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Most expensive Nigerian transfers in top 7 European leagues

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Nigerian players have been commanding quite massive transfer fees in recent years and Victor Osimhen could become the world’s second-most-expensive footballer this summer if he leaves Napoli.

Napoli president, Aurelio de Laurentiis has placed a staggering price tag of €200 million on Osimhen – if met by any club – will make him topple the transfer fee paid for Kylian Mbappé.

Nigerian players have in recent times made big-money moves. The Guardian’s Oluyemi Ogunseyin takes a look at the most expensive transfer of Nigerian players to the top seven leagues in Europe: English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, German Bundesliga, Belgian Jupiler Pro League, Dutch Eredivisie and French Ligue 1.

Victor Osimhen (Lille to Napoli – €75m)

Victor Osimhen spreads his arms wide in celebration of a Napoli title victory …on Thursday. Photo: BBCSports

Osimhen is the most expensive Nigerian player to complete a transfer to the Italian Serie A, having joined Napoli from LOSC Lille of France for a fee of €75m (as per Transfer Markt) in the summer of 2020.

He put pen to paper on a long-awaited five-year deal at Napoli with the move coming on the back of a wonderful campaign with Lille in the French Ligue 1 which saw him score 18 goals in the 2019/2020 season.

The 24-year-old who also won Lille’s Player of the Year award in his only season with them has only waxed stronger at Napoli whom he led to their first Serie A title since the 1989/90 season.

He netted 31 goals for the Partenopei in all competitions last term, 26 of which were in the league, thereby becoming the first African to finish as top-scorer and win the golden boot in the 147-year-old Serie A.

At €120m, he is the fourth most valuable player in the world behind Kylian Mbappé, Erling Haaland and Vinicius Jnr. Osimhen is joint-fourth in value with Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka and Real Madrid ace, Jude Bellingham, according to Transfermarkt.

Alex Iwobi (Arsenal to Everton – €30.4m)

Everton’s Nigerian midfielder Alex Iwobi takes a throw-in during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Chelsea at Goodison Park in Liverpool, north west England (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or ‘live’ services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /

Alexander Iwobi is the most expensive Nigerian player to complete a transfer to the Premier League and that came about when he left one English top-flight club for another after joining Everton from Arsenal in 2019.

Iwobi came through the ranks at Arsenal and made his debut in 2015 but despite going on to shine for the Gunners and scoring their only goal in 4-1 loss to Chelsea in the 2019 Europa League final, he left that summer.

Acording to Transfer Markt, Iwobi who made a shocking departure from the North London side to join the Merseyside club for a fee of €30.4m became the most expensive Nigerian at the start of the 2019/2020 season.

The move also made Iwobi the second most expensive Arsenal transfer sale in history after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s £34.2M switch to Liverpool in 2017. He has nine goals and 16 assists in 138 games in all for Everton.

Ademola Lookman (Everton to RB Leipzig – €18m)

Ademola Lookman of Atalanta in action during the Italian Serie A match between SS Lazio and Atalanta at Stadion Olimpico in Rome. (Photo: AFP)

Ademola Lookman is currently the most expensive Nigerian player to complete a transfer to the German Bundesliga with the winger making an exit from Everton to RB Leipzig for €18m (as per Transfer Markt) in the summer of 2019.

 

Lookman caught the attention of RB Leipzig and other potential suitors when he came to limelight at Everton in 2017. After spending the 2018/19 season on loan at Leipzig with five goals in eleven games, the club signed him permanently.

After a difficult year at Leipzig where he failed to hit the back of the net or render an assist in 13 appearances in all competitions in 2019/20, the 25-year-old joined Premier League side, Fulham on a season-long loan.

He was one of the better performers at the relegated Fulham, scoring seven times in 23 league appearances after which joined Leicester City on another season-long loan where he had eight goals and five assists in 42 games.

In total, the former England U-20 winger who is now a full-fledged Nigerian international bagged five goals and four assists in 24 matches for Leipzig before leaving for Atalanta BC in a deal worth €9.2m last year summer.

Umar Sadiq (Almeria to Real Sociedad – €20m)

Sadiq Umar

 

Umar Sadiq is the most expensive Nigerian player to complete a transfer to the La Liga and that move saw the lanky striker leave one Spanish club for another after joining Real Sociedad from La Liga SmartBank side, Almeria.

For two seasons, Sadiq was one of the best strikers and most valuable players in the Spanish Segunda Division, causing nightmares for opposing defenders in the colours of Almeria before joining Sociedad for €20m last year summer.

Sadiq’s 18 goals and 12 assists propelled Almeria to La Liga promotion at the end of the 2021-22 season. He netted 40 goals in 77 match appearances for the Spanish club before finally departing.

Sociedad swooped in for the Kaduna-born goalscorer after he scored a goal in two matches for Almeria in the Spanish top flight and after making a transfer to the Reale Arena, the 26-year-old continued from where he stopped.

The Super Eagles striker netted two goals in his first three matches for his new club before he suffered an unfortunate cruciate ligament rupture, an injury which ruled him out of action for the rest of the 2022/23 campaign.

Terem Moffi (Lorient – OGC Nice €22.5m)

Nice’s Nigerian forward Terem Moffi shoots the ball during the UEFA Europa Conference League Group Last 16 Second leg match between OGC Nice and Sheriff Tiraspol at the Allianz Riviera in Nice. (Photo: AFP)

Terem Moffi is the most expensive Nigerian player to complete a transfer to the Ligue 1 and that came about when he left one French top-flight club for another. He joined OGC Nice from FC Lorient on July 1, 2023.

The Super Eagles striker was on the wishlist of some English Premier League clubs but he opted to stay on in the French Ligue 1 where he is carving a goal-scoring reputation for himself.

As per French Football, the deal between Nice and Lorient was not a straight transfer but a mandatory paid loan of €2.5million with a €22.5 million (plus €5 million bonus) obligation to buy the Nigerian international attacker.

After impressing at Nice, the move was made permanent with his new club securing his services for €22.5m earlier this month, according to Transfer Markt with Moffi penning a four-year contract until 2027.

He scored twelve goals in 18 Ligue 1 games for Lorient last season before leaving his parent club for Nice where he went ahead to net six times and make three assists in 16 league matches.

Moffi scored 14 goals in 32 league games in his debut season for Lorient, only eight goals in 37 Ligue 1 matches in 2021/22 and with 18 more last campaign, he has 40 goals in all.

Since arriving in France from KV Kortrijk in 2020, Moffi has scored an impressive 40 goals and made ten assists in 103 Ligue 1 matches for both Lorient and Nice while his record in that country is 44 goals in 110 appearances.

Calvin Bassey (Rangers – Ajax €23m)

Union Berlin’s Tunisian midfielder Aissa Laidouni and Ajax’s Nigerian defender Calvin Bassey (R) vie for the ball during the UEFA Europa League play-off 2nd-leg football match between FC Union Berlin and Ajax Amsterdam in Berlin, on February 23, 2023. (Photo by John MACDOUGALL / AFP) (Photo by JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images)

Ajax Amsterdam, known for their appetite for young footballers, mainly to groom and sell to rich clubs, paid £25million for the services of Calvin Bassey at just 22.

In the process, he became the most expensive Super Eagles defender in history, the most expensive player Rangers sold, one who cost Ajax quite a fortune and the costliest Nigerian player to complete a transfer to the Dutch Eredivisie.

Bassey shot into limelight at Scottish club Glasgow Rangers in the two seasons he spent at the Ibrox. First, he helped the club wrestle the league title three seasons ago from Celtic who perceive it as an inheritance.

It was at that point scouts from other leagues began to keep an eye on the young defender. In the 2021/22 season, the 23-year-old helped Rangers to the final of the UEFA Europa League, which they lost on penalties to Eintracht Frankfurt.

All these made the former Ajax manager, Alfred Schreuder insist on having him as a replacement for Lisandro Martinez, who had earlier joined Manchester United in the 2022 transfer window.

Last season was Bassey’s first at the Johan Cryff Arena, and rather than how he could improve his game and further adapt to the football Philip of the club, the fee paid to get his services became the attention.

As soon as Schreuder was fired, John Heitinga, his replacement, also sent the Nigeria international to the bench.

Bassey, who had started the campaign well, gradually building confidence in a new environment where he had to justify the huge cash splashed on him, started only three of the last 16 matches of the season.

Raphael Onyedika (FC Midtjylland – Club Brugge €9.5m)

Raphael Onyedika…Photo; GettyImages copy

Raphael Onyedika became the most expensive Nigerian player to complete a transfer to the Belgian Jupiler Pro League on August 28, 2022 when he joined Club Brugge from FC Midtjylland of Denmark.

Onyedika, having impressed at Midtjylland sealed a move to Brugge for a fee of €9.5m, according to Transfer Markt with the midfielder signing a five-year contract until the summer of 2027.

The 22-year-old also hit the ground running at Brugge as he helped them become one of the biggest surprises in the Champions League group stage last season as the club qualified for the round of 16 after just four games played.

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