Nigerian football XI of the year [Pulse Picks 2020]

This is the best Nigerian players in their respective positions in 2020.

Nigerian football XI of 2020

From this plethora of Nigerian football stars scattered worldwide, we write on the Nigerian football XI of the year for this Pulse Picks 2020 article.

This list shines a light on the Nigerian players who were the best in their position in 2020.

Goalkeeper

The stark absence of quality in the Nigerian goalkeeping unit at this very moment is staggering. No one stood out from the host of names we can come up with,. Yet for the sake of this list, we have to pick one: the pick, Daniel Akpeyi.

Akpeyi was the best Nigerian goalkeeper of 2019 in Pulse's end of the year list, and he continued with that form into 2020.

The Nigeria international was in top form for Kaizer Chiefs who were in an excellent position to win the 2019/2020 South African Premier Division title. A drop in form for Akpeyi and the whole Kaizer Chiefs after the league restart in August 2020, saw the club lose out on the title to Mamelodi Sundowns.

Despite the loss in form, Akpeyi continues to be the first choice goalkeeper at Chiefs and same for the Super Eagles at least for now when fit.

Right-back

After a tough second season in Italy with Torino, Ola Aina moved to the Premier League with Fulham.

So far in England, Aina has been consistent with his performances and has a Goal of the Month award to his name already. These two reasons make him the candidate for his position. He edges Tyronne Ebuehi who is gradually getting to his best at Twente.

Central defence

No Nigerian central defender has been more consistent in 2020 than Semi Ajayi. He was impressive in the latter part of 2020 when he aided the Baggies back to the Premier League.

He has been almost faultless although West Brom have struggled with life at the top flight.

Leon Balogun had a strong year after playing his way back into reckoning. He kicked off the year by joining Wigan where he started to get games after struggling to get game time in the Premier League with Brighton.

The pandemic-enforced break halt his progress, but he joined Scottish side Rangers in the summer and has been a key player.

For the Super Eagles, he has also been involved in all games in 2020.

Left-back

Zaidu Sanusi had a big year in 2020. After 21 appearances for Santa Clara in Portugal, he got a big move to giants Porto where he has also been fantastic.

Sanusi also had a decent Champions League group campaign where he scored a goal.

Midfield

For years, Leicester City star Wilfred Ndidi has been one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, little surprise he's on this list.

Ndidi in 2020 was colossus again, balling out as Leicester City punched above their weights for most of the 2019/2020 season.

Although a long injury lay-out has limited him, the 24-year-old is back and continues to show why he is the best in his position.

Since he became a Nigeria international, Joe Aribo has continued to improve his game. In 2020, the improvement was evident with his contributions for Rangers in the Scottish Premiership.

He made 25 starts in Rangers' 29 league games of the 2019/2020 season. This season, he has four goals in eight games and one of the first picks in the Super Eagles squad.

Frank Onyeka came into prominence in 2020 following his impressive season in Denmark. He was very instrumental in FC Midtjylland's title win, dropping fine performances in a couple of midfield roles and was duly awarded the Club's Player of the Year award.

This season, he has continued in that stride and performed reasonably well in the Champions League group stage where he made more tackles plus interceptions more than any other player.

Onyeka also made his Super Eagles debut in 2020.

Forward

One of Nigeria's best players before a shoulder injury forced him out of action in early November. 2020 saw Osimhen become one of the most expensive footballers following his €71.2m move from Lille to Napoli.

His move came after his fantastic showing in Lille where he scored 18 goals in 38 appearances.

He won the Club's Player of the Year award, he was included in Ligue 1's Team of the Season and won the 2020 Prix Marc-Vivien Foé, the award for the best African player in Ligue 1.

Following his teething problems in the 2019/2020 season in Belgium, Paul Onuachu in the latter part of 2020 has shown what he is capable of.

The lanky striker is currently tearing up the Belgian Pro League where he has 14 goals in 17 league appearances.

It's solely on his strong showing in the latter part of 2020 that the striker makes this list.

Kelechi Iheanacho struggled for a couple of seasons after making a move to Leicester City. He was looking like he didn't belong on that level before 2020.

This year, the Nigerian has delivered for most of the time he has gotten chances to play.

He made some fine performances in the league and League Cup at the beginning of the year and was arguably Leicester City's player during Project Restart.

This season so far, he has performed well in the Europa League where he has three goals.

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