COMMENT

Should talented Taiwo Awoniyi consider moving to Premier League?

The 24-year-old's excellent displays for Union Berlin have caught the attention of a host of clubs in the English top-flight.

Taiwo Awoniyi has scored his 13 goals in the Bundesliga this season

Taiwo Awoniyi's young career has been a rollercoaster, but if there is anyone that embodies the never give up attitude, it is him.

The 24-year-old, who comes from a humble background in the city of Ilorin, has had to overcome many challenges in his young career.

Awoniyi's journey in football started with Nigeria's U-13 team before graduating to the U-15 team. His big break, however, came when he was called up to the U-17 squad ahead of the 2013 U-17 Africa championship.

Awoniyi would not have been included in the squad if some players had not failed an MRI test.

Still, Awoniyi never really got a chance at the tournament proper, with Kelechi Iheanacho and Isaac Success leading the line.

But his story all changed a few months later at the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates. Awoniyi never thought he would play a lot in the competition, but luck shined on him when Success picked up an injury that ruled him out of the competition.

It was an opportunity that he took well, combining brilliantly with Iheanacho to help Nigeria win the competition.

Following the FIFA U-17 World Cup in the middle east, a few of the players made big moves to Europe. Iheanacho joined Manchester City while Success signed for Udinese.

Awoniyi also got his opportunity, albeit two years later. The youngster joined Liverpool on a five-year deal.

Awoniyi's move to Anfield was supposed to be the start of a promising career, but it turned out to be a frustrating one as he never played a game of competitive football for the first team.

He spent all his five years at the club on different loan spells at several clubs. While the decision was not a bad thing as it was taken to help his development, the loan spells never benefitted Awoniyi.

He never found his feet at these clubs as he kept changing teams season after season. This indirectly affected his development as he never had a stable environment.

At this moment, it looked like Awoniyi was going to be another Nigerian youngster that made his name in age-grade competitions but failed to fulfil his potential.

Awoniyi's final loan stint was at Union Berlin. Still, not many gave him a chance of turning it around, considering he had flopped in his previous spell with Mainz in the German Bundesliga.

However, Union turned out to be the escape route he truly needed. The 24-year-old scored five goals and provided three assists in 21 league games despite missing almost all the games in the second half.

Awoniyi's performance was enough to convince Union to spend a club-record fee of €6.50m to sign him permanently from Liverpool.

If Awoniyi's performance last season was good, he has gotten better this year. The ex-Mainz attacker has scored 18 goals and provided four assists in 40 games for the Iron Ones this season.

He has 13 goals in the Bundesliga this season, the sixth-highest in the league. The Nigerian international has been arguably the best Union player in this campaign.

Awoniyi's brilliant display has come at a price, though. He has been linked with a move away from Union, with Premier League clubs interested.

Union are reportedly ready to sell Awoniyi if he wants to leave, but it would cost potential suitors around €20.00m to get their target.

However, is it the best move for Awoniyi? The Nigerian international will definitely feel he has unfinished business in England, considering how his time at Liverpool turned out.

The Premier League is also the biggest league in the world and a dream for every player. While West Ham, Newcastle and Southampton are not on the same level as Liverpool, they are suitable clubs for the Nigerian international.

Moving to one of these clubs will not be a wrong move, although West Ham are more suitable, considering they are likely to play in Europe next season.

But Awoniyi also needs to consider the stability he has enjoyed at Union for two years. He is more suited to the club's system and well-loved by the fans.

However, a Premier League opportunity is too big to miss. It raises his profile and gives him more awareness. Not only that, but it is also likely to improve his chances in the Super Eagles squad.

Despite playing for Nigeria at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, Awoniyi is still down in the pecking order in Nigeria's attacking department. But a move to the biggest league in the world will improve his chances in the national team.

Union offered Awoniyi a chance to kickstart his career, and they will forever have a place in his heart. But the Premier League is every player's dream, and for Awoniyi, it should not be different.

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