Nigerian footballers have lived up to expectations since the start of the year, even though the previous year was marred by a coronavirus pandemic which affected football in general.
The Most popular black country has seen most of its players performing at the highest in some of the big leagues across the world.
Nigeria which is known as a top destination for football has continued to experience an impressive rise of its players across the world.
Last season, players like Victor Osimhen found themselves on the French Ligue 1 team of the season, winning the Marc-Vivien Foé award for the season.
Moving over to the Premier League in England, Wilfred Ndidi continued with his outstanding performance which made him one of the most highly-rated players in the Premier League and the world.
Highlighting the best Nigerian Professional footballers so far in 2021
This year has witnessed a high number of players from the country contributing at a higher standard to their clubs across the world including Leon Balogun and Joe Aribo’s lifting the Scottish League title.
Here are the best Nigerian football players in 2021
1. Paul Onuachu (KRC Genk/ Belgium)
Paul Onuachu is currently Nigeria’s best attacker in the whole of Europe with over 25 goals scored for his club Genk in the Belgian First Division A
His consistency has also attracted some notable clubs in Europe.
Onuachu justified his callup to the Super Eagles with an all-important two goals in the final AFCON Qualifiers against the Benin Republic and Lesotho in 2021.
There’s no other way to describe Paul Onuachu than a goalscoring machine. The Genk of Belgium forward singlehandedly took the Pro League club on his shoulders towards a potential league title at the end of the season.
Onuachu has continued to make the headlines with his goalscoring form.
After matchday 32, Onuachu leads the goalscorer chart with 26 goals
Have there been any Nigerian Footballers as prolific as he is in recent years?
Not, the 26-year attacker has been so impressive since the start of the season and has continued with his consistency.
He has continued with his fine goalscoring form since the beginning of the 2020/2021 football season.
Arguably this is the best season yet since he started his Professional career about nine years ago in the Norwegian league with Midtjylland.
His heroic was also helped Nigeria seal a place in the 2021 African cup of nations to Belbin Cameroon next year.
Although he was initially snubbed by the national team handlers, he was still able to justify the calls made by the Nigerian fans, scoring the two winning goals for the country.
In 2012, Paul Onuachu joined Norwegian outfit Midtjylland as a stepping stone of his career. During his stay at the club, he helped the club to achieve greatness.
Onuachu also scored a total of 51 goals in 134 professional appearances.
His prolific nature as a striker has seen him score about 35 goals in 53 appearances which is been behind Genk’s rise in the Belgian First Division A.
In Midtjylland, Paul Onuachu became the top scorer of the league for three consecutive seasons before leaving for the Belgian First Division A in 2019.
League: 31 games, 26 goals and two assists.
Belgian Cup: 2 games, 2 two goals.
Date of birth/Age: May 28, 1994 (26)
Height: 2,01 m
His performance in recent times have also attracted lots of attention within the top leagues in Europe.
With his consistency, he could be ranked in the same level with the like of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Robert Lewandowski.
Onuachu is one of most gifted Nigerian footballers in the world lately.
2. Victor Osimhen
Victor Osimhen plays for Italian Serie A side Napoli. The promising attacker is currently one of the best goalscorers of the super eagles.
He finished joint top scorer of the just concluded African cup of nations Qualifiers alongside Patson Daka of Senegal.
Osimhen is also one of the key players at Serie A side Napoli who made him Nigeria’s most expensive signing.
Last season, Osimhen was awarded the marc Vivien foe award after helping Lille to a good finish last season.
With such a high performance, he was also featured in the Ligue 1 player of the season, the starting eleven of the season.
His performance made Italian Serie A side Napoli spend huge sums of money to secure his services from Lille, making him one of the most expensive players in the history of Nigerian football.
Although not as prolific compared to the likes of Paul Onuachu, Osimhen forms a core part of Napoli first team and has continued to contribute to the team.
Although moving to Napoli, his form dropped at some point. However, he has continued to shine whenever he is introduced into starting eleven as a starter or from the substitute bench.
His talent was recognized by Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo who took time to hang out with the young promising talent after Napoli’s Serie A clash with Juventus.
Although his first season at Napoli was not the highest standard, Osimhen still has a lot to offer at the club with the coach’s support by his side.
The former Sporting Charleroi attacker made headlines with Lille in France before deciding on his future to Italy.
Tagged the ball winner and quality goal creator, he has since contributed a lot to the first team at Napoli including winning a penalty during Napoli’s clash with Napoli in a much-headed game.
Osimhen was nominated for the 2019 CAF Youth Player of the year alongside Achraf Hakimi alongside compatriot Samuel Chukweze who plays at Villareal.
He had an unfinished business in the French Ligue 1 after the league was declared unfinished due to the coronavirus pandemic.
With the player having sights on a better finish at the season which could not be achieved, the Marc-Vivien Foé award came as the sucur got him.
At least, 2020 was one of the brightest years of his career as an emerging footballer in Europe.
With the season left unfinished, Osimhen could have gone on to challenge the French league player of the season alongside top players like Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.
Making the big transfer record was another milestone for the young player after Napoli signed him for a record fee, tagged the highest in Nigerian history.
Napoli signed the youngster for 70 million euros ahead of the 2020/2021 football season in Europe.
Osimhen is a fast-rising young attacker who is expected to dominate the european scene in the next few seasons to come.
At least, he has proven to be a a big contributor to team work and the ability to create chances that would lead to a goal.
He is currently eyed by some major clubs on the continent despite signing for Napoli only of recent.
3. Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City/England)
Considered one of the most consistent Nigerian Professional Footballer in the past few years. Ndidi was Ranked by the CES Observatory as the 13th best Footballer in the world.
Ndidi has been very impressive for Leicester City and has attracted interest from major European clubs.
His form has continued to increase year after year.
Signed from Gent, Ndidi has continued with his impressive form and is already a household name in the English Premier League.
With his current standard, he could be on his way to the top with one of the biggest Teams in the world soonest.
When it comes to having some of the highest tackles per game in any match day, Ndidi makes the headlines. His performance has been part of Leicester City’s steady progress in english football.
The 25-year old Nigerian continues to shine with his A-level game with his club year after year.
4. Simy Nwankwo (Crotone/Italy)
The goal hero of Crotone has continued to shine even though the clubs are on the verge of relegation to the Italian second division.
Simy has continued to perform at the highest level including goals against the biggest team in the Italian league.
Behind Paul Onuachu of Genk, Sum is the next Nigeria’s most prolific attacker, scoring goals week in week out for his club in the Italian Serie A.
Even though Crotone has struggled to keep up with the standard of the Italian league, Simy still remains the main driving force behind the club’s success in recent times.
5. Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City/ England)
Kelechi Iheanacho is a professional footballer who plays for Leicester City and the Super Eagles. Nicknamed Senior man Kels.
Iheanacho is currently the hottest Nigerian attacker in England.
Kelechi Iheanacho saw a quick rise in his career at the King Power Stadium after years of neglect.
At least, the injury on Harvey Barnes and proved to be an opportunity for him to shine.
Since the departure of the promising winger, Iheanacho had been good given a chance to start alongside Jamie Vardy, who’s been in a goal drought.
Iheanacho is another talent that has suffered under the radar and one of the most underrated since moving from Manchester City for the Foxes.
But in 2021, he has returned with a high mark which saw him break a record held by Chelsea legend Didier Drogba as the new FA Cup African all-time goalscorer.
6. Semi Ajayi (Westbromwich Albion/England)
Semi Ajayi is a professional footballer who plays for Premier League outfit West Bromwich Albion and has previously played for Rotherham FC.
This season, he has contributed a lot to the survival of his club even as the Baggies face an uphill task in a bid to avoid relegation from the English Premier League after just one season.
Semi is one of the most important first-team players and was also the goalscorer for West Brom in a shock win over Liverpool in a league match.
Ajayi has been one of the main backbones of West Bromwich Albion despite the club’s current placement in the Premier League.
Ajayi has helped West Brom in the dark including scoring the only goal as the Baggies defeated Premier League defending Champions Liverpool.
Ajayi is one of the promising defenders in the Premier League even though Westbromwich Albion had struggled with the high standards of the English Premier League.
Started from Arsenal before moving to Rotherham, Simy has continued with his blistering form and continued upwards with his career.
7. Samuel Chukewze (Villareal/ England)
Chukewze is one of the core players at Villarreal. The impressive performance from the winger helped the Spanish La Liga side to the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League.
The versatile winger is one of the most promising players in Europe.
Chukweze is one of the major contributor to Villareal’s success most especially in the UEFA Europa league where the club had already reached the quarter finals.
The fast dribbler is one of the fast-rising nigerian footballers in European football.
8. Zaidu Sanusi (Porto/Portugal)
The defender who plays for FC Porto in the Portuguese Primeira Liga shock the world with his defensive abilities, leading Porto to a surprise elimination of Juventus in the round of sixteen in the UEFA Champions League.
Zaidu is currently one of the highly-rated defenders in the Portuguese league this season.
Zaidu is an outstanding defender and one of the fast-rising left-backs in the Portuguese Primeira Liga with Porto.
His brilliance was seen as Porto Eliminated Juventus from the UEFA Champions League Round of 16.
Zaidu also played a solid role in the Super Eagles quest for qualification for the African Cup of Nations.
He is also expected to be in line for starting shirt when Nigeria begins preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers for the main event in Qatar.
Zaidu is expected to further improve on his career.
9. Peter Olayinka Midtjylland
10. Joe Aribo (Rangers/Scotland)
Aribo is a central midfielder who plays for Scottish Premiership Champions Rangers.
His form was also a contributor as the Rangers overcame a long wait to lift yet again another Scottish league title.
Aribo forms a key part of the Nigeria team. He is one of the top players in the squad.
Joe Aribo was having fun in the Scottish Premiership as he empowered a five-star performance to help Rangers clinch the Scottish Premiership title off Celtic after a long wait.
Aribo was full of praises by his coach at the end of season awards.