It always gladdens the heart when you hear of a Nigerian playing in arguably one of the best football leagues in the world and the recent transfer of Ahmed Musa from Russian giants CSKA Moscow to Premier League champions Leicester City for a club record £18 million, perfectly fits the emotion.
Musa, 23, becomes the foxes’ fourth signing of the summer after earlier deals captured Nampalys Mendy, Ron-Robert Zieler and Luis Hernandez. He has been the most consistent Nigerian player abroad in the last four seasons helping his Russian club to three league titles, Russian cup and the Russian super cup titles as well. His 13 goals in 30 appearances, five assists and a passing accuracy of 74.5% last season ensured CSKA recaptured the league title from Zenith St. Petersburg while giving an all round wonderful performance- his most prolific season since his arrival in Russian topflight.
Plotting the graph of Musa’s burgeoning career since his humble days at the GBS Football Academy and home town club Aminichi from where he would go on to conquer the Nigerian football domestic scene has been nothing but progression. Loan deals to JUTH FC and Kano Pillars where he shone like a million stars allowed him engrave his name in the record books scoring a record 18 goals in a single season before it was bettered by Kaduna United’s Jude Aneke with 20. His performance in Kano Pillars however, sealed a passage to Europe as Musa announced his arrival on the European football scene with Dutch Eredivisie side VVV Venlo.
Even at 5’7” and a slim frame, Musa at first glance does not seem to pose any threat but his greatest and most dangerous attribute yet is his electric speed and the way he loves to run directly at his markers only to leave them confused with his fleet-footed style of dribbling so quick you’ll wonder if he was ever in front of you. His agility, strength and ability to cut in from the wings would make him perfect for the way Claudio Ranieri has positioned his team to play especially when combined with Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez up front.
Perhaps not your sure 25-goal a season player but what Musa brings on the table does ensure that he will create plethora of goal scoring chances for his teammates while recording a couple for himself. A right footed winger who also is comfortable playing on the left would set the Premier League on fire but his composure and awareness could be areas the Leicester coaching team will want to work on.
Musa joins a host of Nigerian talents in the EPL with Chelsea’s John Obi Mikel as a veteran of the league plus upcoming stars like Jude Odion Ighalo (Watford FC), Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City FC) and Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC) already giving him a sense of identity in a league so multi-cultural and so diverse. Musa must quickly try to settle down, although most Africans tend to do that very quickly in England especially with the weather, food, language and culture; perhaps because of the huge presence of the African community in England- Nigeria being the largest.
Now, Musa will once again be the focus and reference of Nigerian football in England just like Austin ‘jay jay’ Okocha and Kanu Nwankwo were a couple of years ago. The acceptance of Nigerian talents most especially in English football has been on the rise once again and so it is very important that Ahmed Musa becomes a success story for Leicester City as it could open up a flood gate of more opportunities for more talents to cross over. It will be paramount that Musa’s story does not become similar to that of Brown Ideye whose move to West Brom was a total failure despite his record signing.
Musa who can play on either side of the wings or as a striker scored 54 goals in 168 matches for his Russian club but will now look to start a new chapter in English football once the season starts in August as Leicester begins the quest of defending the title they won last season in a fairytale manner but also with another focus on the UEFA Champions League, a competition Musa has considerable experience in making 20 appearances for CSKA Moscow.