Once upon a time, Nigerian players were in high demand in Europe. Nigerian players were known for their power, pace, skill and determination to succeed. Top clubs in Europe sought their services. There were Nigerian players in clubs like Arsenal, Chelsea, AC Milan, Inter Milan, Ajax, Borussia Dortmund and Anderlecht. Those days seem to be in the past as Nigerian players now find themselves in obscure clubs.
Victor Osimhen is, perhaps, Nigeria’s biggest export at the moment. The former U-17 star plays for Napoli in Serie A, whilst Wilfred Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho ply their trade with Leicester City.
While Nigerian fans hope their players play for top clubs and regularly in the Champions League, one player Nigerians hope to see on the big stage is not moving up. With Genk likely to lose one of its most potent strikers, the club believes another Nigerian is the perfect replacement. Cyriel Dessers is wanted back at Genk to fill the soon to be vacated boots of Paul Onuachu.
Genk seek a replacement for Onuachu
Genk have a tiny headache. The Belgian club is not a European heavyweight and will struggle to keep its best players. Paul Onuachu has been spectacular for Genk in the last couple of seasons. The Nigerian star has attracted interest from several clubs across Europe, with Genk resigned to losing the goal machine.
The signs look ominous. Paul Onuachu is on his way out of Cegeka Arena, leaving Genk with the arduous task of replacing the potent striker. The Belgian Cup champions are not looking far for a replacement for the tall forward. The club has stated that if Onuachu leaves, they would have no choice but to recall Nigerian striker Cyriel Dessers from his loan deal at Feyenoord.
Big boots to fill
Paul Onuachu is arguably a massive success at Genk. In the last two years, the Nigerian forward has been miles ahead of the competition in the Jupiler League. Last season, Onuachu struck 35 times in 41 domestic matches for the Smurfs. It helped him claim the MVP award and saw his side pick up a fifth Beker Van Belgie triumph.
One man’s meat is poison to another. The success of Onuachu has its casualties, chief of who is fellow Nigerian Cyriel Dessers. The Nigerian had to be shipped off on loan to Feyenoord last summer. The loan transfer came after Dessers played second fiddle to Onuachu and lacked game time.
Clubs like Arsenal, West Ham and Lyon have been attracted by the performances of the lanky striker, but a move away from Cegeka Arena did not materialize.
Onuachu could leave this summer, as he is yet to renew his deal at Genk. Genk would have to sell Onuachu, or the forward could leave the club as a free agent next summer when his contract expires.
Voetbal24, as per Het Laatste Nieuws, report that the impending departure of Onuachu does not bother the Belgian club as they see in Dessers a perfect replacement. Dessers has had a decent performance at Feyenoord. The Nigerian forward has scored nine goals and one assist in 24 appearances for the Dutch club. Most of his appearances have been as a substitute.
This article was most recently revised and updated 8 months ago