him. Grade: B
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    #2 Ideye Brown, Tianjin TEDA > Malaga, Loan

    Another Nigerian securing a switch to Malaga is Ideye, who will offer a more physical threat than his compatriot. Unlike Success, he hasn’t yet tasted life in Spain, but he’s adapted quickly enough to enough diverse environments to suggest that he can do so again. It’s another—and potentially final—shot at a major league for the 29-year-old. Grade: B
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    #3 Ahmed Musa, Leicester City > CSKA Moscow, Loan

    We’re giving Musa a slightly better grade for his return to CSKA, after all, he already knows Russian football and, chances are, that he’ll thrive back at Moscow. For him, more so than Success and Brown, a move—and subsequent regular football—should mean a World Cup berth. However, there’s no hiding the fact that, after flopping in England, this move represents a step back. Grade: A-
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    #4 Ademola Lookman, Everton > RasenBallsport Leipzig, Loan

    This move has gone through despite Everton’s best wishes, with the Toffees understood to be keen for the wonderkid to join Derby County only for the forward to insist on a switch to Germany. It’s a big ask for the 20-year-old to hit the ground running, and you fear that the Toffees may regret letting him go after the departure of Aaron Lennon. However, Leipzig have a proven track record for making superstars out of raw, young African talent…could Lookman be next? Grade: A-
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    #5 Elderson Echiejile, AS Monaco > Cercle Brugge, Loan

    Another window, another move, and another league for Elderson, who has joined Cercle in the Belgian second tier. You suspect the left-back will excel against lesser opponents, but still only 30, he should be in his prime and testing himself against the best. Is this really ideal preparation for a World Cup campaign? Grade: C
  6. AA

    #6 Shehu Abdullahi, Anorthosis Famagusta > Bursaspor

    A switch to the Turkish Super Lig is a definite upgrade for Shehu, although it doesn’t come without risk. He’ll have to adapt to a new country, and also see off competition from Baris Yardimci for a starting spot. Should Shehu fail with either of these objectives, he may jeopardise his spot in Nigeria’s World Cup 23, although long term, this one looks like the right move at the right time. Grade: B
  7. AA

    #7 Nosa Igiebor, Vancouver Whitecaps > Anorthosis Famagusta

    Arriving at Anorthosis as Shehu departs is Igiebor, who’s one of several journeymen featured in this list. The midfielder has fallen from favour, but after his experiences with clubs in Tel Aviv and Real Betis, he has the experience to be a big hit in Cyprus. Still only 27, an international recall isn’t impossible. Grade: B+
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    #8 Fred Friday, AZ Alkmaar > Sparta Rotterdam

    With just seven Eredivisie goals over a season and a half with AZ Alkmaar, Friday was in need a move. He duly got his wish, sealing a short term deal with Sparta Rotterdam. He’s yet to score in his first 262 minutes with his new club, but Sparta’s technical advisor Leo Beenhakker has spoken encouragingly of Friday’s acquisition—he knows talent when he sees it. Can Friday turn his fortunes around in the Netherlands? This one could go either way. Grade: B
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    #9 Emmanuel Emenike, Olympiakos > Las Palmas

    One of a cabal of Nigerian forwards to move to Spain on loan, Emenike had been linked with a move to Istanbul Basaksehir, but ultimately opted to move to La Liga, where he takes his first steps in Spanish football. It’s been several years since Emenike scored regularly, and he’ll hope to enjoy a renaissance in the Canary Islands. The example of Kevin-Prince Boateng demonstrates that this can be done, but it remains to be seen if Emenike can match that achievement. Grade: B-