Kalu, Ebuehi biggest gainers, Etebo a big loser

Gernot Rohr must have been licking his lips when Samuel Kalu was linked with a move to his old club Bordeaux.

The summer transfer market closed in England on Thursday with no Nigerian making a move to a top Premier League outfit.

Although the transfer window in Spain, Germany, France and Italy goes on until August 31, there is no indication that any Nigerian player will make a major move.

The veteran German manager must have prayed silently for Les Girondins not to make a U-turn if Belgian Juliper League side Gent decided to dig their heels in over their prized Nigerian wide-man.

After agreeing a five-year deal worth a reported €8m on Sunday, Kalu was unveiled by the Ligue 1 giants on Tuesday. Bordeaux’s Uruguayan manager Gustavo Poyet signed the former Slovakia-based attacker, who scored seven goals in 32 appearances for Gent in the Belgian Juliper League last season, as a direct replacement for Brazil winger Malcom, who swapped the French side for La Liga powerhouse Barcelona this summer for €30m.

Rohr has since hailed the 20-year-old’s move to Matmut Atlantique, where he achieved a cult status while playing as defender for Le club au scapulaire for 12 years – and later managed them to the 1996 UEFA Cup final.

The 65-year-old hinted in an interview with Girondins4ever published on Wednesday that he would give Kalu a chance to play his way into the Super Eagles by involving him in the Cameroon 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.

Kalu’s teammate at Gent Moses Simon incidentally moved to Spain to join struggling La Liga club Levante in a five-year-old reportedly worth €5m.

Rohr will also be excited that the 23-year-old, who missed out on his Russia 2018 World Cup squad due to injury, has finally realised his ambition to move to a club where he could realise his full potential playing in La Liga.

Other notable Nigerian players who changed clubs in the summer are Ahmed Musa, Oghenekaro Etebo, Leon Balogun, Tyronne Ebuehi and Kelechi Nwakali.

Dutch-born Ebuehi, who began his professional career at ADO Den Haag and scored once in 82 appearances for The Hague side, signed a five-year deal to join Portuguese powerhouse Benfica before the Russia 2018 World Cup for an undisclosed fee.

Certainly, joining Benfica from ADO Den Haag is a big step up in the 22-year-old defender’s career. He will be strutting his stuff at the 64,642-capacity Estadio da Luz in Lisbon after returning from his long hip injury lay-off. The right-back played at the 15,00-capacity Cars Jeans Stadion home ground of ADO Den Haag for four years.

Etebo, who was one of Russia 2018 performers, made a shock move to English second tier club Stoke City from Portuguese club Feirense on a five-year deal reportedly worth £6m before the World Cup began.

The 22-year-old was loaned to Spanish club La Palmas by Feirense obviously to help them escape relegation from La Liga, and thereafter seal a permanent deal to remain at Estadio Gran Canaria.

But La Palmas failed to beat the drop, and their Nigerian loanee would not go down with them as he returned to his parent club in Portugal.

Prior to his move to Stoke, a raft of clubs were linked with the former Warri Wolves midfielder, who made the 2018 World Cup XI after the first round of matches.

Portuguese Primeira Liga giants Porto, Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce and mid-table Premier League club Leicester City were said to have made moves to sign the box-to-box midfielder.

However, the player opted for the Potters, who are relying on him to spearhead their promotion push this season.

Etebo, who helped the Eagles break up play and drive the attack, has come in for withering criticisms from many of his fans for settling for second tier league football.

And some of the Potters fans, who were excited by their new mobile and energetic signee’s impressive performances in the World Cup, are of the opinion that the Nigeria star is too good to play in their club, who got relegated from the Premier League at the end of last season. Some of his critics feel he made a hasty decision to put pen-to-paper to play at the Britannia Stadium for the next five years. They believe his performance at the World Cup could have attracted the big sides.

Some of Balogun’s fans are critical of his move from Mainz 05 to Premier League strugglers Brighton after his contract at the German Bundesliga side expired at the end of last season. The 30-year-old German-born Nigeria centre-back joined the Seagulls as a free agent.

Nwakali joined Porto’s second team on a season-long loan deal from Arsenal last month.

The Portuguese powerhouse have an option to make the deal permanent next year, meaning Arsenal, who signed the 19 year-old midfielder in 2016, don’t believe he can make it at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners had previously loaned the player to MVV Maastricht and VVV Venlo.

Although Rohr has backed Musa’s decision to dump Leicester for a big-money move to Saudi Arabia club Al-Nassr this month, the former Burkina Faso manager must have been left seething with anger as one of his best players made the move to a footballing backwater like Saudi.

The Nigeria winger, who made a club record £16m transfer to Leicester from CSKA Moscow in 2016, endured a torrid time at King Power Stadium where he was rendered redundant.

The 25-year-old scored only two goals in 21 Premier League appearances before returning to CSKA in January on a loan deal.

Musa has come under a firestorm of criticisms from many of his fans for “ making a wrong move”, and goalkeeping great Peter Rufai is one of his most strident critics.

However, Rohr will be happy with Ebuehi and Kalu, who are arguably among the biggest gainers, and Etebo arguably one of the highest losers in the summer market so far.