Grading the Nigeria national football team stars in the English Premier League

Grading the Nigeria national football team stars in the English Premier League

The English Premier League season’s unexpected pause is an opportunity to review how Nigeria’s national football team stars have performed.

Five players who have played for the Super Eagles are there currently. Those are Wilfred Ndidi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Alex Iwobi, Isaac Success and Odion Ighalo.


 

With around three-quarters of the campaign complete, betPawa in Nigeria grade their contributions to their teams:

Wilfred Ndidi at Leicester – A

Throughout his third full English Premier League season, Ndidi has stood out as the division’s best defensive midfielder. That’s even more impressive when considering that he’s still only 23. Across all 20 clubs, the 35-time Nigeria national football team player ranks second for tackles per game (4) and interceptions (2.7).

Ndidi

He’s also been very disciplined, collecting just three bookings. That compares favourably to those playing in deep midfield roles for other sides. Jorginho has received 10, while Ashley Westwood, Jefferson Lerma, and Luka Milivojevic are all on nine.

Ndidi will hopefully be rewarded with a 2020/21 Champions League spot. Leicester was third, 10 points clear of sixth-placed Wolves, when British sports events were paused.

 

Kelechi Iheanacho at Leicester – B

Iheanacho occupies a difficult position at Leicester. His rival for a starting place is English Premier League top scorer Jamie Vardy. The Englishman has netted 19 goals across 25 top-flight starts.

LEICESTER, ENGLAND – JANUARY 16: Kelechi Iheanacho of Leicester City celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 1-0 during The Emirates FA Cup Third Round Replay match between Leicester City and Fleetwood Town at The King Power Stadium on January 16, 2018 in Leicester, England. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

The Nigeria national football team forward has risen to that challenge and done plenty to help steer his side towards success.

The 23-year-old has already equaled his highest-scoring campaign for Leicester with eight goals in all competitions. He’s delivered that during 11 starts and eight substitute appearances. That’s 10 fewer games than he needed to reach that total two years ago.

 

If British sports events restart before the season ends, Iheanacho should have another chance to shine. He’s scored five cup goals so far and Leicester are through to the FA Cup quarter-finals.

 

Alex Iwobi at Everton – C

Iwobi hasn’t made quite as big an impression as Everton were hoping for over his first seven months. However, there have been flashes of what he’s capable of, with unlucky a fair word to describe his season.

Iwobi

Everton’s Alex Iwobi rues a missed chance during the Premier League match at St Mary’s Stadium, Southampton. (Photo by Mark Kerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

The winger, who is yet another 23-year-old member of this Nigeria national football team, enjoyed an immediate impact. He scored in his first two starts, with both goals firing his club ahead in close-fought fixtures.

Like his colleagues, Iwobi’s form dipped during a miserable end to Marco Silva’s time as manager. The former Arsenal man re-established himself under caretaker boss Duncan Ferguson though. He played every minute as Everton beat Chelsea 3-1 and drew 1-1 away to Manchester United.

Then came his next moment of misfortune, getting injured after 11 minutes against Arsenal one match before Carlo Ancelotti’s dugout debut. He missed the Italian’s opening seven games but is fit and ready to reclaim his place when sports events return.

 

Isaac Success at Watford – D

During a season that hasn’t been a success for Watford, Nigerian forward Success hasn’t had many opportunities to improve things. This has also been true of his uncapped teammate Tom Dele-Bashiru, with both only starting cup matches.

Success

WATFORD, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 27: Isaac Success of Watford celebrates after scoring his team’s third goal during the Premier League match between Watford FC and Huddersfield Town at Vicarage Road on October 27, 2018 in Watford, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Success has made just five English Premier League appearances totalling 65 minutes, scoring no goals but getting a yellow card. That’s why betPawa in Nigeria grade his contribution so far as a D. It’s not too late to improve that by helping to steer the Hornets away from relegation danger.

 

Odion Ighalo at Man Utd – B

The most exciting signing of 2020 for Nigeria national football team fans was Ighalo joining Man Utd. The Red Devils are unbeaten since he arrived.

LINZ, AUSTRIA – MARCH 12: Odion Ighalo of Manchester United in action during the UEFA Europa League round of 16 first leg match between LASK and Manchester United at Linzer Stadion on March 12, 2020 in Linz, Austria. The match is played behind closed doors as a precaution against the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). (Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

The striker hasn’t played many English Premier League minutes but has been excellent in cup ties. Indeed, he has been selected from kick-off for three cup ties and has responded with four goals.

 

It means Man Utd aren’t missing Marcus Rashford anywhere near as much as was expected. The England attacker’s injury caused Ighalo to be recruited as a short-term cover. Yet if the 30-year-old continues to produce, a permanent transfer might be possible.

 

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