A look at the number of Nigerian players at Arsenal shows the country still has more representatives at the club despite the departure of Alex Iwobi and legendary Kanu Nwankwo.
Arsenal particularly enjoys having more fans from Nigeria compared to other African countries. The love and passion of some of the fans in the most populous black country in the world are too enormous.
This could be attributed to the success that was achieved by legendary Kanu Nwankwo who joined the Premier League club from Serie A side Inter Milan.
With a growing number of players from the West African country, more fans are expected to emerge since fans in the country usually follow clubs having their compatriots.
Highlighting some of the players at the club that could still represent the West African country
Here is the list of Nigeria players at Arsenal that is still eligible to represent the country in future
1. Arthur Okonkwo
Currently the first choice goalkeeper of the club’s U23 development squad.
Born September 9 2001, Arthur Okonkwo is a 19-year old goalkeeper currently in the books of Arsenal. The tall player has well represented the clubs at various age-grade Competitions including the U18 and U23 youth setup.
Since having a breakthrough season, Arthur has been projected to further break into the senior side currently coach by Mikel Arteta.
At least, his performance at the various levels has proved him to be worthy of getting a chance to feature for the senior team.
Hopefully one day, he would wear the gloves in between sticks at the Emirates stadium.
Born in London, there are still chances he would feature for Nigeria depending on his choice at the International level.
According to owngoalnigeria, coach of the senior national team Gernot Rohr has set his sights on the U23 goalkeeper for the Super Eagles and he could get the chance to enter the first team later this year.
The current number one goalie of the Super Eagles Maduka Okoye could have strong competition from Arthur Okonkwo.
At least there would be no need to switch his allegiance to Nigeria since he has not represented England at any major international competition.
There’s been huge competition between the super eagles and the three lions of England as to who gets the player first and this has continued to be there in the past years.
2. Ovie Ejeheri
This is another promising goalkeeper coming through the youth ranks at the gunners.
The 17-year old born in England plays for the U18 set up as the team’s first-choice goalkeeper even though there’s still competition in the team.
For Ovie Ejeheri, there’s an interesting twist to his International career since he is eligible to represent three different countries including Uganda, England and Nigeria.
However, Allnigeriasoccer reveals the young promising goalkeeper had decided to through the future to the super eagles instead of England and Uganda who could also join the race for his services in the long run.
He is currently one of the most important first-team players in the U18 youth setup.
His decision to play for an African country could be seen as a major step it took even though it appeared easy for him to chose.
His abilities are enormous. The young goalkeeper has been tipped to become the next Italian great Buffon as he continues with his development in the youth team.
Still talking about his International future, the FA in England who were keen not to lose any player at this stage had handed a callup to him ahead of games in December 2020.
But this may no longer come to fruition with his recent desire to switch allegiance to the African country ahead of England and Uganda in East Africa.
3. Tolaji Adeyinka Osegie
Tokaji Adeyinka is a core member of Arsenal’s under 23 development squad currently playing its matches in the Premier League 2.
The English born 22-year old is another promising defender coming through the ranks of the club’s academy and has kept his consistency level higher in a bid to break into the senior team.
He is a powerful left-back with a lot of creativity added to his name. A reason why he has continued to excel in the Premier League 2 with the U23 in 2021.
During 2017/2018, he was magnificent, provided four matches winning assist despite making only 16 appearances all season long.
For now, his International career is with his country of birth, England. Although there has been no concrete move by the Nigerian Football Federation towards luring the young talented defender to consider playing for their national team.
However, a lot could still change he continues to develop his football towards the Professional level.
So far, he had represented the U18 youth setup of England. In February, he was recalled back from his loan spell outside the Premier League 2, back to the youth development squad.
4. Mazeed Ogungbo
Born in 2002, Mazeed Ogungbo is another promising defender coming through the youth ranks at Arsenal.
In 2017, he made his debut for the club’s U18 youth setup in a rampage against Tottenham Hotspur which the Gunners youth side lost by 9-0 to the Spurs youth team.
Since making that debut, he has continued to enjoy a considerable number of minutes with the team. He currently forms a core part of the U18 team as a defender.
In terms of his international career, he holds the passport of the Republic of Ireland. Meaning Nigeria would have to battle with the Irish Republic to get his services.
He is a talented defender capable of causing a stronghold. He is one of those top talents that would soon emerge out from the youth team straight into the senior team.
He currently enjoys regular playtime with the U18 and the U23 even as he awaits his official promotion to the Professional side.
5. Tobi Omole
Born on 17 December 1999, Tobi Omole was a full squad member of the Arsenal youth setup. But recently it was reported that he had switched sides to join Tottenham Hotspur.
The promising defender has been tagged as a player ready for the battleground at times.
He can also play as a defensive midfielder while taking charge of his defensive duties at the back.
He can play as a left-back, a central defender and a defensive midfielder at the same time.
Born in London, he is eligible to represent both Nigeria and England although he has not played in any major competition for any country.
Hopefully, the West African country could win the race.
6. Daniel Oyegoke
Born in January 2003, Daniel Oyegoke one of the most important players in the youth ranks at this point.
His defensive duties have been impressive so far.
He is one of the few players with dual nationalities in the U18 development squad of Arsenal.
7. Joseph Olugbenga Olowu
Joseph Olugbenga is a young Nigerian-born English defender who is currently on loan Cork City F.C.
Born in Ibadan Nigeria, he is known for his ability to calm the ball with strong pressure in the defence.
He is known for his physical strength and stamina. Also the ability to hold off attackers in front of the opposing team.
He is eligible to represent Nigeria compared to England as he directs links that came from the West African country.
He featured for the U18 side during 2016/17 before his graduation to the U23 setup.
8. Miguel Azeez
Another powering midfielder that has kept his radar high for the team despite featuring for the U23 side. Currently, he has been pictured as the next big thing to make headlines in the senior team.
9. James Olayinka
As a midfielder, he currently plays for Southend United, on loan from Arsenal.
He is a versatile midfielder and has gone on to feature for various youth setups before his eventual move to Southend United.
He is one of the next top midfielders expected to add life to the Gunners first team within a few years.
He is also eligible to represent the Super Eagles.
10. Ryan Alebiosu
Ryan can play as a right-back and at the same time in the midfield. Since joining Arsenal Academy, he has continued to impress the coaches handling the youth teams.
His notable performance for the U23 was in January against the Liverpool development squad in the Premier League 2.
He is one of those players pushing hard to claim a spot in the senior team soonest.
There’s also a chance he could represent Nigeria ahead of England.
11. Folarin Balogun
One of the household names in the U23s. He is currently playing at the Professional level even though he is yet to attain the status of a proper first-team player at the club.
He is currently targeted by Arsenal fans for the senior team as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang successor in the nearest future.
This season, he has impressed the fans of the club.
The English Professional Footballer is also open for the West African country even though his International future has not been made a public debate yet.
12. Nathan Butler-Oyedeji
The left-winger has already been considered the next star to emerge from the youth ranks.
The question of why are there so many Nigerians at Arsenal is an interesting one looking back at the love for Arsenal by Nigerians and Africans at large.
The country has produced notable players in history including Kanu Nwankwo and just recently Alex Iwobi who played a major part at the London based club.
For Iwobi, one would think he left Arsenal to avoid high competition as a result of the signing of Nicolas Pepe from Lille for a club record fee at that time.
For Kanu Nwankwo, he was almost like a Nigerian legend who played his part for the club as one who was present to score crucial goals for the club when it is needed the most.
Alexander Iwobi and Kanu Nwankwo played for the Gunners during the era of the legendary coach Arsene Wenger who was so interested in Kanu Nwankwo to the extent he was present during his testimonial match in Lagos Nigeria.
But why are there so many Nigerians at Arsenal?
It is because of the nature of the club and love by Nigerians after the “Invisible” record was achieved by the club, which made people from Nigeria love and also has the interest in playing for the club.
Which Nigerian player played for Arsenal?
Kanu Nwankwo is the most notable Nigerian players who played for Arsenal. He was loved and featured by then Coach Arsene Wenger, who believed in what he can offer on the field of play.
Some notable Nigerian players who played for Arsenal past
1. Kanu Nwankwo
He was signed by Arsenal for a fee valued in the region of 4.15 million euros from Italian Serie A side Inter Milan in 1999 and made his debut game in an FA Cup clash with Sheffield United.
With a revived career with the Gunners, he was named the African Footballer of the Year for the 1999–2000 season.
He marked his career with a fifteen minutes hat trick in a big city derby against Chelsea which turned out to be the contributory goals that led to Arsenal’s win over Chelsea on the day.
Kanu Nwankwo is a proud member of Arsenal’s Invisible of the 2003–04 Premier League season which is one of the reasons Nigerians love Arsenal till today.
He was also voted as the club’s 50 greatest players in 2008.
2. Alexander Iwobi
Alexander Iwobi joined the Gunners as a primary schoolboy. He was moved to the club’s youth setup which he was able to surge through to the senior team seven years later.
Although this may not be compared with the record Nwankwo achieved while at Arsenal.
Nigerians followed the club since Iwobi was a full member of the squad.
Some players at the club of Nigerian descent
Arthur Okonkwo, Ovie Ejeheri, Tolaji Bola, Mazeed Ogungbo, Tobi Omole, Daniel Oyegoke and Joseph Olowu.
Miguel Azeez, James Olayinka, Ryan Alebiosu, Bukayo Saka, Folarin Balogun, Nathan Butler-Oyedeji, Bukayo Saka (via Allnigeriasoccer)
For Bukayo Saka, his decision has been set to England. The youngster who is currently regarded as one of the best teenagers in the Premier League decided to represent England ahead of Nigeria.
He quickly rose from the club’s youth setup straight into the senior team and is currently commanding the first team shirt at the club.
He is an outstanding forward who kept the gunners going at the club. His performance has also helped the club in the UEFA Europa League of 2021, pushing them up to the Quarterfinals of the competition.
In all, there many Nigerians at arsenal because of the achievement made by the club and the involvement of Kanu Nwankwo in the club which was a remarkable achievement that took the countries name higher on the global football list.
The London based club has had tremendous Achievements in the past, winning the English Premier League with an invisible. Also, they’ve won English FA Cup more than any other Club in recent years.
It appears that Gunners have more fans outside their own country most especially African countries like Nigeria, Ghana and the Republic of South Africa.
There are several players at Arsenal that are still eligible to represent the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
Hopefully, Nigeria could win the race to convince these players for the senior national team.