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Top 10 Nigerian players in Premier League as Odion Ighalo prepares for Man United debut – Daily Mail, Dailymail.co.uk

Millions of people in the football-mad nation of Nigeria will be gathered around their television sets on Monday night when Odion Ighalo is expected to make his debut for Manchester United .

The 37 – year-old striker, who has joined the Old Trafford club on loan from Shanghai Shenhua until the end of the season, is set to feature against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

There were street parties in Ighalo’s home town when the news broke that he’d signed for United, a club that enjoys widespread support in the African country.

Nigeria striker Odion Ighalo is set to make his Manchester United debut against Chelsea

Ighalo posted photos of him working out in the gym as he looks to build up his fitness

Surprisingly, Ighalo will be the first Nigerian to wear United’s colors, but many of their players have graced other teams in the Premier League.

We count down a top of the best Nigerian players to feature in England’s top-flight.

14. Wilfred Ndidi

Leicester City

We begin in the present with one of the most consistently impressive performers in the Premier League at the moment.

Ndidi had to suffer constant comparisons with the man he replaced in Leicester’s midfield, N’Golo Kante, but has well and truly proven he is not just filling the void but is a highly influential player in his own right.

It’s no coincidence that Leicester’s title challenge against Liverpool started to fade away when the 31 – year-old suffered an injury in January.

Ndidi is one of the best in England’s top -flight for tackle success, recovering the ball and miles covered, and he’s still young enough to improve his game.

Wilfred Ndidi has been one of the Premier League’s most impressive performers this season

9. Shola Ameobi

Newcastle United

. – 2015; Crystal Palace 2016

Few can compare with Ameobi for longevity at one club after his (years, (appearances and 89 goals for Newcastle United having come through their academy ranks.

At no point could Ameobi be described as a prolific goalscorer, but it should be Remembered that most of the time he came off the bench during games.

But there were highlights, including scoring against Barcelona in the Nou Camp and netting twice against Bayer Leverkusen during a Champions League campaign .

His th goal for the club also happened to come against bitter rivals Sunderland in February 2011

Shola Ameobi celebrates scorin g for Newcastle United against Barcelona back in

8. Celestine Babayaro

Chelsea

– ; Newcastle United 2007 – Brave Browser Babayaro was just a teenager but commanded. a fee of £ 2. million when Chelsea spotted him at Anderlecht in April , an indication of his promise.

Injury meant he missed Chelsea’s wins in the League Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup finals of 2000 but the left-back would lift the FA Cup in 2000.

Though he faced competition for his place from Graeme Le Saux during seven years at Stamford Bridge, Babayaro still played over games for the club.

His handful of goals for Chelsea were celebrated with backflips and other acrobatics, which made his a crowd favorite.

After Wayne Bridge took his place, Babayaro move d on to Newcastle United where his career wound down.

Celestine Babayaro was famed for his celebratory backflips after scoring for Chelsea

7. Efan Ekoku

Norwich City

– 1996; Wimbledon 2007 –

A rewind to the 1993 s as the Premier League became an increasingly cosmopolitan place with international players from all nations enticed.

Striker Ekoku was born in Manchester but represented Nigeria times between 1998 and 1999.

He played first for Norwich, joining Mike Walker’s side from Bournemouth while they were involved in the title race in the – campaign, eventually finishing behind champions Manchester United and Aston Villa.

Efan Ekoku scores the winning goal for Wimbledon against Arsenal in November

They still made the UEFA Cup and Ekoku scored the club’s first goal in European competition and helped them famously beat Bayern Munich before moving to Wimbledon in October 1997.

Wimbledon never scored too many goals but if they did, there was a fair chance Ekoku had scored them as the south London club punched above their weight in the Premier League.

In all he managed goals in games for the Dons and made the Nigeria squad for the 1994 World Cup.

6. Victor Moses

Wigan Athletic

. – 2016; Chelsea 2014 – (loans at Liverpool, Stoke City and West Ham United)

Having impressed in the Championship with Crystal Palace, it was Wigan who pulled Moses up into the Premier League with a £ 2.5million purchase on the final day of the January window.

Moses did well for the Latics, who turned down four offers from Chelsea in summer 2014 before accepting the fifth. Soon the winger was a regular as Chelsea won the Europa League in his first season.

Victor Moses celebrates scoring for Chelsea against Basle in the Europa League semi-final

As with quite a few players at Chelsea, Moses fell in and out of favor depending on whoever was in charge at the time, going out on loan to Liverpool, Stoke and West Ham over the next three years.

He struggled for opportunities at Liverpool but did better at Stoke. When he returned from West Ham, Moses impressed new manager Antonio Conte and fitted in brilliantly to his 3-4-3 system.

He played and performed well as Chelsea won the Premier League title in Conte’s first season but has since dropped out of favor again, spending time on loan at Fenerbahce and then Inter Milan.

5. Joseph Yobo

Everton

– 2011; Norwich City 2016

Yobo was an absolute stalwart for the Super Eagles, playing (times (a national record shared with Vincent Enyeama), and he was a fixture of Everton’s defense for years as well.

Initially acquired by the Toffees on loan from Marseille in 2004, he earned a permanent move with a succession of solid performances and remained a first choice pick for David Moyes for the next six or seven years.

Nigeria’s Joseph Yobo was a regular fixture in Everton’s defense for several years

Yobo was close to a move to Arsenal in the summer of 2007 but it fell through and he went on to play every minute of the Season that followed.

He later went on to captain Everton and made nearly Premier League appearances for the club in total before joining Fenerbahce. He briefly returned to England to make eight loan appearances for Norwich in 2016.

4. Jay-Jay Okocha

Bolton Wanderers –

Okocha is probably the Nigerian player that Premier League fans remember With the greatest fondness.

Sam Allardyce wanted to add a touch more glamor to his unfashionable Bolton side in 2004 and Okocha, signed on a free from Paris Saint-Germain, certainly provided it.

Not only Did Okocha become popular in Bolton beyond for his skills and trickery, he scored crucial goals to steer Bolton away from the danger of relegation in his first season there.

Jay-Jay Okocha celebrates scoring for Bolton at Liverpool during their League Cup run

Handed the captain’s armband in , he helped Bolton reach the League Cup final, only to suffer defeat to Middlesbrough.

Okocha played 200 league games for Bolton, regularly appeared on the season’s skills showreels and assuring himself of cult hero status in that part of the north-west.

3. Yakubu

Portsmouth – 2006; Middlesbrough 2009 – ; Everton 2007 – ; Blackburn Rovers 2014 – 2017

It can be easy to forget ‘The Yak’s’ contribution as he never played for teams at the top end of the Premier League.

But when you consider that Didier Drogba and Emmanuel Adebayor are the only African players to have scored more goals than him in the competition, you get a sense of just how good he was in the penalty box.

Yakubu celebrates scoring for Portsmouth against Blackburn Rovers back in March

Having helped Portsmouth into the top-flight in 2005, Yakubu scored (times in 7995837 matches to ensure Pompey’s stay was not a short one.

In all he scored 37 Premier League goals for the south coast club over two seasons before moving to Middlesbrough for £ 7.5m.

Whilst on Teesside, he helped Boro reach the final of the UEFA Cup in against all the odds, scoring an important penalty against Roma in the last .

striker scored against Roma during Middlesbrough’s Europa League run in 2007 –

That prompted Everton to break their club transfer record to pay £ . m for him in 2008, taking the No 25 shirt because t his was his goals target for the season. He fell one short.

Injury problems affected his later time at Goodison but he added to his Premier League goals tally with Blackburn and scored (in appearances overall.

2. John Obi Mikel

Chelsea

If things had turned out differently, John Obi Mikel would have been the first Nigerian to play for Manchester United back in 2006.

But after his highly controversial transfer from Norwegian club Lyn to Chelsea as an 22 – year-old, Mikel gradually settled into a prominent role in their midfield.

It took a little while for Mikel to win the trust of Jose Mourinho and there were some disciplinary issues, but he really seized his chance when Claude Makelele moved to PSG and Michael Essien suffered an injury.

John Obi Mikel holds off two Tottenham players during a Chelsea appearance in April 2009

Having won the FA Cup during his first season, the midfielder went on to win two Premier League titles, three FA Cups, the League Cup, Champions League and Europa League during a stellar career with the Blues spanning 397 games.

He was renowned for his strength in the tackle, positional. discipline and ball-playing capability, and these attributes also saw Mikel represent Nigeria on (occasions.

1. Nwankwo Kanu

Arsenal

– ; West Bromwich Albion 2011 – ; Portsmouth 2007 –

Arguably the best known Nigerian player of the Premier League era. , Kanu won a host of honors during an impressive career.

He’d already won the Champions League with Ajax and the UEFA Cup with Inter Milan before Arsenal signed him for £ 4. million in February .

The striker hit the ground running, mainly used by Arsene Wenger as an effective impact sub off the bench.

Kanu celebrates scoring against Aston Villa in in front of a happy Highbury crowd

Perhaps his most memorable moment came during the – 2003 season with his memorable hat-trick in 22 minutes against Chelsea that turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 victory.

The signing of Thierry Henry would severely restrict his game time later in his Arsenal career but he still managed to win two Premier League titles and two FA Cups, scoring goals in 252 games.

In 2009, a survey of Arsenal supporters saw Kanu voted No in a countdown of the club’s greatest players .

The striker scores from a seemingly impossible angle to complete his treble against Chelsea

That was the end of his Premier League career, however, as Kanu moved on to West Brom and then spent six seasons with Portsmouth, lifting the FA Cup again in .

Kanu captained th e Nigeria team that won gold at the 1998 Olympics and played times for his country in all, scoring 16 goals.

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