Who will be the best performing Super Eagles star in the Premier League?
While its a possibility that every one of the Super Eagles players in the Premier League will perform, it is not a certainty. Here comes the fortune telling.
The much-anticipated return of the Premier League will see Nigerian football fans, once again, get to hoping that Nigerian football stars in Europe’s most watched league, shine the brightest this season.
While this is a possibility, it is not a certainty that every one of the Super Eagles players plying their trade in England’s top flight will perform.
Last season, Watford’s Emmanuel Dennis was the Nigerian star on everyone’s lips. Two seasons ago, it was Kelechi Iheanacho of Leicester City.
But could the new season present us with more than one high-flying Eagle?
Alex Iwobi (Everton)
Iwobi goes into the Premier League season with a Frank Lampard-led Everton side that is unsure of remaining in the league. Last term, they came close to bidding the top-flight goodbye but managed to survive late in the season.
For Iwobi, it will be expected that he maintains his current outstanding form, although the overall play of an Everton who are yet to replace a departed Richarlison and are struggling with an injured Dominic Calvert-Lewin, might hide his shine.
Hardball: Iwobi will put in an 8/10 performance this season. I predict his form to take slight deep between November and early February but pick again, to help deliver Everton from relegation like he did last season.
Frank Onyeka (Brentford)
Onyeka put in a fairly decent performance with the Bees in his debut season at the club, and first in the Premier League, making 20 appearances: 12 of which was as a starter. He scored one goal in the process.
This season however could be different, as Brentford might, unlike last season, end up in the tail-end of the league. Given how easily Onyeka dropped down the pecking order after his injury last season, it is uncertain how much he would be used this year, especially with new signings joining the squad.
Hardball: Onyeka will offer a 4/10 performance this season. I think he could come good for a 5 or 6 if given the chance. However, I foresee a Brentford relegation this season.
Joe Aribo (Southampton)
Aribo has already shown Southampton the stuff he is made of, following his first goal for the club in the pre-season.
Considering his elite performances for Rangers last season and Southampton’s 15th place finish in the Premier League, it is fair to say the club will experience some good with the Nigerian.
Hardball: Should he stay off injuries, Aribo will offer an 8/10 performance for Southampton. I think he will score five to eight goals (and contribute more) to help the Saints to a better mid-table finish this season.
Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City)
Last season, Iheanacho mostly struggled with offsetting Jamie Vardy off the sole-striker role due to the arrival of Patson Daka.
While that battle will go nowhere this year, he could get more playing time. Should that happen, we could see the Seniorman Kels who set the league on fire at the tail-end of the 2020/21 season, but this is not set in stone.
Hardball: Iheanacho’s performance this season will be solely dependent on Leicester’s cojones to sack Brendan Rodgers early enough. Should that happen, and the 25-year-old gets a ‘favourable manager’, he will come good with a 7/10 and possibly over 8 goals. If not, expect a 5/10 for Iheanacho with 7 or less goals.
Taiwo Awoniyi (Nottingham Forest)
Awoniyi comes into the Premier League with a massive reputation to score goals. Last season, he scored 15 in the Bundesliga.
However, this is not the Bundesliga, and this is not a European football seeking Union Berlin. This is a Nottingham Forest, but with the lost glory. A Nottingham Forest who have signed a lot of new players, so many, that they might struggle to find a balance.
Hardball: I cannot categorically say Awoniyi will be Forest’s first-choice striker, hence, lots of on and offs for him. Given his reputation, he will come good though, with a 7/10 performance for Forest, enough to keep them away from relegation. Imagine Awoniyi like Dennis in the Watford situation.
Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City)
Ndidi’s battles with injuries prevented the Premier League from savouring his expertise last season, as it used to in seasons past.
The midfielder has already shown signs of another injury-laden season and could be giving Leicester a reason to consider him a second-fiddle for the entirety of this season.
Hardball: Should Ndidi stay fit through the season, I say a 7/10. Should we get a half-season due to his injuries, he will offer us a 4/10 this year.
The Super Eagles likely to-bes
Carney Chukwuemeka (Chelsea)
Hardball: I don’t expect Chukwuemeka to get much playing time at a star-studded Chelsea. His future is bright, but given Chelsea’s reputation with starlets, I’d say a 5/10. I foresee a loan away from Stamford Bridge by January.
Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace)
Hardball: Eze has shown he can be the man to help Patrick Viera keep his job, and I expect to help him keep it again this season. He will come good with a 6/10 performance with more assists than goals for Crystal Palace.
Micheal Olise (Crystal Palace)
Hardball: Olise could have a breakout season this year. I’d say an 8/10 with lots of goals and assists from his midfield position. If he did a seven-goal contribution for the Eagles in the Premier League last season, double that figure for this season.
Tosin Adarabioyo (Fulham)
Hardball: Adarabioyo’s position makes it difficult for me to see a bright future for him this season. I believe Fulham will get relegated, and for that to happen, they’d concede lots of goals. Sadly, I’d say a 3/10.