By Preye Campbell
Nigerian footballers are not hard to find when it comes to top tier football. These players share the stage with other top professionals from around the world. As such, it is reasonable to merge their height of professional football with the mammoth transfer tags around them.
More often than not, top tier clubs break the bank to secure the services of the stars of the Super Eagles and the latest exciting deal with Victor Osimhen is proof to that fact.
As Osimhen becomes the most expensive Nigerian player of all time and the most expensive African player of all time (eclipsing Nicolas Pepe’s Arsenal move), we take a look at other Nigerian stars to have warmed our list of top expensive players.
1. Victor Osimhen (Lille to Napoli – €81.3M)
Osimhen put pen to paper on a long awaited deal to Italian Series A club, Napoli last Friday. The mega deal came on the back of a scintillating season with French Ligue 1 club, LOSC Lille Metropolé. Osimhen joined Lille at the start of the 2019/2020 season and scored 18 goals while also picking up the club’s Player of the Year award. The 21 year old former Eaglets star comfortably sits at No.1.
2. Alex Iwobi (Arsenal to Everton – €44M)
Osimhen displaced Eagles attacker, Alex Iwobi for the number one spot. Iwobi became the most expensive Nigerian at the start of the 2019/2020 season when he swapped Arsenal for Merseyside club Everton. The somewhat surprising figure- €44M- proved enough for Carlo Ancelotti’s side to get their man. The deal made Iwobi the most expensive Arsenal transfer in history (surpassing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain £34.2M move to Liverpool in 2017).
3. Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City to Leicester City- €27M)
On the back of a golden FIFA U-17 World Cup performance in the United Arab Emirates in 2013, Kelechi Iheanacho sealed the move to English giants Manchester City. His impressive goalscoring ratio while seeing few minutes at the Etihad saw him switch to East Midlands side Leicester City in 2017. It took City €27M to make the deal happen.
4. Ademola Lookman (Everton to RB Leipzig- €24.5M)
Ademola Lookman caught the attention of potential suitors when he burst through the ranks at Everton in 2017. After spending the 2018/19 season on loan at German Bundesliga club RB Leipzig (registering eleven appearances and five goals), the club decided to make the move permanent, resulting into a €24.5M fee. Lookman is on this list as he remains eligible to represent the Super Eagles despite his youth international appearances for England.
5. Odion Ighalo (Watford to Changchun Yatai- €22M)
Odion Jude Ighalo is currently making history and living his dream at Manchester United. But before then, the retired Eagle made a different kind of history after sealing a €22M move to Chinese Super League club Changchun Yatai from Watford in January 2017.He switched from Changchun Yatai to Shanghai Shenhua in 2019 and is still represented by his parent club as he moved out on loan to United in January 2020.
6. John Obi Mikel (Lyn Oslo to Chelsea- €20M)
Former Super Eagles captain John Obi Mikel is level with Ighalo at €20M. Mikel became the most expensive Nigerian player in 2006 when he moved to Chelsea from Lyn Oslo in a famous transfer U-turn from Chelsea rivals Manchester United. Mikel became a long serving member of the Blues and tasted both domestic and European success. He has since plied his trade across China, a return to England and Turkey.
7. Ahmed Musa ( CSKA Moscow to Leicester City- €19.5M)
Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa takes a spot in this list after then UB record transfer to Leicester in 2016. €19.5M was enough to prise the winger from Russian champions CSKA Moscow. Musa has since then decided to ply his trade in the U.A.E sandwiche sandwiches between a return to CSKA.
8. Wilfred Ndidi (Genk to Leicester City – €17.6M)
It is expected that Leicester City’s midfield general Wilfred Ndidi will move up the rankings soon given his rise in stock as a player in the last season. No move is imminent yet, leaving the former Genk player at the eighth spot. Ndidi joined Leicester from the Belgian side in the January transfer window of 2017 for €17.6M.
9. Yakubu Aiyegbeni (Middleborough to Everton – €16.5M)
While it is almost impossible to separate the name Yakubu Aiyegbeni from that agonizing miss at the 2010 FIFA World Cup tournament in South Africa, we can still opine that ‘The Yak’ is one of the most successful Nigerian players. And that was made evident in his big money move to Everton from English club Middleborough for €16.5M in 2007. The Yak is now retired after last playing for Coventry City in 2017.
10. Obafemi Martins (Inter Milan to Newcastle United – €16M)
Perhaps the most successful of the lot, Obafemi Martins was a man in demand everywhere he went. In 2006, Martins sealed a €16M big money move to Newcastle United from Italian Serie A giants Inter Milan.
Obagoal, who moved to Europe as a 16 year old in 2000, has had an envious career and sits as one of the richest footballers in the nation. The 35 year old has played in Italy, England, Germany, Russia, Spain, the United States of America and is currently lining up for Shanghai Shenhua in China.