In a matter of days, the curtain will fall on many domestic football leagues in Europe, where many of the players are also expected to join up with their national teams for EURO 2024.

The leagues in Germany, England, France, Spain and Italy, as Europe’s top five, have reached various concluding stages.

While the German Bundesliga will end on May 18, French Ligue 1 and the English Premier League will be concluded the next day. The Spanish La Liga and the Italian Serie A will be concluded on May 24 and May 26 respectively.

Every season, clubs in these and other leagues in Europe have captivated football enthusiasts all over the world, including in Nigeria, where fans look forward to watching their compatriots lighting up stadiums across Europe. For decades, Nigerian footballers have been plying their trade in European clubs, and a spectacular or decent season by these players adds to the excitement of football fans back home.


There are eight Nigerians currently playing in the EPL: two each at Nottingham Forest, Brentford, Fulham and Luton Town. While it seems like Taiwo Awoniyi and Ola Aina will escape relegation with Forest this season, the duo of Femi Onyedinma and Gabriel Osho is almost certain to go down with Luton Town. However, injuries made it a season to forget for Awoniyi, who, so far, has managed six goals and three assists, unlike last season when he helped his team to stay up.

Alex Iwobi and Calvin Bassey were regular starters for 14th-placed Fulham throughout the season. Brentford, who are 16th on the log, are guaranteed Premier League football next season, thanks partly to Frank Onyeka’s enterprising midfield display all-season. As for U-20 player Benjamin Fredrick, hopefully, he gets his breakthrough into Brentford’s first team next season.

In the English Football League Championship, Wilfred Ndidi flourished under Italian Enzo Maresca and played a crucial role in Leicester City gaining promotion to the EPL. His compatriot, Kelechi Iheanacho, has so far scored five goals and one assist, statistics believed to be a below-par performance for his newly-promoted side.

If Southampton win the Championship playoffs, then Joe Aribo will join Ndidi and Iheanacho in the EPL next season.


The biggest talking point in German football this season is how Bayer 04 Leverkusen have won the Bundesliga for the first time in their 115-year history. For Nigerians, the second-greatest highlight is how 23-year-old Nigerian striker, Victor Boniface, took the league by storm in his debut season. In spite of an injured adductor laying him off for months, Boniface scored 13 goals and eight assists in 22 league games and had been nominated for the Bundesliga Rookie of the Season award.

Boniface’s compatriot and teammate, Nathan Tella, is also enjoying a good season at Leverkusen, so far scoring five goals and two assists from the midfield in the process. Boniface and Tella could end the season with a treble, as Leverkusen are still in contention for the Europa League and German Cup trophies.

Serie A

Twelve Nigerians are playing professional football in Italy’s elite division. Reigning African Footballer of the Year, Victor Osimhen, hasn’t been able to replicate his sparkling goal-scoring form of last season, which saw him spearhead the title run of his Italian club Napoli. However, he is still a prolific striker in Serie A, so far scoring 15 goals and three assists in 24 matches in a season Napoli are sitting in ninth position.

Atalanta’s winger, Ademola Lookman, is having a decent season, which could see his side end up with a trophy when they meet Leverkusen in the Europa League final. Lookman has scored nine goals and six assists in 29 appearances for fifth-placed Atalanta who are poised for European football next season.

After a slow start to life at Serie A, former Villarreal winger, Samuel Chukwuemeka, seems to be settling in gradually at his new home AC Milan. With second-placed Rossoneri guaranteed Champions League football next season, Chukwuemeka will look to improve in his sophomore season.

Internazionale’s Ebenezer Akinsanmiro hasn’t been involved in many of their Serie A games this season, same as Salernitana’s Simeon Nwankwo and Genoa’s David Ankeye. Nwankwo’s teammate, Chukwubuike Ikwuemesi, and Udinese attacker, Isaac Success, have had significant playing times for their various clubs but with few goal returns.

Former Super Eagles first-choice goalkeeper, Maduka Okoye, has made 19 appearances for Udinese this season and has kept four clean sheets. David Ankeye (Genoa), Tyronne Ebuehi (Empoli), David Okereke (Torino), and Victor Eletu (AC Milan) have only played sparingly for their respective clubs this season.

La Liga

There are only two Nigerians in the Spanish top division. Umar Sadiq has made 26 appearances for Real Sociedad this season, scoring three goals and one assist. However, Sadiq’s last La Liga appearance came on April 21 in a 1-1 draw versus Getafe, a match in which he played 22 minutes.

Granada’s Eghosa Bello is the second Nigerian playing in La Liga. However, the attacker has not made any league appearance since joining the club in January. Granada are already relegated regardless of what happens in the rest of the season.

Ligue 1

Teremas Moffi (Nice), Akor Adams (Montpellier), Gift Orban (Olympique Lyonnais), Bonke Innocent (Lorient) and Moses Simon (Nantes) are the five Nigerian players in Ligue 1. Moffi has appeared for Nice 28 times, scoring 11 goals and two assists to make him his club’s top scorer and joint-eighth in the league.

Adams has also featured for Montpellier 31 times this season, netting eight goals and is his club’s second-top scorer in the league, while Moses, with 22 appearances for Nates this term, has scored three goals so far.

However, Orban has just 13 league appearances – mostly as a substitute – with only a goal to show, while Innocent has been involved in only four Ligue 1 matches so far for Lorient.

Other European leagues

Over 20 Nigerians are playing in the Czech Liga, including Igoh Ogbu, Mohamed Tijani and Ubong Ekpai, all playing for Slavia Prague. Victor Olatunji plays for Sparta Prague.

Two Nigerians play for Chaves in the Portuguese Primeira Liga: attacker Kelechi Nwakali and defender Junior Pius. While Nwakali has scored one goal and four assists, Pius has yet to play a league game this season.

Zaidu Sanusi has appeared five times for FC Porto this season, but Boavista’s Chidozie Awaziem has appeared for his side 27 times this season. Awaziem’s teammate, left-back Bruno Onyemaechi, has featured 31 times for Boavista this season.

In Belgium, the Jupiler Pro League has 10 Nigerian footballers playing for Genk (5), Antwerp (3), Sporting Charleroi (1) and Club Brugge (1). However, the majority of these players do not enjoy playing time in their respective clubs. For instance, at Genk, only Jordan Torunarigha has made meaningful appearances this season. He has been selected in the starting XI 27 times and made three substitute appearances, while Ahmed Abdullahi, Toluwalase Arokodare, Christian Akpan, and Yira Sor have been largely inactive.

An analysis of media content shows that except for a few, the majority of Nigerian players plying their trade in Europe played fringe roles in the season that is about to end. However, these players have exported the flair and athleticism which had been the hallmark of Nigerian football. Their playing styles have gone a long way in influencing the various leagues globally.

Similarly, their presence in those football leagues offered a wider pool for coaches to select the players to represent the country in various competitions on the global stage.

. Adebiyi writes for the News Agency of Nigeria.