Omeruo too good for Boro
Omeruo: From the World Cup to the Championship
Nigeria’s best player in Brazil will return to Middlesbrough for the second season running, but is that really the best he can do?
Ask most Nigerian football fans who the best player was for the Super Eagles in Brazil and seven times out of 10, you are likely to hear “Vincent Enyeama!”
It was indeed that bad.
There are few teams with designs on world domination who would list their goalkeeper as their best player. It was not a tournament for enhancing reputations.
The other three respondents though are likely to say “Kenneth Omeruo,” a view considerably closer to the mark. The Chelsea defender is really the only outfield player in the Nigerian side that emerged with credit from the World Cup. There is a distinctly ‘un-African’ quality to his defensive style; indeed, in a continent whose football is often lazily stereotyped as physical, Omeruo is a refreshing departure from the norm. Elegant on the ball and almost psychic in his anticipation of danger (he made a team-high 11 interceptions in Brazil), he has become a leader at the heart of Nigeria’s defence, despite being the youngest member of the back four.
It is bewildering that, having shone so brightly at the World Cup, the Chelsea defender will spend the next season on loan at Championship side Middlesbrough. Juxtapose this with the fact Brown Ideye just extracted a club-record transfer fee from Premier League West Bromwich Albion, in spite of the fact he did not make the Super Eagles’ squad to Brazil, and it is barely credible.
Someone somewhere clearly is failing to do his job. Ideye was quick and effusive in his praise for his agents in the immediate aftermath of the transfer to the Black Country, and expressed his shock at the immediacy of the move. It is clear to see that Hootan Ahmadi and Ali Barat do not faff about. If only we could say the same of German agent Ohne Berater.
Omeruo |Facing another year away from the limelight he so richly deserves
The World Cup, with global football’s cognoscenti all in one place for four weeks, is the ultimate shop window. Admittedly, there are pitfalls in signing a player based on his performances over seven games or less, but Omeruo can hardly be said to have been flattered by Nigeria’s system as say a player like Ron Vlaar (who contrived to look world-class in a back three for a Dutch team built to counter-attack) was. The 29-year-old Dutchman is drawing attention from across Europe at the moment, Omeruo will be facing the might of Rotherham United and Huddersfield Town in the coming campaign.
There was reportedly some interest from newly-promoted Queens Park Rangers in the Super Eagles’ defender before his decision to drop down to the Championship. Harry Redknapp has brought veteran Rio Ferdinand and Stephen Caulker from Cardiff into his squad in a bid to stave off relegation. Rio is 35 and surely does not have the legs to play every game, but his expertise and know-how could have been vital for Omeruo’s development, whose style is similar to the ex-Manchester United defender.