Pulse List 2016 Top 5 Nigerian players in the Premier League

The country has been exporting some of the most promising talent from the continent.

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Victor Moses play

Victor Moses

(BPI / Matt West)
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It seems like such a long time ago when it was extremely tough for Nigerian players to break into European leagues and enjoy a consistent level of success.

It’s a different narrative now as the country keeps exporting some of the most promising talent from the continent.

One of the biggest beneficiaries of this Nigerian influx into the big leagues is the English Premier League as Nigerian players can be found in a lot of teams from the big teams to the underperformers in the lower levels of the table.

Here is a list of the best performing Nigerian players in the English Premier League:

1. Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City)

Kelechi Iheanacho play Manchester City's Kelechi Iheanacho celebrates scoring their first goal. Manchester City v Southampton - Premier League - Etihad Stadium - 23/10/16 (Reuters / Craig Brough)

 

Iheanacho is not a stranger to the average follower of Nigerian football.

The 20-year-old striker has represented the country from the Under-13 level upwards, winning the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup where he scored six times and was awarded the Golden Ball award for player of the tournament.

Since he scored his debut goal for Manchester City against Crystal Palace in September 2015, he has not looked back as he has scored 19 goals in 50 appearances for City.

He is undoubtedly one of the best youngsters currently playing in the EPL and his 2016 performances culminated in a nomination for 2016 FIFA Golden Boy award.

2. Victor Moses (Chelsea)

Victor Moses scored the winning goal for Chelsea and ended Tottenham's unbeaten run play

Victor Moses scored the winning goal for Chelsea and ended Tottenham's unbeaten run.

(The Guardian UK)

 

For someone who started 2016 as a West Ham United player, and was injured till February, the year didn’t start well for Victor Moses. At the end of his loan spell, West Ham refused to make the deal permanent and the winger returned to his parent club, Chelsea, uncertain of what his new role will be with incoming manager Antonio Conte.

Things have worked out quite well for the Nigerian forward as he has emerged as one of the Premier League’s best players this season, playing a pivotal role in the Blues’ run of victories that has propelled them to the top of the table.

His wingback role this season has given him the life and freedom to maximize his pace, trickery and good sense to terrorise defences and snuff out attacks.

Without doubt, he is Nigeria’s most influential player this year.

3. Alex Iwobi (Arsenal)

Alex Iwobi play

Alex Iwobi

(Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

 

Lagos-born Iwobi, nephew of former Super Eagles star Jay Jay Okocha, has been a revelation since his made his first team debut for English club Arsenal in October 2015.

The pacy winger has not looked back since and has become a mainstay in Arsene Wenger’s team ever since he scored Premier League goals against Everton and Watford.

4. Ahmed Musa (Leicester City)

Ahmed Musa play

Leicester City's midfielder Ahmed Musa celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Crystal Palace at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on October 22, 2016

(AFP)

 

Nigerian star, Musa, started 2016 at Russian side CSKA Moskow where he scored 17 goals in the 2015/16 season, helping the team to the Russian Premier League crown (his third with the club).

It was no surprise that last season's English Premier League champions, Leicester City splashed an astonishing £16.6 million on him to add a different dimension to their attack.

The 24-year-old hasn’t exactly met expectations at the struggling club, but his raw pace and direct running has been torture for Premier League defenders.

5. John Mikel Obi (Chelsea)

John Obi Mikel play

John Obi Mikel in action against Manchester City on Sunday, February, 21

(PA)

 

The Super Eagles captain started the 2015/16 season rotting away on the bench while Jose Mourinho’s ill-fated second Chelsea spell came to an end as he was fired in December.

Mikel’s fortunes changed in the new year as Guus Hiddink took over as interim manager, someone he had built a great relationship with in his first 2009 spell.

Mikel’s run in the team’s midfield brought back some much needed balance to the Chelsea team as they saw out what was already a disastrous season. His contributions were well appreciated by the veteran Hiddink who stepped down before Conte was appointed as Chelsea’s new manager for the 2016/17 season.

Due to his international commitments at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, where he won a bronze medal, he didn’t feature in the Blues’ preseason and has found it difficult to break into the new manager’s flourishing team.

Mikel has survived under ten Chelsea managers in his ten years at the club. No reason why he can’t do it again.

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