Ikenwa NNABUOGOR writes that the NFF must move fast to grab Arsenal starlet Bukayo Saka before the England Lions do…
Arsenal star Bukayo Saka has got Nigerian blood gushing in his veins and so the NFF must move fast to get the exciting youngster to play for Nigeria, his roots.
Saka, just 18, has been in the news for the right reasons and slowing down on his superb and assured performances appears not to be in his agenda.
The former England youth international seems to have accelerated his new-found form and international recognition by not only locking down the left back position of the resurgent Gunners, but also playing for fun in the struggling North London side.
His recent showings especially under new boss and former Arsenal player Mikel Arteta have not gone unnoticed from the two keenly watching camps – England and Nigeria – who wouldn’t mind having the budding youngster in their squads.
Interestingly, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) have reportedly opened talks with the youngster and his parents with a view to having him come on board for the Super Eagles.
Reports also continued that he would be invited for the AFCON 2021 qualifier against Sierra Leone in Asaba next month on a “special” capacity, while his international future is sorted before he officially switches his allegiance to Nigeria having represented England at various youth levels.
That’s where the issue lies – he will have to be cleared for the England Football Association to complete the process which also includes getting a Nigerian passport to enable him wear the Super Eagles colours.
Great move by the NFF no doubt, but this effort must be doubled to complete the process in time to grab him from under the noses of England.
Bad news for Nigeria should England boss Gareth Southgate decide to include him in his team, but a whole lot lies on Saka as to which camp he wants to pitch his tent.
Doubling of efforts on the part of NFF must also make Saka and his immediate family see why he stands a better chance playing for his roots than the country he was.
Eagles left back position has not witnessed assured covering since Taye Taiwo and perhaps Elderson Echiejile left the scene and the coming of Saka is expected to provide the missing link as Germany-based left back Jamilu Collins’ on and off performances are yet to receive the blessings of the ever critical Nigerian fans.
Saka has been doing that beat with superb assurance for ‘The Gunners’ and will be expected to bring same to Eagles when he finally moves over.
He might be 18, but his brilliance and awareness of his resume cannot be easily wished and all that will be to Nigeria’s advantage.
Who knows he could even be captaining Eagles in near future?
Whichever way you look at it Saka will be a great advantage to the Eagles squad going forward and the presence of Rangers’ midfielder Joe Ayodele-Aribo and Bordeaux striker Josh Maja will help the Arsenal starlet settle down fast.
Most importantly if the NFF successfully get it right getting the diaspora Nigerians settle down to real brass tacks with the Super Eagles, the doors will be flung wide open for more diaspora Nigerians with Nigerian blood rushing in their veins scattered all over Europe.
Good news Dutch Eredivisie top scorer Cyriel Dessers is set to start his international future with Nigeria and this will interest Saka and hopefully more players will follow suit.
Indeed, Saka and the rest will come good for Nigeria if properly harnessed and managed.