Super Eagles striker Victor Boniface and Bayer 04 Leverkusen are set to take on Qarabag FK on matchday 3 of the 2023/24 UEFA Europa League season.
Both teams have two wins from two in the ongoing competition but the German club’s better goal difference (+5) has earned them the top spot in the group. The top-of-the-table clash on Thursday 26 October 2023 could be key in determining who ends up as the group winner.
However, Leverkusen manager Xabi Alonso could opt to rest the talismanic Victor Boniface for the game against the team from Azerbaijan for one key reason.
🔥 Highest rated 22-year-olds in Europe's top 5 leagues this season (6+ apps):
— WhoScored.com (@WhoScored) October 18, 2023
Victor Boniface key to Leverkusen Bundesliga hopes
Many amazing strikers have come and left the BayArena but Victor Boniface has been the most impactful of them all.
The Nigeria national football team striker joined the German side from Royal Union Saint-Gilloise in the summer of 2023 despite interest from the Premier League. The move proved to be a good decision for both parties as manager Xabi Alonso has further improved Boniface, making him one of the best strikers in world football at the moment.
Back to Back Bundesliga Rookie of the Month winner.
Victor Boniface. 🇳🇬❤️ pic.twitter.com/GAmxMnUG0a
— LERRY (@_AsiwajuLerry) October 19, 2023
As a result, Bayer 04 Leverkusen are mounting a genuine challenge for the German Bundesliga title and are already looking like winners despite not being too far ahead of perennial champions Bayern Munich who reinforced their squad with Harry Kane.
If they win the 2023/24 Bundesliga, they will have claimed their first-ever league title since their reformation on 1 July 1904. From their debut in the competition until now, they have been runners-up five times, which is a European record for a team finishing behind the winners without a winners’ medal.
Victor Boniface and Leverkusen are in first place with 22 points after eight matches, which is also their best start to a top flight season. They have scored 25 goals in the league this season, seven of which were scored by Boniface to put him at the top of their scoring list. His seven goals also see him in third place in the Bundesliga 2023/24 scoring charts behind VFB Stuttgart’s Guinea striker Serhou Guirassy and Harry Kane.
Their next challenge in the league is SC Freiburg, who are in eighth place on the season’s log. Before that, they take on Qarabag in the Europa League. Both matches come within a space of two days.
Xabi Alonso has a hard decision to make about Victor Boniface.
Victor Boniface close to Brighton move before joining Leverkusen
While Xabi Alonso ponders over dropping Victor Boniface from the team or at least the starting lineup to face Qarabag FK in the Europa League on Thursday because of their Bundesliga charge, he will also be silently thanking his luck for being able to manage the striker at all.
Boniface was contracted to Union SG, an affiliate club of Premier League team Brighton and Hove Albion. Both clubs, owned by Tony Bloom, often swap players. New claims have emerged that Boniface was headed to England after successes with Union SG in Belgium but the club let him go to Germany instead.
Victor Boniface has now been involved in 10 Bundesliga goals for Leverkusen this season.
⚽ 7 goals
🅰️ 3 assists
Proper baller. pic.twitter.com/ZCwOjb2oS8
— Soar Super Eagles (@SSE_NGA) October 21, 2023
Reports claim that this move did not happen because of the UEFA rule that prohibits two clubs owned by the same entity from participating in its competitions.
Union SG and Brighton are both competing in the Europa League this season and as such, Tony Bloom also had to relinquish his position on the board of both clubs. The rule also prevented the player transfer of Boniface to Brighton from Union SG, allowing Bayer 04 Leverkusen to swap in for the striker and nab him for €20.5 million.
Victor Boniface could end up in England sooner than later, however, as Newcastle United – among other teams – are closely following his progress.
This article was most recently revised and updated 1 month ago