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Saka, Adebayor, Kanu: Arsenal’s finest gamers of Nigerian descent

Arsenal has a wealthy historical past of proficient gamers of Nigerian descent who’ve made important contributions to the membership. From the dazzling abilities of Nwankwo Kanu to the mesmerizing cleverness of Bukayo Saka, these gamers have left their mark on the Gunners’ legacy.

PUNCH Sports Extra takes a take a look at some gamers of Nigeria descent who’ve donned the color of the London membership

  1. Chuba Akpom

London-born striker Chuba Akpom holds twin UK and Nigerian citizenship – each of his mother and father are from Nigeria – and he was as soon as considered one of many high prospects in Arsenal’s Hale End academy.

Akpom was simply six years outdated when he joined the Arsenal academy ranks in 2002 and ultimately made the breakthrough into the primary staff beneath Arsene Wenger, however he left having performed simply 12 video games with no targets in addition.

However, the ahead exploded throughout the 2022-23 Championship season with Middlesbrough, notching a league-high 28 targets and incomes himself a marquee transfer to Ajax, the place he additionally hit double figures in his debut Eredivisie season.

Formerly representing England from U-16 to U-21 degree, Akpom is but to be capped by a senior nationwide staff however has declared allegiance to Nigeria.

  1. Folarin Balogun

While Akpom remains to be awaiting the telephone name from the Nigerian Football Federation, his fellow attacker Balogun – who additionally starred for England at youth degree – opted to go in the wrong way and don the United States shirt.

Born in New York to Nigerian mother and father, Balogun was simply eight years outdated when he was invited to coach at Arsenal’s famed academy, however as was the case with Akpom, his Gunners profession was modest at finest.

Failing to switch his prolific youth kind right into a glut of senior targets, Balogun netted simply twice in 10 video games for the primary staff however was one other sudden success story within the 2022-23 Ligue 1 season with Reims, notching 21 targets.

The American didn’t hit the identical heights in his first marketing campaign with Monaco, however he nonetheless had a direct hand in 15 targets in 32 matches throughout all tournaments and is a fully-fledged member of the USA nationwide staff.

  1. Alex Iwobi

Iwobi was simply 4 years outdated when he relocated to English shores, having additionally momentarily grown up in Turkey.

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Another graduate of Arsenal’s Hale End community, Iwobi racked up 149 appearances for the Gunners – scoring 15 targets and organising 24 extra – and thrived beneath the tutelage of Unai Emery throughout the Spaniard’s ill-fated spell in cost.

Iwobi by no means achieved undisputed starter standing in North London, although, and he was bought to Everton for £25.7m in the summertime of 2019, making him one in every of Arsenal’s most costly departures of all time.

Now a squad participant at Fulham, the playmaker pledged allegiance to Nigeria whereas nonetheless a teen and has now appeared in 80 matches for the Super Eagles.

  1. Nwankwo Kanu

Words that shall ceaselessly be related to towering striker Kanu, nonetheless considered one of many most interesting gamers to emerge from his continent and one which repeatedly wowed Gooners along with his array of targets from all angles.

Formerly the report holder for essentially the most substitute appearances for Arsenal, Kanu earned his stars as Ajax and Inter Milan earlier than linking up with Wenger in 1999, which marked the beginning of a five-year affiliation with the Gunners.

The Nigerian contributed 44 targets and 32 assists in 197 video games for the North London titans and was a member of their 2003-04 Invincibles squad, earlier than occurring to symbolize West Bromwich Albion and Portsmouth, profitable one other FA Cup with the latter in 2008.

  1. Emmanuel Adebayor

Adebayor was finest remembered at worldwide degree for his feats with Togo, however the former striker’s mother and father are each of Nigerian origin.

The former Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur striker finally elected to symbolize the nation of his start, however he affirmed in a 2023 interview with TVC – by way of the Daily Post – that he’s a “pure Yoruba”.

Regarded as among the finest strikers within the Premier League for a short time, Adebayor memorably sprinted to have fun in entrance of livid Gooners after scoring for Man City shortly after his departure, earlier than burning any remaining Emirates bridges by crossing the Arsenal-Tottenham divide.

  1. Bukayo Saka

The scintillating starboy himself, the mother and father of Bukayo Saka – or to offer him his full identify, Bukayo Ayoyinka Temidayo Saka – each migrated to London from Nigeria, and their love for Arsenal was mentioned to have been a key issue of their relocation.

Nurtured by Freddie Ljungberg, launched to first-team soccer by Emery and growing into one of many world’s most feared wingers beneath Mikel Arteta, Saka definitely has a case to label himself Arsenal’s most influential participant, notching 20 targets and 13 assists in 2023-24.

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