By Emmanuel Okogba
Nigeria has always had presence in the Premier League. From Efan Ekoku to the latest addition, Joe Aribo, the Super Eagles representation in the most watched league has remained one of the many reasons Nigerians look forward to the resumption of hostilities every August/September.
The Super Eagles had eight (8) players plying their trade in the Premier League last season, but with Watford that had three Nigerians getting relegated and the imminent exit of Leicester City’s Ademola Lookman, reconciled with the arrival of Taiwo Awoniyi and Joe Aribo from Union Berlin and Rangers respectively, the new number is six.
So how are the six Super Eagles players preparing for the new season?
Joe Aribo (Southampton)
Aribo introduced himself to Southampton fans with an astonishing goal, dribbling past a sea of legs to score what can only be compared to a trademark Maradona or Messi goal, even though they went on to lose. The midfielder joined from UEFA Europa League finalists, Rangers and will expectedly get his first taste of action when they travel to face Tottenham Hotspur.
Watch Aribo’s goal below…
Taiwo Awoniyi (Nottingham Forest)
Awoniyi comes to the Premier League on the back of a fantastic season in the Bundesliga with Union Berlin and joins up with newboys Nottingham Forest. The club will expect Awoniyi to justify the record £17.5m fee that was paid for his services. Nottingham Forest opens their Premier League campaign against Newcastle United.
Alex Iwobi (Everton)
Iwobi played a key role in ensuring that Everton survived relegation last season and has become crucial in Frank Lampard’s plan heading into the 2022/23 season. Iwobi’s two goals contribution helped lighten the burden on the Toffees boss. They begin their campaign against Chelsea who they defeated 1-0 as they battled relegation last season.
Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City)
Although he could not replicate his form from the 2020/21 season where he finished with 12 goals, Iheanacho remains a key member of Brendan Rodgers’ squad. The fact that Leicester City has been quiet in the transfer market means Iheanacho has a lesser battle to fight for game time. He has Patson Daka, Ayoze Perez and Jamie Vardy as competitors for a starting role.
Frank Onyeka (Brentford)
Onyeka did not live up to the hype that came with his entrance into the Premier League and even got relegated to substitute roles after his first few games with Brentford. The hard tackling midfielder will have to outperform the likes of Christian Nørgaard and Vitaly Janelt to play regularly. The exit of Christian Eriksen could also give a boost to his chances.
Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City)
The midfield enforcer had a difficult 2021/22 campaign plagued with a long-term knee injury that ruled him out of the concluding part of Leicester City’s season and also Nigeria’s World Cup play-off against Ghana. Ndidi is expected to return having shown signs of recovery and returning to training. Leicster City will open their league campaign against Brentford.