Who is Samuel and What Can He Offer Nigeria?
A look at Samuel Chimerenka Chukwueze, the budding forward included in Nigeria’s squad for the 2019 AFCON Qualifiers.
With qualification for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations a point away from being achieved and facing South Africa up next, one would expect coach Gernot Rohr to assemble the very best strikers that Nigeria boasts of abroad.
The German did that, but not without giving critics topic to ramble about following his daring move to hand fresh-faced Samuel Chimerenka Chukwueze, who has just a combined 107 minutes of senior team football with La Liga’s Villareal, a call up to the squad.
Second-placed South Africa stand in the way of the West African giants, requiring only a point in their upcoming qualifier match to be assured of a place in the finals in Cameroon. The match is scheduled for November 17th in Johannesburg.
A fixture of such a magnitude is no place for yet-to-blossom players or those considered a work in progress. Rohr showed a dose of temerity to throw a kid in the mix ahead of a game that could prompt the whole of Nigeria demanding for his head if he fails to win.
Samuel is the last man on the list the German revealed for the Bafana Bafana thrilling encounter and is streets apart from his more established competitors in attack namely the Ighalos, Ahmed Musas, Alex Iwobis, Iheanachos, who are juggernauts in the dressing rooms of their respective European clubs.
This budding 19-year-old is not even a regular at the Yellow Submarines and is struggling to cut it at the Castellon Province-based Primera Division outfit but is highly thought of.
He had been poised to join Arsenal whose insatiable obsession for new talent is widely known, immediately after helping Nigeria scoop the 2015 U-17 World Cup in Chile.
That dream switch to the London club was broken well before its formative stage owing to the greed of the player’s circle, more so Diamond Academy who at the time owned exclusive rights of the wide-man.
Arsene Wenger’s 1.5m pounds offer for the left-sided attacker, to be paid by installment over a certain period, was balked at by the Nigerian Academy forcing the Gunners to pull the plug off the deal.
Porto clamored for his services but Villareal won the day, acquiring the rising forward’s signature for a fee way short of the astounding sum Arsenal were ready to part with.
Arriving at the Estadio Caramica in the summer of 2017, the youngster’s journey began with the club’s U-19s then to the reserves –the second team – where he notched in two goals in eight cameos.
Over 30 clubs lurked in the background keeping tabs on his development triggering Villareal to launch a swift move to hand the 19-year-old a five-year deal and his buy-out clause increased to 10m euros to ward off overtures from suitors.
Alarmed by the proliferation of interest, Gaffer Javier Calleja incorporated Samuel into his pre-season plans to deflect attention featuring him in Europa games versus Rapid Wien of Austria, Rangers and Spark Moscow.
His progression has not in any way stalled amid strong optimism he will get to make his La Liga debut before the end of the term.
Dubbed Nigeria’s Messi, Samuel’s fast-tracking to the Super Eagles’ camp is fuelled by Gernot’s longing to get a first-hand account of what he can offer in the event of future call-ups.
To some, an invitation to the senior team may have come earlier than they would like to believe, but this wunderkind is capable of pulling off the strings where doubted and that place might just turn out to be in Johannesburg and the opposition, South Africa.
With an audacity to beat defenses with his bamboozling tricks and ability to sweep aside a mass of markers first to the right side and then to the left in Messi’s trademark trick, before cutting to the left and swinging into let fly left-footed screamers, the future can only be said to be promising for the winger.
He isn’t expected to start in SA on grounds it’s his first call-up, the second phase, hinging at what stage the game is, could be crucial for Chimerenka Chukwueze. This can only be hastened if Nigeria is winning.