Samuel Chukwueze: Nigeria's Next Big Soccer Star?
Published: July 09, 2020
Samuel Chukwueze: Nigeria's Next Big Soccer Star?In recent years, increasing numbers of African footballers have transferred to play in some of the world’s most-watched leagues.

From La Liga to the Premier League, the contemporary era of football is proving advantageous to players from the globe’s second most-populous continent.

In addition to the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, for example, there seems to have been a recent emergence of African attacking talent over the last few seasons.

Most noticeably, this generation may have produced Nigeria’s next big football star in the form of Samuel Chukwueze.

While, of course, there are no guarantees that he will become the next Jay-Jay Okocha, the 21-year-old is undoubtedly establishing himself as a rising star of African football.

So, let’s take a look at the Villarreal attacker and consider what his future may hold.

An Emerging African Talent at Villarreal

During the early stages of his career, the five-foot-eight winger began his youth career with Diamond Football Academy.

Having spent five years with his local side, Chukwueze joined Villarreal for a reported $562,000 in 2017.

Fundamentally, it’s been in the province of Castellon that the Umuahia-born attacker has been able to showcase his on-field abilities.

Throughout his early years, it’s believed that Chukwueze idolized Okocha, and that’s evident within his attack-minded style of play.

According to his profile at WhoScored
, the 21-year-old's approach to soccer is centered around his close control, with dribbling being one of his most impressive attributes.

Crucially, his flair while in possession proved pivotal to Villarreal securing a much-needed victory over Mallorca back in June.

In a match that the Yellow Submarine needed to win, Chukwueze was the most influential player on the pitch, providing the match-winning assist for Carlos Bacca.

Although he has been used in numerous positions following his emergence at Villarreal, his heat map from the game against Mallorca illustrates that he’s a natural winger who likes to hug the touchline.

As the graphic at the official La Liga website
shows, from matchday 29, the 21-year-old spent the majority of the game adopting a wide position down the right flank.

Fundamentally, this enables him to come inside and play long, searching passes beyond opposition defenses, which is another of his strengths.

Linked with a Move to England’s Top Flight

In the modern era of football, a whole host of African-born soccer players have transferred to the English Premier League.

Along with Mane and Salah, Alex Iwobi, Riyad Mahrez, and Wilfred Ndidi, who has been deemed as unsellable by Leicester City, are just a few other examples to showcase this point.

Even though there are no guarantees that Chukwueze will ever play in England’s top-flight division, he continues to be linked to a whole host of Premier League clubs.

The tricky winger, who helped to make the breakthrough in Villarreal’s 1-0 victory over Celta Vigo at the Estadio Municipal de Balaidos earlier in the season, has reportedly attracted interest from both Chelsea and the reigning English champions, Liverpool.

Given that he grew up watching Okocha, it’s likely that a move to the Premier League would interest the 21-year-old.

That said, Chukwueze announced back in April that Chelsea are his favorite English club.

According to reports by France Football, Jurgen Klopp’s side had a bid of around $36.8 million rejected back in January for the highly-rated winger.

It’s believed that the Yellow Submarine will only allow him to depart should his $73.5 million release clause be met.

Intriguingly, with Willian and Pedro both set to leave the Blues come the expiration of their contracts, Chelsea, who are currently 1.36 to secure a top-four finish with Betway come the end of the season, as of July 7th, may be tempted to move for Chukwueze to bolster their squad so they can compete on multiple fronts.

The Talent to Reach the Pinnacle of Soccer

While there are no guarantees that this will occur in the Premier League, it’s undeniable that the 21-year-old has the attributes to thrive in English soccer.

Much like his idol, Okocha, Chukwueze is quick, tricky, and has an eye for goal. With those traits in his locker, the winger will be a problem for defenses throughout Europe for much of his professional career.

Ifeanyi Emmanuel
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