Best 20 Nigerian players from the 2021/2020 seasonAugust 12, 2021
A recap of what happened in the 2020/2021 season from the perspective of Nigerian players.
After letting their hair down in different locations all around the world, Nigerian players have resumed with their respective clubs ahead of the 2021/2022 season.
The season has started in effect for some players, with several leagues in Europe already in action.
But before the rest of the leagues join in action, Pulse wants to recap the previous season from the Nigerian players’ perspective.
This is a list of the best 50 Nigerian players from the 2021/2022 season.
1. Paul Onuachu (Genk/Belgium)
The 2020/2021 season was about Onuachu, who netted an incredible 33 league goals for Genk and 35 in total.
He was truly dominant in Belgium, terrorising opposition defences with his strength, abilities with his head and slick finishes.
2. Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City/England)
It would be outrageous to suggest that Iheanacho would be considered one of Nigeria’s best players a year ago. After what looked like a career mishap, the forward has remarkably bounced back into reckoning.
After showing he has the abilities to thrive on that level, the Nigerian took advantage of a glut of injuries at Leicester City to show what he is capable of.
He scored tons of goals for Leicester City and came up clutch in their run to the FA Cup title with some crucial goals, including those against Manchester United in the quarterfinals and the winner in the semifinals.
3. Simy Nwankwo (Crotone/Italy)
Simy has made it hard for everyone not to include him on this type of list after two consecutive 20-goal seasons for Crotone.
Even more impressive for the striker in the 2020/2021 season is that he did this in the Serie A, where he scored 21 goals.
Everything good about Crotone going forward moved through the Nigerian although it was ultimately not enough to keep them up.
4. Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City/England)
There isn’t much fuss about what Ndidi does these days, no matter how incredible, maybe because there is no novelty to it anymore because he has been incredibly consistent and at this level for more than three years.
The Nigerian is easily one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, and in this past season, he was on that level again, breaking up play and helping Leicester City to make a good run at a top-four finish and an FA Cup title.
5. Terem Moffi (Lorient/France)
Without much top-flight experience, Moffi joined Lorient in Ligue 1 and impressed in his debut season with 14 goals in 32 league games.
His highlight of the season was his hattrick against Bordeaux in April, and it was after that game, he received his first Super Eagles call-up.
6. Umar Sadiq (Almeria/Spain)
He might have done it in a second-tier league, but Sadiq’s impressive 2020/2021 season cannot be ignored.
The Nigerian scored 28 goals and made nine assists in all competitions for Almeria, although it was not enough to get them to the Spanish top division.
7. William Troost-Ekong (Watford/England)
Another player that did his thing in a second division league in Europe with a pivotal role in Watford’s promotion to the Premier League.
After a shaky start to life in the English championship, he posted solid performances for Watford. Aside from his on-field performance, the Nigerian also showed leadership with how he called a meeting to discuss their awful form in February.
After that meeting, the Hornets dropped only two points on their way to gaining promotion.
8. Joe Aribo (Rangers/Scotland)
Rangers did not lose a single game in 38 attempts as they snag the Scottish Premiership for Celtics. Aribo played 31 of those games and started 27.
He contributed seven goals and made four assists. Not great numbers, but he was fantastic for Rangers.
Granted, he has not been that player who dominates for most of the 90 minutes in a game, but his good moments helped propel Rangers to an unbeaten season.
9. Zaidu Sanusi (Porto/Portugal)
He was decent in those Champions League nights, which gets him on this list because competing at the biggest stage of club football means much.
10. Maduka Okoye (Sparta Rotterdam/Netherlands)
Going by the number of clean sheets, Okoye has the claim to be the fifth-best goalkeeper in the Dutch Eredivisie last season. For a Nigerian goalkeeper playing in a notable European league, that counts for a lot.
He delivered more than he was expected to for Sparta Rotterdam for a series of fine performances. He kept 10 clean sheets in 28 league games and had a saving percentage of 35.7%.
In his underwhelming season in the Serie A, there were some fine moments for Osimhen who is yet to deliver on the big-money his transfer to Napoli commanded.
He started well for Napoli, often bringing that chaos factor that defences couldn’t cope with at times. But that wasn’t enough at a point; he needed to get goals.
He managed two in his first six league games before a shoulder injury sustained while on national team duties kept him out. That started the frustrating part of his debut season in Italy.
A situation with COVID-19 further kept him out to add to the frustration. He did finish the season strongly, but that wasn’t still enough.
12. Peter Olayinka (Slavia Prague/Czech)
Olayinka was a significant part of Prague’s 2020/2021 season which saw them win the domestic double in Czech and had a deep run in the Europa League.
He contributed six goals in 24 games in the league and scored three times in the Europa League.
13. Leon Balogun (Rangers/Scotland)
Balogun was a good team player for Rangers in their unbeaten season in Scotland. He played 19 games with 15 starts and had two assists in the league. He also deputised well at right-back towards the end of the season.
14. Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal/Spain)
Didn’t get to play much because of injuries but managed some fine performances. He was once named Man of the Match in a game his side lost, played well in the Europa League and ended the season with a major trophy.
15. Semi Ajayi (West Brom/England)
You won’t be wrong to quickly dismiss Semi Ajayi when you look at West Brom’s defensive numbers last season. They were genuinely horrific; little wonder they suffered relegation. But Ajayi had some fine individual moments.
Getting to play regularly in the Premier League counts a lot also for this list.
16. Ola Aina (Fulham/England)
It was the same for Aina, whose Fulham side suffered relegation, but the Nigerian had some good games. He also scored one of the goals of the season in the Premier League.
17. Tyronne Ebuehi ( Twente/Netherlands)
He finally got an entire season in the top flight under his belt after his significant injury in 2018. Had some good games and looked like his former self again.
18. Kenneth Omeruo (Leganes/Spain)
Omeruo remained with Leganes after their relegation from Spain’s top division and was last season a constant feature in their side that narrowly missed out on promotion.
19. Victor Moses (CSKA Moscow/Russia)
Injuries and fitness issues troubled him last season, but he did manage to play 19 times in the league and scored four goals as a wing-back. There was also a Man of the Match performance.
20. Taiwo Awoniyi (Union Berlin/Germany)
Had some fine spells with Union Berlin, where he scored five and made four assists in 22 games