Editorial Top Stories

Eagles’ declining fortunes and transfer window

On October 5, the 2020 summer transfer window ended across Europe, but within England, it is still open till October 16. Premier League clubs splashed £1.24 billion on 105 permanent signings during the period.

Despite global financial uncertainty and fans still not being allowed back into the stadia, hundreds of millions of pounds were spent by Premier League clubs. The focus of our evaluation of the transfer window is on England, because it is the desired destination for most Nigerian players since many fans back home prefer the EPL to other leagues. We are, however, concerned about the movement of Nigerian players and their ratings in their clubs.

Young striker, Victor Osimhen, moved from Lille FC to Napoli with £70 million, which is a club record for the Italian team and a record move for any Nigerian player. Osimhen’s move was the biggest news for the country all through the window. Moses Simon did well with Nantes and got a permanent deal, while Victor Moses moved from Chelsea to Inter Milan.

We recall that other moves and status of the top players were not good enough to justify the high rating of the country on the continent. Eagles Skipper, Ahmed Musa, is with Al Nassr of Saudi Arabia, while defender, William Troost Ekong, moved from Udinese to English championship side, Watford. Other defenders – Chigozie Awaziem and Kenneth Omeruo – were relegated with Leganes from La Liga to the second tier in Spanish topflight.

Left back, Jamilu Collins, is of German Bundesliga 2 outfit SC Padeborn 07, while Semi Ajayi is of West Bromwich Albion, a newly-promoted team. Ola Aina will be in Fulham along with two other players of Nigeria decent, Ademola Lookman and Tosin Adarabioyo. Super Eagles’ target, Eberechi Eze, joined Crystal Palace from Scottish Premier League side, QPR. It is sad that 80 per cent of the current players are in lowly rated teams.

A former international, Garba Lawal, says this is a serious cause for concern for the country, especially looking at the future. We agree totally with the former Eagles’ star because the fortunes of the country’s top players are on the decline. Although, this is not new, but it is becoming more prevalent in recent times.

We charge Eagles’ stars to raise their game and be counted among the big players during transfer window. It was a shock that a great player like Wilfred Ndidi of Leicester was not involved in the transfer activities and this, we believe, was due to bad management by his agent. Nigerian players need better education to be able to compete keenly with their counterparts abroad.

Generally, transfer season is a very interesting period in the football world. It is the time players can be evaluated in terms of value and worth in the market. A very good player can move to another team after just a year on current deal, while some who are very hot might not move because their value will be so high that interested bidders will think twice before approaching their current clubs for their signatures.

Lionel Messi of Barcelona, Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus, Neymar of PSG, Kylian Mbappe of PSG, Robert Lewandoski of Bayern and Harry Kane of Tottenham are in this category. German forward, Kai Havertz, was the most expensive player, costing Chelsea £71 million. The Blues spent £222 million and sold £66.2 million in the window.

Timo Werner (£48 million), Ben Chilwell (£45 million), Hakim Ziyech (£36 million) and Edouard Mendy (£22 million) joined the team as well. Thiago Silva and Malang Sarr also joined on free transfers, while the biggest fee received was the £50 million from Atletico Madrid for Alvaro Morata. Pep Guadiola’s Manchester City spent £138.6 million and sold £67.7 million during the transfer window. The team spent money on Portuguese centre-back, Ruben Dias and former Chelsea man, Nathan Ake, who can play in the middle or as a full-back. Struggling Manchester United spent £87 million and sold £13.6 million. Their deals came late with Edinson Cavani joining on a free, Amad Diallo (£19 million), Alex Telles (£18 million) and Facundo Pellistri (£10 million) on deadline day. They also spent £40 million on bringing midfielder, Donny van de Beek, from Ajax earlier in the window.

The Red Devils made £13.6 million on deadline day with the sale of Chris Smalling. Rejuvenated Arsenal sold £20 million during the window. The Gunners spent £27 million on Brazilian defender, Gabriel, while the deadline day signing of Thomas Partey for £45 million took their total spending to £77.7 million. Mikel Areta also signed Willian on a free transfer from rivals, Chelsea. Goalkeeper, Emiliano Martinez, joined Aston Villa for £20 million.

Current EPL kings, Liverpool, spent £76.7 million and sold £37.71 million. The Reds signed Kostas Tsimikas from Olympiakos, Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich and Diogo Jota from Wolves. They made money by selling Rhian Brewster, Dejan Lovren and Ki- Jana Hoever.

We again salute the industry of Oshimen who stood out during the window and charge other players to emulate the Napoli forward with focus and hardwork. Eagles’ stars should seek advice on how agents and the individual staff members of other players abroad help in raising their profiles on a daily basis.

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