After a disappointing year 2022, when the Eagles achieved a place of eighth in the AFCON, before failing to qualify for the World Cup, PETER AKINBO analyzes 10 players who can improve the luck of the squad in 2023

Chuba Akpom (Middlesbrough)

With Napoli’s Victor Osimhen, Genk’s Paul Onuachu and Lorient’s Terem Moffi, the Super Eagles have a good supply of quality forwards.

Royal Society’s Sadiq Umar and Cremonese’s Cyriel Dessers are also valuable back-up options, but Middlesbrough’s Akpom could give back-up options and even the starters a run for their money following their recent run of form.

The 27-year-old is the Championship’s top scorer with 13 goals and his ability to function as an attacking midfielder and second striker could also attract José Peseiro in the New Year.

Born in London to Nigerian parents, Akpom represented England at youth levels, but in 2019 he pledged his international allegiance to Nigeria.

Samuel Edozie (Southampton)

One of England’s highest rated teenagers, Edozie left Manchester City for Southampton in September. The 19-year-old playmaker has already made 10 Premier League appearances for the Saints.

Edozie is skilled as a left winger and could serve as a perfect cover for Nantes’ Moses Simon and Atalanta’s Ademola Lookman on that flank for the Eagles.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has described the youngster, who was part of City’s elite development team that won the inaugural 2020-21 Premier League 2 crown, as “an incredible young player with good pace” in 2021. .

Born in England to Nigerian parents, Edozien hasn’t made up his mind about his international future. He will bring the necessary vitality and creativity to the team if he decides to represent Nigeria this year.

Folarin Balogun (Reims)

Tied on 10 goals with Eagles striker Terem Moffi in Ligue 1, Balogun is in the form of his life and just behind Kylian Mbappe and Neymar on the Ligue 1 top scorer lists this season.

It’s safe to say that the 21-year-old is having a spectacular time in France, on loan at Reims from Arsenal, which has even sparked rumors of an early termination of the loan deal to help the Gunners in their title quest.

Balogun is eligible to play in the United States, England and Nigeria. But despite representing England at youth level, the youngster remains connected to his Nigerian roots.

“Nigeria is very close to my heart, I haven’t heard anything from Nigeria, but I am open to anything because Nigeria is very close to my heart,” he said in an interview with the BBC last year.

Balogun is sure to bring more competition to a star-studded attacking lineup known to often underperform in recent years.

Caleb Okoli (Atalanta)

While on loan from Atalanta, Okoli proved his credentials in the 2021/22 season when he helped Cremonese earn promotion to the Italian Serie A.

The 21-year-old centre-back has returned to Atalanta, where he has become a constant fixture for the team in the Italian top flight as he sits in seventh place, just five points out of the Top 4.

Italy could tempt the Vicenza-born defender to play for the four-time world champions in the coming years.

But an early 2023 move by the Nigerian Football Federation could see the youngster committing his international future to the three-time African champions.

Jordan Torunarigha (Ghent)

Torunarigha is the son of former Nigerian footballer Ojokojo Torunarigha, and while the Berlin-bred defender has already expressed his desire to play for the German national team, perhaps he could still be tempted.

It won’t be an easy feat, as the accomplished centre-back even turned down the chance to play for Nigeria a few years back.

But Germany passed over Torunarigha for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, despite his brilliance for Gent.

Now 25, he is reportedly open to playing for the Eagles and head coach José Peseiro could invite him in 2023.

Tosin Adarabioyo (Fulham)

With Kenneth Omeruo, William Troost-Ekong and Leon Balogun all around the age of 30 or older, the Eagles’ defense is in need of a major revamp, considering they have conceded eight goals in their last three games.

Peseiro seems to agree with that and already invited Boavista star Bruno Onyemaechi to the national team in November.

Fulham centre-back Adarabioyo is another who could come in to replace the old guards.

Adarabioyo has Premier League and Championship experience, and recent moves by NFF manager Austin Eguavoen suggest it could only be a matter of time before we see the 26-year-old in the green and white colors of Nigeria. .

Carney Chukwuemeka (Chelsea)

One thing the Eagles are missing is a top-tier attacking midfielder to take over from Alex Iwobi.

They don’t come any better than Chukwuemeka, the Austrian-born teenager who inspired England to win the UEFA European Under-19 Championship in 2022.

Chukwuemeka moved from Aston Villa to Chelsea last summer and has already made four Premier League appearances for the Blues and was impressive on Thursday against champions Manchester City, hitting the crossbar in the first half.

Convincing him to play for the Eagles could be the biggest international allegiance switch the NFF has made since Victor Moses turned down the Three Lions for Nigeria.

Eberechi Eze (Crystal Palace)

Eze made his debut for the England under-20 team in 2018 and also captained the team at the 2019 Toulon Tournament, making seven appearances for the team.

In 2019, then NFF President Amaju Pinnick met with Eze to try to persuade him to switch allegiance to Nigeria. Just like at the time, Eze, who was with Championship side QPR, said he wasn’t sure which country to represent.

In May 2021, Eze was called up to the England senior squad for the first time, as part of Gareth Southgate’s 33-man provisional squad for Euro 2020, but the same day he was injured during a training session. Since then, Southgate has ignored him, which could be good news for the Eagles.

Michael Olise (Crystal Palace)

Olise, 20, was born in England to a Nigerian father and a Franco-Algerian mother and is eligible to represent France, Algeria, England or Nigeria at international level.

In March 2021, Olise was named as a substitute for the Nigerian squad in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Benin and Lesotho.

Olise’s performances in December earned her the Cinch Player of the Month award.

After taking part in Palace’s mid-season trip to Turkey, and participating in friendlies against the likes of Napoli, Botafogo and Real Valladolid, Olise began working on the return of the Premier League.

His performance against Bournemouth was crucial as the Eagles cruised to comfortable winners on the South Coast, the highlight being a wonderful assist from Ebere Eze from a well-worked corner.

Emmanuel Ekong (Empoli)

The son of former Eagles star Ikpe Ekong, Emmanuel has become a mainstay in Empoli’s Serie A first-team squad. The 20-year-old striker recently signed a new five-year contract that keeps him at the club until June 2027.

He is already an Under-20 cap for Sweden, but is eligible to play for Nigeria and with his ties to the national team, he is interested in following in the footsteps of his father, who has played more than 15 caps for Nigeria.