It is almost as if football is close to a return as transfer rumours once again are beginning to emerge with greater regularity.
The football season has taken a pause as a result of the pandemic but with the summer fast approaching and some leagues abandoned, clubs are beginning to do their homework to make the most out of this pandemic in the coming transfer window.
Interestingly, there has been more focus on players from the African continent as players like Sadio Mane, Pierre Emerick Aubameyang, Thomas Partey and the likes continue to make their mark globally on football. And with the January capture of Nigerian striker Odion Ighalo by Manchester United, it seems to be that more grease has been added to African rumor mill.
So where are we?
In this three part edition, we would be taking a look at your household clubs, their needs to be addressed in the transfer window, and satisfying these needs with an African player.
Like I mentioned, no surprises that our African stars are in high demand and you would be owing us part of your bet winnings, if these transfers- don’t say we didn’t tell you- materialize!
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There is no club at the moment that cries louder for a Central Midfielder than North London’s Arsenal. For a long time, the Gunners have their seasonal difficulties laid at the desks of the Forward and Defensive departments. But with both departments having a bit of stability, the spotlight has been turned to the midfield and for good cause.
The Gunners have had a bit of a case in that department all season and uncertainty remains concerning the future of some of the midfielders. New boss Mikel Arteta does not seem to be a fan of Matteo Guendouzi, rumors of a return to Italy for Lucas Torreira gains more ground, and Dani Ceballos looks set to return to the Bernabeu- preferring a return than an extension to his stay at the Emirates.
It leaves Arteta to be a major player in the coming transfer window, so who can the Spaniard turn to? Thomas Partey
The Atletico Madrid midfielder is currently wanted by a whole lot of clubs with current market value estimated to be around £43 million for the 26 year old Ghanaian.
So what does he bring to the club?
The Ghanaian midfielder is capable of contributing at both ends of the pitch for Arsenal and is a traditional box-to-box midfielder- a midfield role that seems to be in decline.
Per Squawka, Thomas Partey in this season’s Champions League has averaged 3.6 tackles per game and with no Arsenal midfielder putting up such numbers despite playing fewer games, the Ghanaian’s addition to the Gunner would help provide adequate protection for the club’s defensive line.
Such impressive numbers would make one believe he is a one trick pony, but the midfielder currently averages more than 60 passes per game in the UCL, a number once again that bests the Gunners’ trio.
Little wonder why the player is high on the Arteta’s shopping list as the player’s ability to get the ball flowing and going would fit seamlessly into his prospective boss’ style of play. At £43m he would be a bargain signing for the club and become the club’s 22nd African player and 3rd Ghanaian to turn out in Arsenal colours.
With the Reds on course to win their first league title in over 30 years, the pressure for Jurgen Klopp to ensure that Liverpool can continue to fire on all cylinders would be immense. Key to ensuring that the Merseyside club can stay challenging would be the addition of a forward in the coming window.
Without a traditional striker upfront, Klopp has been able to play Salah in a pseudo-nine role to tremendous effect with Firmino just dropping behind pulling the strings. But is the current system sustainable with the ever increasing demand on Mane and Salah?
The present and future worries that would continue to be on Klopp’s mind would be how his current team’s dynamic does not shift in any absence of the duo.
Here comes Nigerian forward, Victor Osimhen.
The 21 year old forward has 13 goals in Ligue 1 averaging about 0.5 goals per 90 minutes. The striker has been responsible for about 40% of the goals scored by Lille in the league. The French club put their faith in the hands of a youngster and have quite rightly been rewarded.
The Nigerian international has a lot of pace in his bag, an eye for goal, and aerially dominant. He could be to Klopp – I’d like to stick out my head and say this- what Lewandowski was to the German.
Ranking second for aerial duels in Ligue 1 this season, Osimhen has the opportunity to offer something different in Liverpool’s attack. Interestingly, the young striker has had games out wide for Lille and that has given him an extra dimension to his game. He might not be the perfect replacement for either Salah or Mane, but it gives Klopp something to play around in the absence of one.
Another great pointer for Liverpool would be, of all the forwards who have applied the most pressure to the opposing players in the attacking third, (Across the top five leagues and 800+ minutes played) Osimhen currently ranks seventh with Salah and Firmino among the other six.
This is an impressive feat considering the French club are more of a counter-attacking team and not necessarily known for applying pressure to win the ball back quickly. The potential for the player in Klopp’s hands are scary considering how easily the player would fit in.
A bit of worry for the Reds would be his inability to score on the road as 10 of his 13 goals came in front of home support and a possible departure of all three players in the 2021 AFCON in January, a key issue that Liverpool would definitely have at the back of the minds in trying to sign the player.
The Merseyside club have had some strange seasons in the past with poor managerial decisions affecting them greatly. The Toffees would sign on legendary Carlo Ancelotti to help stir the club back to its position as a continental club and the Italian, although yet to achieve it, has pushed the club closer to that ambition.
With a tight purse and a team to rebuild, the Italian boss would be looking to see how he add to his attacking options as the team sometimes finds it difficult to go behind teams that stay compact.
But this window, Everton should turn their attention back again to Crystal Palace’s Wilfred Zaha.
Since joining the team, The Italian has made the Toffees effective on the counter-attacks with the transition from 4-4-2 to 3-4-3 in a matter of seconds but the sting in their attacks would be taken away by a lack of a dominant dribbler of the ball.
The Toffees have ranked up few dribbles this season with Zaha accounting for more than half of what the club has done all season. The Ivorien has been a live-wire for Crystal Palace this season, leading the team with 81 shot creation attempts, a feat no one in the attacking departments of Palace and Everton can match.
Wilfred might not have done so much in the goals department this season, but his ability to get the ball in the opponent’s half in quick turns is something I believe Ancelotti should be considering coupled with that fact that the Ivorian can play on either side of the flank, and becoming a creative option across the frontline.
Additionally, with the Toffees the only team yet to win a spot-kick this season, the presence of Zaha and his trickery would definitely be changing that. How the Ivorian would be accomplishing that, certainly would be the least of the Goodison Park’s faithful.
It is not every time the demand for a goalkeeper would be a pressing need in a transfer window. But for Chelsea, the transfer window cannot come any quicker.
The London club are currently in the market for a goalkeeper and this comes as little surprise as the Blues’ boss Frank Lampard is not the best of fans of current goalie Kepa Arrizabalaga.
The record signing has not been the keeper the Stamford Bridge faithful have hoped for after forking out about £71.6m for the player and making him the most expensive goalie of all time. The Spanish stopper has conceded 44 goals in 33 appearances this season, of which nine goals would come in the club’s UCL group stage outings.
Kepa would be only keeper of the top six goalies in the league to be outside the top 20 keepers with the most saves in the leagues. One could argue that the players in front of him are doing a great job but with 32 goals conceded in 25 games in the league, there is a fundamental need for a change.
Look no further than Cameroonian stopper, Andre Onana… what’s my name?
Onana’s interest to move to a bigger league this coming transfer window can come at no better time for Chelsea. The Ajax goalie has indicated interest in moving clubs and with the Blues already bagging Hakim Ziyech from the Amsterdam Arena, a revisit to the club would be on the cards again.
Onana has caught the eyes of so many suitors with his dominant performances for the Eredivisie club. In the Champions League this season, the young stopper beats the averages of goalkeepers to have played 500 minutes of more. Six goals conceded against the average of 9.75, 26 saves against 0.42, and an impressive 80% save percentage against a 67.36 in the competition.
The Cameroonian concedes a goal every 120 minutes and an average of 0.75 goals for every 90 minutes on the turf and has a clean sheet ratio of 33%. On the other hand, his soon to be rival Kepa concedes a goal every 73 minutes, and average of 1.24 goals for every 90 minutes he is on the pitch with a clean sheet ratio of 24%.
The 24 year old shot stopper is on the up but would have to brush up on his weaknesses such as his poor long ball distribution and his continuous parrying of the ball giving players the opportunity of a rebound.
On arrival he would be the 15th African to be at the club and would have to put on a show to eclipse Geremi as Stamford Bridge’s favorite Cameroonian.
Okay folks, of course these would not be all, see you soon for the second part of this African Transfer Window edition, stay glued