Biggest Nigerian moves of last five years

Over the last five years, Nigerian footballers have been making significant moves across Europe, capturing the attention of fans and football enthusiasts alike. These players have climbed the ladder of success by transitioning to bigger and more prestigious teams, showcasing their talent and potential along the way. In this article, PUNCH Sports Extra takes a look at some of the biggest Nigerian moves of the last half-decade.

Victor Osimhen (Lille to Napoli)

In 2020, Victor Osimhen’s move from Lille to Napoli shook the football world, making him the most expensive African transfer at the time. Napoli paid a staggering fee of €70m, potentially rising to €80m with add-ons, to secure the services of the talented striker.

Osimhen had just enjoyed a remarkable season with Lille, scoring 18 goals in his debut campaign in the French Ligue 1.

This move marked a giant leap for Osimhen, transitioning from a mid-tier French club to a prominent Serie A side like Napoli. In Italy, he continued his impressive goal-scoring form and won the Serie A Best Young Player award in the 2021/22 season then following that up with Scudetto and golden boot success in the 2022/23 campaign. Osimhen’s success in Italy solidified his position as one of Nigeria’s finest football exports and established him as a key figure in Napoli’s attacking lineup.

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Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal to Milan)

Chukwueze’s transfer from Villarreal to AC Milan on Thursday, July 27 is the biggest move of this summer for a Nigerian. The talented winger had a stellar season with Villarreal, contributing 13 goals and 11 assists in 50 matches. AC Milan, one of Italy’s most illustrious football clubs, recognized his potential and signed him to a four-year deal.

Chukwueze’s move from Spain to Italy represented a significant step up in his career, as he joined a club with a rich history and a strong tradition of success in both domestic and European competitions. With his impressive pace and dribbling skills, Chukwueze added a new dimension to Milan’s attacking prowess.

Chukwueze helped Villarreal clinch the UEFA Europa League during the 2020/21 season and he will be targeting more success with Milan.

Odion Ighalo (Shanghai Shenhua to Manchester United)

In January 2020, Odion Ighalo’s dream of playing for Manchester United became a reality when he joined the Premier League giants on loan from Shanghai Shenhua. Ighalo, a lifelong United fan, seized the opportunity to play for his beloved club and even took a pay cut to make the move happen.

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Ighalo’s move to Old Trafford marked a remarkable turnaround in his career, as he returned to the Premier League after previous successful stints at Watford. The Nigerian striker’s brief tenure with Manchester United allowed him to contribute to the team’s attack and fulfill his dream of representing the club he admired since childhood.

Calvin Bassey (Rangers to Ajax)

Calvin Bassey’s potential was evident during his time at Rangers, where he played a vital role in the team’s run to the 2022 UEFA Europa League Final. Ajax, recognizing his potential, secured his services in 2022 for a club-record fee of around £20m.

Bassey’s move from Scotland to the Netherlands was a significant move up the ladder for the young defender. Ajax, known for developing and nurturing talents, provided him with a platform to further showcase his skills and grow as a player.

Bassey’s £19m move from Glasgow to Netherlands saw him become Nigeria’s most expensive defender in history.

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The 22-year-old joined Rangers from Leicester for a nominal fee of £230,000 two years ago, departs for the biggest fee the Scottish side has received for a player in their history.

Victor Boniface (Union Saint-Gilloise to Leverkusen)

Victor Boniface’s completes his move to Bayer Leverkusen last weekend on July 22. The talented striker signed a five-year contract with the prestigious German club, making him one of the promising Nigerian talents to watch.

The deal is believed to be worth in excess of €20m plus add-ons.

His impressive performances, including a standout display against Leverkusen in the UEFA Europa League, caught the attention of the Bundesliga outfit. Boniface’s move to Leverkusen represents a major leap in his career, providing him with an opportunity to compete at the highest level of German football.

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