Nigerian footballers have been involved in big transfers in Europe since the late 1990s. From legendary players like Austin Okocha, Sunday Oliseh, Finidi George and Nwankwo Kanu, to Obafemi Martins, Osaze Odemwingie, Emmanuel Emenike, among others.
In the wake of Victor Osimhen’s big money move to Napoli, a top club in Italy, from Lille, a French Ligue 1 side, TheCable puts together the top five transfers involving Nigerian players in recent years.
5. John Mikel Obi (£16 million)
While the Red Devils initially announced his capture, the Blues showed up later and claimed his signature. United involved FIFA but Chelsea, with Roman Abramovich as its mega-rich owner, settled out of court.
A total of £16 million was involved, £4 million transfer fee for Lyn FC and a hefty £12 million compensation for Man United.
Mikel went on to secure 374 appearances in 10 seasons at the London club, winning 11 trophies including two EPL and one Champions League titles.
4. Odion Ighalo (£20 million)
Now enjoying his time at Manchester United, his dream club, Ighalo shocked Nigerians in 2017 when he moved to China from the EPL where he played for Watford.
An intelligent goal poacher, Watford got paid £20 million for Ighalo’s transfer to Changchun Yatai. The 31-year-old striker’s 36 goals in 55 appearances — 21 of them coming in the second season — could not save the former Chinese Super League club from relegation.
He later moved to Shanghai Shenhua from where he found his way to Manchester United’s Theatre of Dreams on a loan deal.
3. Kelechi Iheanacho (£25 million)
At 20, Kelechi Iheanacho completed a £25 million move to Leicester City from Manchester City in search of more playing time, signing a five-year contract in August 2017.
The Imo state native horned his skills at City’s academy and graduated to the first team in 2015, scoring 21 goals in 64 games before the move.
Leicester City earmarked him as the perfect player to complement the speed of Jamie Vardy in their frontline and shelled out the hefty transfer fee.
2. Alex Iwobi (£34 million)
The 24-year-old attacking midfielder left Arsenal for Everton at the start 2019/20 season, two hours after the transfer window deadline.
Iwobi, nephew to Okocha, is packed with some of his uncle’s flair and dribbling abilities, and they helped him to 15 goals in 148 appearances for Arsenal.
He also managed to create 18 big chances for the Gunners in his last three season with them, second only to Mesut Ozil (25) before his last-minute move to the Toffess.
Limited mostly by injuries, Iwobi has made 25 league appearances for Everton since the move. He has also improved since the club hired Carlo Acellotti, and looks a better player under the guidance of the former AC Milan, Real Madrid, PSG and Chelsea manager.
1. Victor Osimhen (£74 million)
Osimhen’s recently announced £74 million move to Napoli has shattered the transfer record for a Nigerian international and African players.
The 21-year-old started to gain global attention following his stellar performances at the 2015 Under-17 World Cup where he won the golden boot. He, however, got his big break at Royal Charleroi of Belgium in 2018 where he scored 19 goals and followed it up with 18 goals in 38 matches at LOSC Lille.
He was also voted the club’s player of the year and also named the Best African Player In Ligue 1 for year 2020.