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Soccer News of Sunday, 1 January 2023


Five Nigerian players who must leave in 2023

Okoye, Iheanacho, Kalu Okoye, Iheanacho, Kalu

The January transfer window opens today and just as 2022 saw a lot of Nigerian players makes moves across different clubs, the same is expected in 2023, and in anticipation of this, PUNCH Sports Extra takes a look at the top five Eagles stars who have been linked with exits from their current clubs.

Samuel Chukwueze

Chukwueze’s irregular run in the 2022/23 season with Villareal might see him advised to consider an offer to another club where he could have more playing time.

The Nigeria international has managed a minimal one goal and one assist in 14 league appearances for the Yellow Submarine this season.

The 23-year-old finally ended his eight months goal drought when he scored his first Laliga goal in Villareal’s 2-1 home win against Valencia on Saturday.

Liverpool and West Ham are two Premier League clubs that have indicated an interest in signing the Nigeria striker, but Chukwueze should move to a club that can assure him of regular playing time.

Also, with the return of Moses Simon and the current form of Ademola Lookman in the Super Eagles, Chukwueze might have to move to a club where he can play more games to guarantee his place in the national team.

Maduka Okoye

Okoye has fallen out of favour both in club and country. For the Eagles, he is behind Francis Uzoho in the pecking order and in Watford, the 23-year-old has struggled for minutes finding the more experienced Austria international Daniel Bachmann more favoured by the Hornets backroom.

Okoye has now admitted that he’s open to a loan move to the Dutch Eredivisie; “We’ll see what happens. My contract runs until 2027, so anything is possible. Maybe I will be rented out, or not, I don’t know yet, “ Okoye said to Voetbal Primeur.

“The Eredivisie? Yes, that sounds like something to me. The clubs in the Netherlands know me well from Sparta and know what they can do with me. We’ll see. For now I’m just focusing completely on Watford and the games we’re going to play.”

Samuel Kalu

Kalu has struggled for minutes since his move in the winter transfer window in 2022 and signs do not show that it will change anytime soon. Kalu joined Watford in January from Bordeaux for €3.00m, but the Nigerian has struggled so far at the club. The Nigeria international made just four league appearances for the club last season and is yet to start a single game this season.

The pacy winger who finished as top African dribbler in Europe last season might need to find a new club in order to change his fortunes as even the Super Eagles have lost faith in him as he did not play a single game for Nigeria in 2022 with his last outing in green and white coming under former Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr.

Ola Aina

Aina has been linked with an exit from Serie A side Torino since the 2022 summer transfer window and it now seems that the 2023 winter window will see the Super Eagles defender move.

EPL club West Ham have been tipped to make another attempt to sign the fullback from Torino during the January window with the Hammers having issues with their defence and will need reinforcement ahead of the crucial second half of the season. The Hammers made a late move for Aina in the summer but they ultimately failed in that effort as Torino refused to part with the Nigeria international but he remains linked to West Ham and Leeds.

Kelechi Iheanacho

Following a poor run in the EPL with Leicester City in the 2022/23 season, Super Eagles striker Kelechi Iheanacho could make the move away from the King Power stadium where he can get regular playing time.

Iheanacho joined Leicester City in 2017 after failing to get regular playing time at Manchester City under Pep Guardiola and that forced his exit from the Etihad.

The 26-year-old had a good performance in the 2021/22 season where he scored eight goals and contributed nine assists in 43 appearances in all competitions but the Nigeria international has struggled to replicate last season’s performance as he has only scored just one goal and provided one assist in 15 appearances in the first half of the 2022/23 season.

Iheanacho last scored for the Foxes in their 5-2 win over Brighton & Hove Albion in September 2022 and could seize the January transfer window to switch to a new club where he can play regularly and get more chances to score goals.