EPL: Concerns about the national team as Super Eagles players are relegated

Is Taiwo Awoniyi deserving of a memorial in Nottingham Forest? Maybe. No, not yet.

However, his contributions to the Premier League club's survival this season were significant.

Awoniyi scored five goals against Southampton, Chelsea, and Arsenal to ensure Forest's survival.

The Super Eagles striker joined from Union Berlin for a record fee in the summer, but he had to play second fiddle to Jesse Lingard for a long time.

But with Lingard injured and out of the side, Steve Cooper turned to Awoniyi, who responded with crucial goals. Emmanuel Dennis has also chipped in with two goals.

It was not the case for their compatriot, Paul Onuachu.

Onuachu became one of the hottest strikers in Europe while he was with Gent. He scored 79 times in 114 appearances for the Belgian club before he moved to Southampton in January.

The 28-year-old has endured a tough time with the Saints, making 11 appearances and scoring no goal, as they were relegated to the Championship.

Another Nigerian player, Joe Aribo, found himself out of the Southampton side as their season ended in despair.

Relegation has not been confirmed for Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi at Leicester City yet.

Iheanacho has scored only eight goals in 33 appearances for the Foxes, while Ndidi has been responsible for some of the goals they have conceded.

Everton’s Alex Iwobi has contributed only two goals in 40 appearances this season.

Kunle Elemo, a media executive with one of Nigeria’s top betting companies, tries to explain what may have happened.

“I think the current relegation battles reflect where the quality of our players are as a country.

“We have good players, but only a couple who can really make a difference at the highest levels. Osimhen and maybe Ndidi, if he can regain his form,” Elemo said.

Does this have a knock-on effect on Nigeria’s national team as it regards Jose Peseiro’s team selection?

Elemo adds: “I think it’s time to optimise two things going forward: The right formation, form and team chemistry.

“In Chukwueze and Lookman, Simon etc, we have good wide players who can line up alongside Osimhen in attack.

“Iwobi’s new role at Everton also means we can play a 4-3-3 with him, Ndidi and Aribo more effectively now.

“I don’t know if we’ll optimise for merit in the coming months. After all, it’s still Nigeria where things consistently going wrong when X route is followed means our administrators remain committed to X.

“Should we prioritise players who are doing well in more competitive leagues over big names who followed their clubs into lesser leagues? Yes. Will we? I think you know the answer to that question.”

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