Top 10 Nigerian footballers in 2022-23 football season: Osimhen and more

From Jay Jay Okocha & Nwankwo Kanu to Joseph Yobo & Obafemi Martin to Asisat Oshoala & Victor Osimhen, Nigeria keeps proving to be the African country that produces the most exceptional players.
Victor Osimhen is the best Nigerian footballer this season

Victor Osimhen is the best Nigerian footballer this season

by   Alex Weaver

Nigerian footballers are talented, tenacious, and competitive, striving to win championships wherever they play. They are loved by the supporters due to their personality outside of the game. Legendary Nigerian athletes have competed for the national team and other elite clubs in Europe and other parts of the world for many years.

Little wonder the national team has won the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) about three times — making it the fourth most successful team in the competition.

Even today, the Giant of Africa has several elite footballers who are playing in top leagues around the world. In this article, we discuss the top 10 Nigerian footballers, both men and women, who will make their supporters proud this 2022-23 football season in the English Premier League, La Liga Primera, French Ligue 1, Italian Serie A and Turkish Super Lig.

10. Asisat Oshoala (FC Barcelona)

Born 9 October 1994, this superwoman has been nothing short of amazing. She plays as a striker for FC Barcelona Femini in the Primera Division and for the Nigerian national women tem. Before being signed into Barca in 2019, she had played for topflight English clubs — Liverpool, in 2015 and Arsenal, between 2016 and 2017.

This season, the Super Falcon has only played three matches at the Primera Division Women. However, she has already managed to net a goal. Last season, despite her reduced playtime due to injuries, she was able to directly send 19 shots into the net and assist three others, in 26 matches.

Oshoala was the first African woman to win the UEFA Champions League in 2021. And about a year after, became the first African woman to be awarded the Pichichi Trophy. Her biggest feat so far is being nominated for the prestigious Ballon d’Or award — again, a feat no other African woman has achieved.

Owing to an injury, she couldn’t play for long at the WAFCON. However her track record of mind-blowing excellence has earned her a spot on this list.

9. Joe Aribo (Southampton)

Joe Aribo started playing as a midfielder for Premier League club, Southampton, in 2022. Before being purchased by the English team, he played as a free agent for minor clubs like Rangers (between 2019 and 2022) and Charlton Athletic (between 2016 and 2019). In the course of his career as a professional footballer, he has appeared in 277 matches; finding the back of the net 44 times.

Eyes turned towards the Nigerian, in his new club, after he made an impressive run and finish, in a preseason friendly against Villarreal.

The 26-year old has played five matches (plus three matches as a sub) for Southampton, this season. And he has managed to score two goals, so far. He shows great attack skills, boasting 100% shots on target.

He had a strong debut with the Super Eagles, scoring twice in four appearances. Since his arrival in 2019, the Southampton midfielder has consistently contributed to the team. A skilled box-to-box midfielder with an eye for goal, he scored in an international friendly against none other than Brazil in October of the same year.

8. Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal)

Chukwueze plays in the midfield position and has been in Spain ever since moving up to the senior squad from the youth team, in 2018. In his present team, Villarreal, the youngster has played in five seasons. In these seasons, he has 27 goals in 177 matches to his name.

This season, Chukwueze has managed to put three goals into the net for his team, in the Europa Conference League and La Liga Friendlies.

In 2019, the Igbo man took part in the AFCON hosted in Egypt, on the Nigerian senior squad. It was in this match that he scored his first senior goal for the country, in the win against South Africa. Since then, he has gone on to win over 20 caps for the Super Eagles. He’s one of the most rated players at the AFCON Qualifiers this year, despite not yet finding the back of the net.

His playing style has been compared to that of Arjen Robben and the impressive reputation he has built qualifies him to be on this list.

7. Emmanuel Dennis (Nottingham Forest)

Born 15 November 1997, the 24-year old returned to the Premier League in August. He started his senior career in Zorya (in 2016) before moving to Belgian Champion, Club Brugge. He played for the club between 2017 and 2021, and scored 29 goals in 116 appearances. He joined Watford, which was relegated last season, in 2021 and also found the back of the net 10 times in 37 matches.

In August 2022, the Super Eagle landed in Nottingham Forest, where he has gone on to strike for the club in five matches, so far.

Dennis has won seven caps for the Nigerian national team and scored his first and only goal in the country’s phenomenal 10-0 defeat of Sao Tome and Principe, this year.

6. Alex Iwobi (Everton)

Iwobi has spent his whole senior career in the English Premier League, playing (between 2013 and 2019) in 149 matches for Arsenal. He joined Everton in 2019 and is now looking forward to his 107th match in the club. He has scored a total of 22 goals in his senior career.

The 2022/23 season’s first eight Premier League games has seen Alexander Chuka Iwobi stand out as Everton’s top player. He has not scored any goal for the team this season; but has helped with three assists. The Nigerian, who was formerly viewed as a stark illustration of Everton’s misplaced spending during the Farhad Moshiri period, is now regarded as an indispensable member of Frank Lampard’s team. His name is regularly sung across the Goodison Park terraces.

Iwobi has been nominated as Premier League player of the month and has won several player of the match awards. Given the 26-year old’s indefatigable running and impressive workrate, he is easily one of the most solid players on the Nigerian national squad.

In just two matches for the Super Eagles this season, he has already netted a goal.

5. Ahmed Musa (Sivasspor)

Ahmed Musa is the Super Eagles captain. Before moving to Sivasspor in 2022, the winger held a record of four goals in 34 matches for Fathi Karagumuruk, where he was between 2021 and 2022. He has played in several national leagues in countries such as England, Russia, Holland and even Saudi Arabia. He was part of the Al Nassr XI that in 2019, won both the Saudi Super Cup and the Saudi Premier League.

Musa is the first Nigerian to net more than one goal in a FIFA World Cup H2H — a feat he achieved in the 2014 match against Argentina. He is also the first member of the national team to find the back of the net in two World Cups. The 29-year old has appeared in about 107 matches for Nigeria and has scored 16 goals.

He might not be exceptional but his speed combined with his dribbling abilities make him worthy of this list. His senior career has seen him make about 355 appearances, during which he has scored 89 goals.

4. Moses Simon (Nantes)

Simon surpassed Messi’s stat and matched that of Neymar, on the opening day of Ligue 1 this season. With an impressive six key passes, the highest from any player on the league’s opening day, only Neymar could match the Nigerian.

He has been a key winger for Nantes since he initially joined on a loan deal in 2019. A season later, he became a permanent signing. This season, the Nigerian helped the team record its first league goal in its victory over Toulouse.

As of September 2022, he had provided over 23 assists and scored over 24 goals in more than 109 appearances for Nantes. This season, he has played in seven matches, scored three goals and assisted another.

At national level too, he has been nothing short of a sensation. Having played in just two matches, he has scored a goal and assisted an impressive three. It’s safe to say he’s one of the best playmakers in the Super Eagles squad.

3. Ademola Lookman (Atalanta)

Ademola Lookman is a winger in his mid-twenties, who was able to net eight goals in 42 appearances while on loan, last season at Leicester City. During his time in RB Leipzig (from 2019 to 2020), he made 24 appearances during which he scored five goals.

This year, the former Everton and Charlton Athletic player seems to have now found home in Italian Serie A powerhouse, Atalanta. This season, he has made eight appearances for the team — during which he scored two goals and made an assist.

Lookman won with the English U-20 team in 2017. However, in February 2022, he decided to be patriotic to the country of his parents — Nigeria. Since then, he has stopped at nothing to blow our minds. He has played in two matches at the AFCON Qualifiers, during which he scored a goal and assisted another.

2. Terem Moffi (Lorient)

In the French Ligue 1, only Neymar has scored higher than Moffi, the new Nigerian star who has netted six times in his first nine appearances. It’s more exciting to note that the 23-year old is not just scoring; his direct running and speed make up some of the league’s most intimidating player abilities. Moffi has made a total of 131 appearances in his senior career and had netted 55 balls, in total.

Before getting signed into Lorient in 2020, the forward had played for Riteriai (between 2019 and 2020) and Kortrijk in 2020, among others — scoring 20 goals and 5 goals in 31 and 11 appearances respectively.

This year, he has scored two goals and created three chances in just two matches of the AFCON Qualifiers. Given his young age and exceptional abilities, this Nigerian might just become one of the next global football stars, soon enough.

1. Victor Osimhen (Napoli)

Osimhen’s first season in Napoli saw him put 10 balls into the net, in 30 appearances. About a year later, a head injury that required surgery affected his efficiency. In spite of this, he was able to appear in 32 Napoli games, during which he scored 18 goals and assisted six.

This season, the 23-year old is on fire. In five matches, he has scored two goals and assisted one. He has also created six chances.

This fantastic striker is in a class of his own. He started his senior career in Germany with VfL Wolfsburg, in 2017. After spending a season and a half with the team, he moved on loan to Charleroi in Belgium, where he stayed till 2019. The same year, the Nigerian joined Lille in France. Osimhen moved to Serie A team Napoli in 2020 for a club-record €70 million. Last season, he was named the Best Young Player in Serie A.

He was also given the FIFA U-17 World Cup Golden Boot award in 2015. He participated in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and made his senior international debut in June 2017.

The striker is the second-best rated player in the national team, having scored five goals and made two assists in just two matches at the 2022/23 AFCON qualifiers.

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