11 Aug 2015

Done Deal Tomorrow: 'Wonderful' striker flying-in for Liverpool medical and 'will' sign for LFC

Liverpool's recruitment of young players continues apace, and new reports this week suggest that the Reds are close to sealing a deal for one African football's brightest talents.

According to an alleged exclusive on AfricanFootball.com (and picked up by several British newspapers):

* Nigeria U23 striker Taiwo Awoniyi is close to signing for Liverpool.

* Awoniyi is 'due shortly in England for a medical', after which he will be loaned to a club 'in either Belgium or Holland'.

The Daily Express further claims:

"Awoniyi 'will sign a professional contract' with Liverpool once he turns 18 on Wednesday".

Some info about Awoniyi:

* Represented Nigeria at U15, U17 and U20 levels.

* 2013: Helped Nigeria win the U17 World Cup.

* On the books at Swedish side Kalmar FF (1 goal/2 assists in 2 games so far), but the club is resigned to losing Awoniyi when he turns 18.

* This week, Kalmar's sports director Andersson Borstam told reporters: "There's been around 10-15 clubs who are interested in him [Awoniyi], and it is likely that he ends up in a big club".

* Manchester United 'representatives' spoke with Awoniyi re a possible transfer to Old Trafford, but interest died off due to uncertainty over registration rights.

* Awoniyi is a Chelsea fan, and playing for the London club is one of his 'dreams'.

Awoniyi appears to highly regarded in African football. In April, Kogi United's goalkeeper coach, Wasiu Lawal, told SL10:

"He [Awoniyi] is a very wonderful striker. I give him all the credit for Nigeria’s qualification to the All Africa Games. The whole team did a very good job, but he stands tall".

Ghana legend Asamoah Gyan is also impressed, and after watching Awoniyi play for Nigeria, told FIFA.com:

"I like him, that No18, Awoniyi, he is a good player. He does all the work up there and creates a lot. This is my kind of player.”

Upon hearing about Gyan's praise, Awoniyi enthused:

“Wow. He [Gyan] is such a great striker and he knows that it isn’t always about scoring. A lot of times you have to work hard so that your team-mates can be the ones to get the goals.”

As his comments show, Awoniyi appears to have his feet firmly on the ground, and he illustrated this again in a couple of recent interviews:

* Speaking to Vangguard Nigeria, Awoniyi noted: “I am a striker and it is my job to score goals. People say good things about me but I’m just focused on my game because I’m still learning. I’m working hard to improve and don’t allow those things get to my head".

* In another interview, Awoniyi showed a level of humility that's arguably rare in young players: "I must thank my team­mates for the support they are giving me. Without the other players providing me with assists, I wouldn’t have got those goals".

As I've noted many times, no overseas attacking players have ever made it through the Academy to become first-team regulars at Liverpool, so Awoniyi will face the same problems as countless other promising attackers over the years.

On the plus side, Awoniyi appears to have the right attitude to succeed, but like so many others, he'll probably be corrupted by the pernicious greed and avarice at the heart of the modern game.

Until then, Awoniyi is a man of simple tastes, and in comparison to pampered, grossly overpraised mercenaries like Raheem Sterling, he is refreshingly down to earth. Indeed, after winning the U-17 World Cup, Awoniyi told FIFA.com:

“It [winning] changed the lives of most of us, many got clubs abroad and changed the lives of our families. I was able to build a house for myself, like most of the other players in the team.”

Pretty humbling stuff. I'll take a player with this attitude over Sterling et al every day of the week.

Author: Jaimie K


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