All Nigeria Soccer Special: Nigeria's Top 50 Youngsters - 30 to 21

Published: December 06, 2012
All Nigeria Soccer Special: Nigeria's Top 50 Youngsters - 30 to 21Nigeria's Top 50 Youngsters

30) Rabiu Ibrahim (Glasgow Celtic, Scotland)
Age: 21
Market Value: €400,000
Comments: The old fashioned play-maker was considered the natural successor to Augustine Okocha in the National Team. But he has failed to live up to his wonder - kid tag. The sour point is that he made some wrong decisions earlier in his career. Now plying his trade with Scottish giants Celtic, he's nowhere near the first team now or in the nearest future. There is no debate about his potential. Having failed to cope with the physical demands of British football, a loan deal to a lower division club may bring a spark to his career.

29) Derick Chuka Ogbu (Oud-Heverlee Leuven, Belgium)
Age: 22
Market Value: €800,000
Comments: Ogbu could have had a higher market value, but his contract with OHL expires in the summer of 2013. The ex Enugu Ranger caused a storm in this past summer transfer market. Clubs in Germany, Spain, Holland (PSV) and Italy(Atalanta, Udinese and Chivo Verona) were ready to prise the youngster away from OHL, but he chose to remain in Belgium to continue his development. What makes Ogbu an exciting prospect is that he is not just a goalscorer, he also creates chances for his teammates.

Former Barcelona and Chelsea Assistant, Coach Henk ten Cate, who once managed Derick Ogbu at Qatari club Umm Salal, describes him as one of the promising youngsters in world football. And we agree with his verdict. Ogbu's name is still being mentioned in the corridors of power at PSV, and the Dutch giants could come back for him soon.

28) Jerry Mbakogu (Juve Stabia, Italy)
Age: 20
Market Value: €500,000
Comments: The Italian - Nigerian striker is widely regarded as one of the hottest commodities in the Serie B. The question remains, how long can Juve Stabia keep this jewel in their fold? For some time now, Mbakogu has been on the radar of Serie A clubs notably Fiorentina, Torino and Palermo. Might not be too popular in his country of birth, but Mbakogu is seen as one of the future stars of Nigeria football and should be invited to any of the National Teams soon before he is convinced to play for Italy.  Has good qualities - pace and dribbling skills - and is expected to be one of the top stars in the game in the next five years.

27) Gbenga Arokoyo(Mjällby, Sweden)
Age: 20
Market Value: €400,000
Comments: The former Kwara Academy star was a big hit for Mjällby last season.  Despite playing only 10 games in the Allsvenskan, Arokoyo is on the wanted list of Europe's top teams including Benfica, Lille, OGC Nice and Twente. People usually complain about the Nigeria defense. One player who can restore order to the back line is Arokoyo. Touted as the 'New Joseph Yobo'. Has excellent technical ability, good in the air and can cover several roles in defense.

26) Imoh Ezekiel(Standard Liege, Belgium)
Age: 19
Market Value: €1,500,000
Comments: Many are tipping Imoh Ezekiel for a big future. The teenager is the biggest export to come out from the stable of 36 Lion Academy, Lagos, even bigger than Raheem Lawal. His performances in the Jupiler League, especially this season where he has notched 8 goals in 14 matches, has attracted the attention of some of Europe's heavyweights. Genoa, Club Brugge, Anderlecht, Dynamo Kiev and Lokomotiv Moscow are believed to be monitoring his progress. To keep away the vultures, Standard Liege are about offering him a new contract with improved wages. His outstanding performances for The Reds is expected to earn him a merited call up to the Nigeria Under 20 team.

25) Dele Adeleye (Tavriya, Ukraine)
Age: 23
Market Value: €1,000,000
Comments: When pundits are discussing defenders for the future, one name that must be highlighted is Dele Adeleye. He had impressed for the youth teams of Nigeria - the Under 20 and Olympic Team. By now, he ought to have established himself in the Super Eagles, but his club career has been sketchy in the last couple of months . As a result, he has been ignored for selection by coach Stephen Keshi.

Adeleye is a tall powerful central defender, good aerially and commands the defense excellently. On the flip side, he is prone to making schoolboy errors. His transition from Sparta Rotterdam to Metallurg Donetsk did not tick the right boxes. Managed by influential agent, Dimitri Seluk, a move to Russia is being mooted with Dynamo Moscow and Kuban said to be interested in his signature.

24) Leon Balogun (Fortuna Düsseldorf, Germany)
Age: 24
Market Value:
Comment: Second time in succession Leon is making our list. Known to score vital goals from his defensive position, the German - Nigerian has drawn comparisons with Barcelona super - star Gerard Pique. If anybody doubted the ability of Balogun, his recent displays in the Bundesliga against Eintracht Franfurt and champions Borussia Dortmund made the whole world sit up and take notice of his credentials. There is banter that he could be considered for the 2013 African Cup of Nations. He's never played for the youth teams of Germany, so there is no need for too much paperwork. ''I would be very proud to play for the Super Eagles some day, since my father would be very proud.,'' the versatile defender told

23) Solomon Owello (IK Start, Norway)
Age: 23
Market Value: €1,500,000
Comments: Since his exploits at the Fifa Under 20s back in 2007, Owello has never been considered worthy of an invite to the Super Eagles. Given the dearth of genuine play-makers in the squad, he deserves a call up. Though primarily operates as an attacking midfielder, the ex Niger Tornado can cover several roles in midfield and has been used as a winger in the Norwegian championship. Resisted offers from Norway and abroad to continue his collaboration with IK Start. He was officially chosen as the best player in Norway's second  - tier in the just concluded season.  Though he has good dribbling skills and technique, needs to work on the physical side of his game.

22) Sylvester Igbonu(FC Midtjylland, Denmark)
Age: 22
Market Value: €3,000,000
Comments: Considered one of the biggest stars at Danish club FCM. The ex FC Ebedei talent is an intelligent player and has good physical presence like most Nigerian forwards. Not a tag that is often used, Igbonu has been hailed as 'The Next Samson Siasia'. Already being chased by a host of clubs in Belgium, Turkey and Germany. He is regarded as Nigeria's biggest export to Denmark since Oluwafemi Ajilore. Out injured, he is expected to come back stronger after the winter break.

21) John Chibuike (Rosenborg, Norway)
Age: 24
Market Value: €2,000,000
Comments: Chibuike is one of the latest talents to emerge from Enugu Rangers. The former BK Hacken star is a complete midfielder, can play defensive, offensive midfield and behind the main striker. And this suggests there is hope for Nigeria after Kalu Uche. Following Chibuike's move to RBK in the summer of 2011, it did not take him long to start terrorizing defenses in Norway. In his home debut, he scored a remarkable hat - trick against IK Start. Despite struggling for most part of the 2012 season with a groin complaint, he netted four times in the Tippeligaen. He is a combative player ala Sunday Oliseh and has all the qualities to dominate a midfield.

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