Lookman, Chukwueze, Boniface: Who wins the Europa League?

Lookman, Chukwueze, Boniface: Who wins the Europa League?
Photo by Icon Sport

With no Nigerian left in the UEFA Champions League following the crash of Napoli to FC Barcelona, the Europa League is another chance for a Nigerian to win a European trophy.

There are three Super Eagles players in the Europa League, and their various clubs have a realistic chance of winning the second-tier European trophy this season.

Ademola Lookman (Atalanta), Samuel Chukwueze (AC Milan) and Victor Boniface (Bayer Leverkusen) all played crucial roles for their clubs as they advanced to the quarter-final of the Europa League.

Their paths to the final are not easy, but their clubs are no pushovers and can go to the final.

The big question is, which of the three players will win the Europa League?

Can Ademola Lookman lead Atalanta to win the Europa League?

Ademola Lookman in the Europa League
Photo by Icon Sport

Ademola Lookman was instrumental in the Super Eagles reaching the final of the 2023 African Cup of Nations.

He scored three goals in the tournament. Since his return from AFCON 2023, he has settled back into his club.

Atalanta has dropped in form recently, but their chase for a top-four place is still on. Lookman scored in the return leg against Sporting CP to win 2-1 and 3-2 on aggregate.

On the domestic scene, the former Everton forward has scored eight goals and three assists, but only one came after his return from AFCON.

Atalanta will lock horns with a rampant Liverpool, who have been in top form. Lookman has received high praise from his coach, but he understands that the Reds are a monumental mountain to climb.

Samuel Chukwueze with an easier route to the final

Samuel Chukwueze in Europa League action
Credit: Icon Sport

AC Milan sit second in the Serie A, 16 points behind league leaders and city-rivals Inter Milan. Despite the gulf between them, the Rossoneri are on course to return to the UEFA Champions League.

Chukwueze has not been a vital component for AC Milan this season but has contributed when called upon.

The Super Eagles forward was not in brilliant form at AFCON but needs to up his game to help AC Milan win the Europa League.

Milan looks solid enough to win the second-tier European trophy. If they overcome AS Roma in the quarter-final, they have a date with the Benfica/Marseille tie winner.

On paper, it looks like the Rossoneri are a slam dunk to reach the final, but it is easier said than done. They need to settle it on the pitch.

Boniface is on a tough path to the Europa League

Victor Boniface in action for Leverkusen - Europa League
Credit: Icon Sport a

Victor Boniface did not feature at AFCON 2023 for the Super Eagles, but before his injury, he was a mainstay in Die Werkself lineup.

He set a new Bundesliga record, winning four straight Rookie of the Month award. The Nigerian forward, who joined the Bundesliga side this season, has impressed for coach Xabi Alonso.

Before his injury layoff that has kept him out of the side, he scored ten Bundesliga goals and seven assists.

Boniface also scored four Europa League goals in five matches. The forward should return from a groin injury in early April.

Bayer Leverkusen is the only side in the top five leagues yet to taste defeat. They are unbeaten in all competitions and roaring away to their first-ever Bundesliga title.

After their gruelling 3-2 (5-4 aggregate) win over Qarabag, they bagged a date with West Ham. If they beat West Ham to reach the semi-final, they will lock horns with the winner between Liverpool and Atalanta.

A date with Liverpool will be a monumental tie.

Conclusion

Boniface plays in a side brimming with confidence amid their victories. On paper, he looks the best to win the Europa League.

Lookman has a mountain to climb, while Chukwueze has an easier path. Nigerians hope that at least one of them gets to the final. You never can tell.

Perhaps two of them will reach the Europa League final and assure their fans that a Nigerian will be on the winning team.

 

This article was most recently revised and updated 4 weeks ago

Chooka Izuegbuna is a Sports Journalist with 20 years of experience in print, TV and Radio. He has worked with some of the top media houses in Nigeria, including NTA Network, Channels TV, TVC, Silverbird TV and MITV. Chooka broke his sports reporting teeth with The Game Football Weekly in 2003 as a cartoonist and reporter.