Paul Onuachu’s dream of plying his football trade in mainstream Europe may not be determined by where he wants to go but rather by which club bids highest
The Belgian giants, Club Brugge reportedly submitted a bid of €5m for Super Eagles and FC Midtjylland forward Paul Onuachu.
According to a report in Belgian media, Brugge manager, Phillipe Clement is a keen admirer of the Nigerian international and is leaving no stone unturned to see that the Nigerian forward join the club.
Clement and Club Brugge are familiar with nurturing Nigerian talents with the Belgium Jupiler League champions already having two Nigerians in their books.
David Okereke recently linked up with the club from Italian side, Spezia, while U-23 Eagles forward Dennis Blessed is already a key member of the team.
However, Danish club FC Midtjylland claim they are yet to receive a satisfactory bid for Onuachu, despite willing to cash in on the lanky striker who has impressed for the Danish Cup champion since linking up with the club from Nigerian club FC Ebedei in 2012.
“Paul is on holiday now, and when he returns to Denmark, we must have found the right club for him. It is, of course, something we are already doing, and there have been lots of inquiries and bids, but nothing has been satisfactory. So far, we have chosen to say no,” Claus Steinlein, Chief Executive Officer, FC Midtjylland told tipsbladet.dk.
Meanwhile, Rangers could be boosted by FC Midtjylland selling their star striker ahead of a possible Europa League showdown.
Steven Gerrard’s side would face a third qualifying round Europa League showdown with the Danes if they can take care of Progres Niederkorn this time.
But Midtjylland may have to lose one of their key men with Club Brugge and Anderlecht both preparing £5million offers for Nigerian striker Onuachu.
Onuachu entered the record books when he scored Nigeria’s fastest ever goal in a one-nil friendly victory over Egypt.
The gangling striker started Nigeria’s first game against Burundi at the just concluded Africa Cup of Nations, a match the Super Eagles won by a lone goal.
He may not have scored any goal in Egypt but the 25-year-old was in incredible form last season for the Danish side banging in 14 goals in 39 league appearances.
Such impressive statistics have turned the attention of several clubs towards Onuachu who is now set to switch clubs.
Onuachu has made 134 league appearances for Midtjylland and scored 51 goals.
He was part of the Super Eagles side that won bronze at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Cup in Egypt.
The 24-year-old was playing amateur football barely five years ago and almost did not even make it to the professional ranks. While turning out as an offensive midfielder for Young Stars Academy in Lagos, Nigeria, Onuachu’s growth spurt meant he could not quite function effectively in that playmaking role and his future as a footballer looked in doubt. His father, growing impatient, decided it would be better for his younger son to leave football and either continue his education or become a trader at the popular Alaba Electronics Market in Lagos.
That was when fortune played its part. First, his coaches at Young Stars decided to convert him to a striker, where his emerging physical attributes could be more of an asset.
“It was tough for him as he was growing taller. We had options to either move him to defensive midfield, central defence or attack. We decided that because of his great footwork, which would be wasted if he played so deep, we should make him a striker,” said Young Stars coach Osahon Emokpae to ESPN FC.
Then he was spotted by FC Ebedei’s Churchill Oliseh, a man whose track record of spotting and promoting talent includes the likes of Obafemi Martins, Stephen Makinwa and current Nigerian midfielder Sylvester Igboun .
“As soon as I saw him, I knew he was special,” said Oliseh to ESPN FC. “And as I always do with my players, we immediately put him on scholarship at Golden Gate College, Sagamu while he played and lived at the academy.”
While at school, Onuachu played for Ebedei, including a friendly match against Nigeria’s U-23 team in which he was head a shoulders above everyone else, and not just physically.
“Some of the team officials came to me and said I should tell him to show more respect to his senior international colleagues and not embarrass them too much,” Oliseh said.
Within months of leaving school, where he passed his O Levels with seven credits, and finishing as third-highest scorer in the Nigerian second division, Onuachu was off to Denmark to join Ebedei’s parent club, Midjytlland.
Oliseh insisted that the 24-year-old Onuachu, who was a member of his school’s 4x100m relay team, has all the tools. “For a player with his height, he has good dribbling ability. People of his height only rely mostly on their aerial strength, but he can play, both in the air and on the ground. And he has speed,” said Oliseh.
Onuachu moved to Danish club FC Midtjylland in 2012, on a scholarship, from their affiliate team in Nigeria, FC Ebedei. He was a prolific scorer for their youth team, and made his first-team debut in the Cup later that year, before making his league debut in December 2012. In June 2013, he signed a new three-year contract with the club, before extending it for further three-years in August 2015. In early 2015, he was loaned to Vejle BK, before returning to FC Midtjylland ahead of the 2015–16 season.
Onuachu is known for his goal-scoring exploits in Europe, especially his 77th-minute winning goal for Midtjylland against Manchester United in their Europa League last-32 first-leg tie in 2017. In October 2018, Paul Onuachu bagged a hat-trick in FC Midtjylland’s 4-1 away victory at FC Nordsjaelland. Onuachu has scored 17 goals this season with Midtjylland.
Onuachu, however, admitted he would love to play for Arsenal. “The way they play is just the kind of football I like to see and so I would like to play for Arsenal at one point…”