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Ahmed Musa–The next prolific Nigerian in the English Premier League

Unlike Kelechi Iheanacho, Alex Iwobi and Odion Ighalo (upcoming Nigerian stars), English Premier League (EPL) addition, Ahmed Musa is predicted to become one of the most prolific Nigerians turning heads in English football.

Musa is another addition to Leicester City’s squad, and one of its most anticipated new arrivals. The international attacking winger is renowned in Nigeria for whom he has scored 11 goals.

Rise to stardom

The 23-year-old has an impressive record since the tender age of 17. So far, the Nigerian has 58 international games for Nigeria and over 24 Champions League fixtures under his belt.

The attacker is regarded as Nigeria’s next ‘super hero’, waiting to list his name among the nation’s greatest.

Musa’s football career began back at home where a breakthrough in Nigeria’s local league marked his spot on the football scene. The Nigerian was published as the nation’s next big star in a local publication in Jos, Nigeria, on its Undiscovered Talent column.

By 2010, the winger had scored the most goals in Nigeria’s league at the time – a record surpassed by Jude Aneke in 2011 – and won the Golden Boot with Kano Pillars.

In 2011, ranked him amongst the world’s Hot 100 young football stars to watch. He was also added in the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) list of the best 140 players in the world.

On March 8, 2011, Musa was highly acclaimed, winning the Africa Independent Television (AIT) footballer of the year award (national).

Musa made history by becoming the first Nigerian to score more than once in a FIFA World Cup match, with two goals against Argentina in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

In 2013, he won the Africa Cup of Nations and was among Nigeria’s goal scorers.

Rise to the big leagues

Musa had an earlier shot at the EPL with keen interests from Arsenal and Tottenham, desiring his skill-set while at former Dutch club, VVV Venlo. CSKA Moscow were the fortunate team to secure the player’s signature.

In Moscow, his football skills developed tremendously under the guidance of coach Leonid Slutsky. Over time, his adaptation to different roles and positions earned him great trust in CSKA.

“I am eternally grateful to Slutsky,” said Musa. “He made me a real footballer.”

He became a crucial role in the success of the Moscow club, winning its third title in four years and registering a career-best 17 goals in all competitions. Overall, he scored 54 goals in 168 games for CSKA.

Highest level of footballing career



  Ahmed Musa had a strong performance against Arsenal (Reuters)

Musa’s strength lies mostly in his lightning quickness, ability to outpace defenders and play with both feet. The latter allows the winger to easily fit in on either flanks of the pitch, making him hard to mark.

Even without the ball, he is constantly on the move – either ready to receive the ball on the counter or defensively proficient.

It is no wonder Leicester sought after his services back in January but his mid-season move was blocked by CSKA president, Yevgeni Giner.

Giner recognized the player’s talents and needed him for the team to maintain the club’s top position.

However, it is a different ball game in the EPL. The level of intensity and physicality in English football has not been kind to some of the world’s top footballers, looking to make an impact in the league. This has made it one of the world’s, If not, top league/s.

In addition, it is uncommon for players out of Russia’s league to instantly bask in the spoils of English football. Musa knows that as well.

He told the Guardian, “The premier league is much faster than Russia – there is so much running here – but I think within a few games I will be able to adapt. Whenever the manager decides, I’ll be ready to play and give 100%.”

The player is an important inclusion to City’s frontline with coach Claudio Ranieri, seeking to add pace into the team’s attack.

The Nigerian’s versatility is key to Ranieri’s search for goals and he has already shown signs of an encouraging start to life at City.

“We bought Musa because he can play wide, behind the striker as well. It’s a good choice for me during the match,” said Ranieri in a post interview following a goalless draw match against Arsenal.

However, the City manager wants Musa to get better at comprehending the English game. The Nigerian winger has been excluded from the manager’s Premier League line-up in recent weeks.

Despite handing the winger his second impressive start of the season in the 4-2 defeat to Chelsea, Ranieri said, “For us, that is good, and Ahmed Musa must understand much better the Premier League, but it is okay. For me it is important to develop all the squad and not just the 14 players.”

There is a looming worry over the player’s fitness and adjustment levels of consistency, even after giving Manchester United something to worry about in the Community Shield – United won the Shield.

Ranieri has sought to rely on time as an important factor in helping the Nigerian assert a firm presence on the pitch.

“He is working very well, and he is adapting now,” Ranieri said. “When I watch him in the training sessions, he now understands it is tough. But I had to choose. I think that sooner or later, he will come back and he will play.”

It is also important to note that the Nigerian is among a handful of players in City, with a notable Champions League experience.

His role in Europe’s most prestigious tournament for CSKA, will help to influence and impact City’s game at continental level, as the player seeks to justify his approximately £16m club transfer fee.

This could be a chance for the winger to jell in with his new teammates, even under more challenging circumstances.

Musa attributes his big move to compatriot Nwankwo Kanu, who was a tremendous Arsenal player.

“Kanu is like a role model for me,” he said. “I got to know him when I started playing in the national team.”

“I spoke to him before I came to Leicester. I was in Russia and he called me, because he always advises me what to do. He told me that I would enjoy it in the Premier League and England, that it was a nice place.”

So far the Nigerian has made two starts and six substitute appearances for the defending champions.



Featured Photo: Ahmed Musa sets his sights on the EPL as he looks to become a key member of Leicester City (GETTY IMAGES)


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