Nigeria is home to an emerging crop of centre-forwards right now, with Super Eagles strikers making their mark across Europe’s top leagues.
There’s a number of Nigerian names who have started the season in strong form, raising optimism that the African nation can challenge with the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations fast approaching.
José Peseiro is hardly short of firepower as he looks to lead Nigeria to a first continental triumph in a decade and we’ve profiled five Nigerian forwards who are thriving at club level this season.
Super Eagles! Five Nigeria strikers impressing in European leagues:
Victor Osimhen is the poster-boy for Nigerian football right now, having emerged as one of Europe’s most coveted centre-forwards at Napoli. The 24-year-old is arguably the most popular player in Naples since the legendary Diego Maradona, having achieved cult status with his role in the club’s drought-breaking Serie A title last season.
Osimhen scored 26 league goals to win the Capocannoniere award as Serie A’s leading scorer and fired 31 goals in all competitions as Napoli also reached the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time.
Despite reported interest from Europe’s wealthiest clubs, Napoli held on to their prized possession and Osimhen has picked up where he left off, scoring three goals in four league appearances this season.
— Lega Serie A (@SerieA_EN) January 30, 2023
Boasting power, pace and an extraordinary leap, Osimhen is capable of scoring all manner of goals from simplistic tap-ins, to thunderous drives, and towering headers.
He’s scored 20 goals in just 26 caps for the Super Eagles at international level and is already fourth among Nigeria’s record scorers, chasing down the nation’s all-time goal record currently held by Rashidi Yekini (37).
Taiwo Awoniyi was one of the early deals done upon Nottingham Forest’s return to the Premier League last season, signing from Union Berlin in a then club-record £17.5m deal.
Awoniyi had scored 20 goals in all competitions for the Bundesliga side the previous season and returned to England after spending time in Liverpool’s academy set-up as a youngster. After a modest start he found his groove during the run-in, scoring six goals in the final four games as Forest preserved their Premier League status.
The 26-year-old has opened the new campaign in a similar vein and scored in the first three games of the Premier League season, to extend his record to seven consecutive league games scored in.
Taiwo Awoniyi’s last 9 Premier League games:
⚽⚽ vs. Southampton
⚽⚽ vs. Chelsea
⚽ vs. Arsenal
⚽ vs. Crystal Palace
⚽ vs. Arsenal
⚽ vs. Sheffield United
⚽ vs. Manchester United
🅰️ vs. Chelsea
🅰️ vs. Burnley
Can’t stop, won’t stop. 😮💨 pic.twitter.com/tl78QtJNdT
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) September 18, 2023
Awoniyi’s hulking presence has added a formidable focal point to Steve Cooper’s side and a pair of assists has since followed his run of goals, meaning the Nigerian has now scored or assisted in each of his last nine Premier League appearances.
Only Mohamed Salah (13) has been involved in more Premier League goals than Awoniyi (11) since the start of May 2023, with the Forest forward level with Erling Haaland.
Victor Boniface has fast made himself a household name in the Bundesliga, after an electric start to his career with Bayer Leverkusen.
The 22-year-old has taken a sensible step-by-step route to Europe’s top leagues, first at Norwergian overachievers Bodø/Glimt, before a prolific season at Belgium’s Union Saint-Gilloise.
Boniface bagged 17 goals in all competitions last season and ended the 2022/23 campaign as the Europa League’s leading scorer, a return which persuaded Leverkusen to spend €20m plus add ons on the forward.
That investment already seems shrewd with Boniface named as the Bundesliga’s Player of the Month in August, after taking to the division like a duck to water. The Nigerian has scored five goals in four appearances in all competitions for a Leverkusen side who lead the league after four games. That form led to a first international inclusion and Boniface made his debut for Nigeria during September’s international break.
Xabi Alonso might just have found the forward he needs to challenge the Bundesliga dominance of Bayern Munich.
Terem Moffi turned down interest from the Premier League in favour of signing for Nice last season, joining the French side on loan from divisional rivals Lorient before the move was made permanent.
Moffi scored 18 league goals last season across spells at both clubs and has opened the new season in strong form with three goals and two assists in five Ligue 1 games.
The 24-year-old’s return includes a brace in a 3-2 win over Paris Saint-Germain, a fixture which saw Moffi receive an angry response from Kylian Mbappe after removing his shirt and showing it to the Parisian crowd. Unapologetically, Moffi trolled the PSG superstar on Instagram afterwards.
WHAT A MENACE, TEREM MOFFI 🔥🇳🇬 pic.twitter.com/Bnse6yPJwl
— Ligue 1 English (@Ligue1_ENG) September 17, 2023
Moffi has scored three goals in 10 appearances for the Super Eagles at international level, but was left out of the squad for the 2023 AFCON qualification match against São Tomé and Príncipe in September. There’s fierce competition for places in the national squad.
Gift Orban is the latest Nigerian name turning the heads of recruitment teams across Europe. Orban has exploded onto the European scene across the last 12 months, scoring at an astonishing rate for Stabæk and Gent.
Orban ended 2022 as the leading scorer in Norway’s second tier to earn a move to Belgian side Gent in January, where the 21-year-old has since scored 26 goals in 31 appearances.
Orban’s goals included a first-half hat-trick at İstanbul Başakşehir in last season’s UEFA Europa Conference League, the fastest ever in UEFA club competition after being scored in just three minutes and 25 seconds.
— UEFA Europa Conference League (@europacnfleague) March 17, 2023
Premier League clubs are understood to be on alert, with Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and Fulham linked during the summer. Should Orban – who was included in the Nigeria squad for the first time in September – continue to score at his current rate, that list of suitors will lengthen.