The Premier League is a hotbed for international talent, with almost all nationalities having been represented throughout the history of the league. There have been a host of Nigerian players playing in the English top-flight during their careers, and that is a trend that continues to this day.
A number of players have won league titles in England, with John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses among those. But, which current Nigerian stars ply their trade in the Premier League, and could be an integral part of their respective teams in the 2021-22 season?
Kelechi Iheanacho has played the entirety of his career in the Premier League after joining Manchester City’s youth academy in 2014. He always had a big reputation throughout his youth career and was named the Most Promising Talent of the Year by CAF in 2013. Iheanacho made an immediate impression on his debut for City, as he scored in a 4-1 pre-season win against Sporting Kansas City, despite not being an official player on the books at the club at that point. His move to City was finalised in early 2015 and became a prominent member of the squad in the 2015-16 season.
His first goal for City in the Premier League came in just a month after his debut as he scored the winner against Crystal Palace. Iheanacho would stay with City for the 2016-17 season, scoring four goals in 20 league appearances, before moving to Leicester City for a fee of £25 million. After three underwhelming seasons for the Foxes, he became an integral player in the team last season. He scored 12 league goals in 25 games and helped the team win the FA Cup.
There are few better defensive midfielders in the Premier League than Wilfred Ndidi. Such is his quality, the 24-year-old is commonly linked with a move away from the King Power Stadium. However, no move has materialised and he has continued to impress Leicester City. Ndidi made his professional debut in Belgium, as he played for Genk between 2015 and 2017. During that period, he played 61 times and scored four goals. However, a move to the Premier League beckoned in the January transfer window in 2017, as he moved to Leicester for a fee of £20 million. His love for defending was typical of an American Football cornerback. Some of the best cornerbacks in NFL history were assessed by TwinSpires.
He made his debut just two days after the transfer was confirmed, as Leicester beat Everton in the FA Cup. He immediately became a much-loved player by fans, as he was renowned for winning the ball back. Ndidi continues to be an important player for the Foxes and started in their FA Cup final success against Chelsea towards the end of the 2020-21 season. To date, he has played 146 times and scored seven times in the Premier League.
Alex Iwobi has been a prominent figure in the Premier League throughout his career, as he has made over 150 appearances in the English top-flight. Iwobi’s talent was picked up by Arsenal, as he played for the youth team between 2004 and 2015. He made his professional debut for the Gunners in the 2015-16 season in a League Cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday.
Before the end of the year, he would go on to make his Premier League and Champions League debut. Iwobi found first-team opportunities hard to come by following the departure of Arsene Wenger and would leave the Emirates in the summer of 2019. The Nigerian international signed for Everton in a £34 million deal. He has played 55 times for the Toffees in the league over the past two seasons but has managed just two goals.