Nigerian Players in LaLiga

Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal CF)

Chukwueze has been missing in action since he suffered a hip injury in the semifinal of the Europa League against Arsenal in May. Despite Yeremy Pina putting in a decent role as his deputy, the role of Chukwueze in Unai Emery’s squad has never been in doubt due to his quick feet and pace.

However, the lingering question will hover above his ability to hit the top gear after his return from this lengthy lay off as the Yellow Submarines seek another major silverware to complement their Europa League triumph last season.

 

Umar Sadiq (UD Almeria)

After a goal-laden 2020-21 campaign, Sadiq was expected to make a move to a relatively better club, but the Nigerian striker has chosen to spend at least another season with UD Almeria. The 24-year-old has wasted little time in hitting the ground running this season, returning a goal and an assist from three appearance.

Sadiq is undoubtedly Almeria’s biggest goal threat and the Nigerian international will prove pivotal to Almeria’s quest for promotion to Spain’s elite division at the end of this season.

 

Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes)

Leganes are enduring a horrid start to the season, winless in their first three games, but Omeruo has been one of the shinning lights at the club. The Nigerian defender, in his fourth season with Leganes, was part of the defensive unit that proved highly supportive to the club’s nearly successful 2020-21 campaign that ended with a disappointing defeat to Rayo Vallecano in the La Liga promotion play off.

 

Omeruo has continued to remain a mainstay in Leganes’ defensive set up and has made more tackles than any of his teammates, while only Luis Perea has won more duels than him after three games this season. Indeed, he has enjoyed a decent start to the 2021-22 season, but this needs to rub off on the entire team if Leganes is to gain promotion to La Liga this time.

 

Kelechi Nwakali (SD Huesca)

A successful loan spell at Alcorcon, during the second half of last season, has undeniably breathed fresh air to the career of Nwakali. SD Huesca have won two of their three matches this season, and it is not surprising that these were the two games in which the Nigerian midfielder has featured.

The former Nigerian U-17 international is into the final year of his contract with Huesca. Hence, this is expected to be a career-defining campaign for Nwakali who looks hungry to live up to the promises that earned him the golden ball award at the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile.

 

James Igbekeme (Real Zaragoza)

Igbekeme is not a household name in Nigerian football sphere but the left footed midfielder is steel in the heart of Zaragoza’s midfield. The 26-year-old is into the fourth season of the five-year contract he signed when he joined from Portuguese club Gil Vicente in July 2018.

Igbekeme is a fine blend of physicality and mobility. Having featured in all of Zaragoza’s three games this season and won all his aerial duels, the Lagos-born midfielder has the elements required to turn out successful this season. However, this largely hinges on the performance of the entire team that has accrued just one point from their first three games of the campaign.

 

Emmanuel Apeh (CD Tenerife)

A return of just one assist and no goal from 31 matches in the 2020-21 La Liga Smartbank season is obviously not impressive. This poor goal return rate has probably not convinced manager Luis Miguel Ramis, who has failed to include the Nigerian striker in his squad for any of Tenerife’s matches this season. Apeh has a long season ahead and the 24-year-old must effectively grab the few opportunities that may come his way to force himself back into the manager’s plans this season.

 

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