Four takeaways from Onyekuru's Everton move
Nigeria international striker Henry Onyekuru is set to become the latest addition to Everton's impressive young team once his £7million transfer from KAS Eupen in Belgium is made official.
Reports emerged on Tuesday claiming a deal had been struck, and the 20-year-old pre-empted an official announcement on Thursday by posting a picture of himself in front of an Everton crest.
While official confirmation has not yet been forthcoming, KweséESPN highlights four takeaways from the reported move, which if completed adds to an ever-growing Super Eagles presence in the Premier League.
After being courted by a host of Premier League clubs who apparently triggered his £6.8million release clause, he surprisingly settled on Everton. The initial projection was a move to a London club, with Arsenal at the top of the list. A desire for first-team football obviously played a significant role in his choice of club, which has seen him sign for the blue half of Merseyside.
2. One for the future
News that Onyekuru was going to be loaned out next season by Everton came as a bit of a shock, especially given the fact he was to return to Belgium! Here is a player who earlier in January unsuccessfully tried to engineer a move away from the Jupiler League, and it had to take several efforts - both pleasant and unpleasant antics - from the Eupen president to deny him a transfer at that time, ultimately forcing the player to issue an apology.
Agreed, Anderlecht are the champions of Belgium - and the experience of playing in the prestigious UEFA Champions League will be a valuable one that can't be over-emphasised - but the fact that Everton didn't pay top pound to enable him to secure a work-permit clearly shows they regard him as one for the future.
3. Absence of NPFL stars in England
For the umpteenth time, a Nigerian player without prior experience in the Nigerian Professional Football League has joined an English Premier League club, a rising trend which must be urgently addressed. Save for Ahmed Musa - who seven years ago was on the books of Kano Pillars - Kelechi Iheanacho, Isaac Success and Wilfred Ndidi are all youngsters who recently signed for Premier League clubs with no Nigerian League affiliations or records.
Onyekuru was playing for a local academy in Onitsha before he moved to the ASPIRE Academy in Senegal. It's a clear challenge to the League Management Company, who must ensure the top talents in Nigeria find their way to the Premier League.
4. Fifth Super Eagle to become a Toffee
Onyekuru becomes the fifth Nigerian international to sign a professional contract with Everton. He follows a rich Super Eagles tradition which includes Daniel Amokachi, Joseph Yobo, Victor Anichebe and Yakubu Aiyegbeni, who have all at some point in their careers plied their trade for the Merseyside team.
Onyekuru is an entirely different player in style of play to the other Nigerian forwards who have donned Everton's colours: Amokachi, Anichebe and Aiyegbeni. All three were regarded as 'bulls' on the pitch, but in Onyekuru you have a skilful, quick and prolific forward who is adept at playing anywhere across the front line. Surely, one for Evertonians to hold dear to their hearts in the coming years.