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Nigerian Players Who Could Shine In The Premier League This Season

The Premier League has been an excellent proving ground for players of Nigerian origin to harness their skills, with no fewer than thirty-seven plying their trade in the English top-flight over the last twenty-four years. Salisu Yusuf will hope that the current crop of international stars playing in England continue to make a name for themselves and progress as footballers, with crucial African Cup of Nation and World Cup Qualifying matches coming up on the horizon. It remains to be seen how the Nigerian national team pick themselves up after the shock passing of the most successful African coach of all time, “Big Boss” Stephen Keshi, but the tragic news could spur the players on to succeed in his honour. Those plying their trade in the Premier League will hope to impress Yusuf during the upcoming season, and while football fans can back their favourite English team with Betway through their Premier League odds, Nigeria’s stars could make a big impact.

Alex Iwobi

Alex Iwobi
Alex Iwobi
Alex Iwobi was one of the stand-out youngsters who enjoyed a breakthrough year in the Premier League last season, with the 20-year-old making a big impact at Arsenal. His decision to play for Nigeria over England in March will have delighted the NFF, with the Super Eagles securing the services of a player who has electric pace and can play as a winger or a striker. It remains to be seen whether he plays a prominent role in Arsene Wenger’s team during the upcoming season, but there is no question that Iwobi will add to the six caps he already has in the future.

Kelechi Iheanacho

Kelechi Iheanacho
Kelechi Iheanacho
Nigeria have been blessed to have some excellent strikers over the years, but Kelechi Iheanacho has the potential to become the best of the lot. The 19-year-old enjoyed a fantastic debut season with Manchester City, with Iheanacho making a real name for himself as a more than adequate back-up for Sergio Aguero. Eight goals in twenty-six appearances, nineteen of which came from the substitutes’ bench, is a more than respectable return for a player with pace, strength and a real eye for goal.

His first Premier League proved to be a crucial one, with Iheanacho scoring in injury-time to win the game at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace last September as Manchester City started the season on fire. Although they ultimately fell short as Leicester City shocked everyone by lifting the title, Man City’s odds on winning the 2016/2017 Premier League on Betway’s website have been improved by the arrival of Pep Guardiola who is not afraid to give youth a chance. It can only be of great benefit for Iheanacho to learn under one of the best managers in world football, and as the talented striker has already made his mark on the international scene with two goals in four games for Nigeria (both goals came in recent friendlies against Mali and Luxembourg, the sky is the limit for Iheanacho.

John-Obi Mikel

John Obi Mikel
It is fair to say that Chelsea endured a hugely disappointing season as they never came close to defending their Premier League crown, but the arrival of Antonio Conte could spark a major improvement at Stamford Bridge. The former Juventus manager, who enjoyed an impressive Euro 2016 campaign in charge of Italy, may value John-Obi Mikel’s leadership qualities in the middle of the park, with the 29-year-old becoming a reliable member of Chelsea’s team. Yusuf will hope that Mikel plays more first-team football this season, but it is highly unlikely that the Nigeria manager will drop his talismanic captain who has excellent strength and composure for a central midfielder. Fans will hope that Mikel makes a big contribution for Nigeria at this summer’s Olympics, before dealing with crucial upcoming fixtures against Tanzania, Zambia and Algeria where the captain will have to lead by example and help his team put points on the board.

Odion Ighalo

Odion Ighalo
Odion Ighalo
Some players often find it difficult to make an impact in their first Premier League campaign, but Nigeria striker Odion Ighalo had no problems settling into life in the top flight. The 27-year-old may have scored only three goals during the second half of the campaign, but the Watford striker really made a name for himself through a number of outstanding performances in the first few months that made people sit up and take notice of his quality.

Fifteen goals in thirty-seven appearances is an excellent return at a club who comfortably secured their Premier League status following promotion, and with Walter Mazzarri replacing Quique Sanchez Flores in the Vicarage Road hotseat, Ighalo could become an ever better player. Watford have been able to hold onto one of their best players, having turned down advances from elite Premier League clubs and big-money bids from the Chinese Premier League, and although his recent goal against Luxembourg made it three in eleven caps for the Super Eagles, Ighalo could play a key role for Nigeria in the future.

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