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There are exciting times for supporters of Nigerian football, with the Premier League seeing some great performances from young Nigerian nationals in Iwobi, Iheanacho, Ndidi, Success, Musa, Moses and Ola Aina. These players created a standing for themselves last season, especially Victor Moses.
Now another young Nigerian, Henry Onyekuru, who is 19 years of age, seems to be close to landing up in the Premier League, at Moses’s across the city rivals, and FA Cup winners, Arsenal. Playing for KAS Eupen in the Belgian top flight, Onyekuru notched up 25 goals and 9 assists across all competitions this season. Outstanding numbers for a 19-year-old. Some might argue that he put up those numbers in a smaller league, but 25 goals by a player at that age is no small feat. So, it’s barely hardly surprising that Arsenal have made an offer for him. The latest stories suggest a £6.8m fee could be enough to land him.
A right-footed striker who can play across the front line, Onyekuru’s style bears heavy resemblance to the legendary Thierry Henry. Much like the Invincible, Onyekuru is often played down the left wing, where with his blistering acceleration and deft footwork, he’s able to cut inside the defenders, and leave the fullbacks trailing, at least winning a foul in most situations.
Standing at 5’9”, Onyekuru isn’t the tallest striker, but unlike most, he doesn’t hunch on the ball, making him seem larger. Add to the mix his agility, and his penchant for running past defenders, makes him a terrific striker.
For a 19-year old from a team in the Belgian League, Henry Onyekuru’s understanding of the game and technical skills are beyond most his age, in any league. For that you’ve got to take a closer look at his club, Eupen, which is owned by the Qatari Aspire Foundation, a company that sponsors Barca, and has Xavi has one of its ambassadors.
Using these close ties in Catalunya, Aspire brought over Josep Colomer, a former director at La Masia who was directly involved in developing Lionel Messi’s talents. The present coach is Jordi Condom, another Barca graduate, who has even worked at the La Masia.
So, it isn’t hard to understand how Onyekuru’s development has made him flourish, and why multiple clubs are interested in the teenager.
There’s been a surge of great academy graduates and youth players in the Premier League recently, with the likes of Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard all showing the advantage of good development. Arsene Wenger has always had an eye for young talents. Fans who are skeptical about Onyekuru are asked to look at Rob Holding, who Arsenal purchased just a year ago. The 21-year old has delivered brilliant performances, with his best coming during the FA Cup final against Chelsea.
Adding Onyekuru for a price of around £7million, wouldn’t be too much of a risk in the present market, and would only be a wise investment. It would also add to some competition within the Arsenal ranks, and that’s never a bad thing.