Super Eagles interim head coach Augustine Eguavoen has hinted that midfielder Kelechi Nwakali is in contention for a spot at the upcoming African Cup of Nations.
Eguavoen has been vocal about his admiration for the former Arsenal youngster and has reportedly been in touch with him since becoming the head coach.
And although Kelechi Nwakali was left off the initial provisional list, Eguavoen revealed that he’s contacted CAF in a bid to make alterations.
“I and Kelechi we spoke but, he’s not on that list submitted to CAF. If there’s a possibility, yes, I like the kid.” Eguavoen responded on the possibility of Nwakali’s inclusion.
This leads me to wonder if Kelechi Nwakali is worth the trouble?
How good is Kelechi Nwakali?
Those who followed Nwakali at the under-17 level will tell you he’s a Mikel Obi and Jay-Jay Okocha hybrid. Others might know him as the kid that failed to make it through the ranks at Arsenal.
The most accurate description would be an attacking midfielder who’s having himself a decent season. Kelechi Nwakali has been a regular fixture for SD Huesca in the Spanish second division.
He has played in 18 of Huesca’s 21 league games so far. Twelve as a starter and six off the bench. Nwakali mostly plays as an attacking midfielder for the Spanish club but, he has also been deployed in central midfield a few times.
His strengths lie in his vision and ability to pick a pass. Kelechi Nwakali is also very confident in possession. He rarely gives the ball away, which is a crucial quality for any player in this era of football.
His biggest weakness and perhaps the only reason he’s still yet to hit the limelight at 23 years old is his lack of end product. Despite playing as a number 10, Nwakali has neither scored nor assisted a goal for Huesca this season.
His last goal was in April against Leganes last season, according to the records on Transfermrket.
If the records are true, then it gets worse.
Kelechi Nwakali’s last official assist is as far back as February 2018.
How would Kelechi Nwakali fit into the Super Eagles?
It depends on the plans of Augustine Eguavoen and how he wants his team to play. But if Kelechi Nwakali does get the call-up, he would be a solid midfield option.
With Oghenekaro Etebo still injured, Wilfried Ndidi, Joe Aribo and Frank Onyeka are the guaranteed options in midfield right now, which means Nigeria needs one more central midfielder.
Gernot Rohr tried out the likes of Innocent Bonke and Kingsley Michael but, neither of them was eye-catching. Kelechi Nwakali could be that fourth central midfield option.
He would easily be the best passer among the four and come on in games against a low block.
His lack of productivity means he shouldn’t be anywhere near the number 10 role, rather let him sit deep and use his vision like Mikel Obi used to.