Rangers Manager, Steven Gerrard, is very optimistic that he can turn the fortune of the Scottish club around and make it a strong contender in Europe. As part of his drive is the acquisition of Nigerian U-23 player, Sadiq Umar. The question on the lips of observers, however, is whether the stage is set for Umar to take his game to the next level
Sadiq Umar’s move to Roma in 2015 was seen as a big one but he never really settled down at the capital club and it came as a little surprise when he was eventually sent on a year loan to Bologna and another loan spell to Torino.
But since taking charge Glasgow Rangers, Manager Stephen Gerrard has never hidden his love for the Nigerian and indeed praised his side’s acquisition of Umar claiming that the club will provide him the platform to take his career to the next level.
“Umar is a player with huge potential and I think he is looking for the next stage to take his career to the next level. Rangers can give this boy a stage and platform to perform on,” Gerrard stated.
“We’re a fan of Umar Sadiq. He’d bring us a forward option – height, power, presence. He’s a player that works too hard believe it or not. He does tons and tons of running. He’s very enthusiastic. He’s the type of player who gives you just as much out of possession as he does in possession which is very important,” Gerrard told Dailyrecord.co.uk.
“We’ve got an interest but at the moment he’s still a Roma player. It’s ongoing. We have to be respectful and see how it progresses but he’s someone we like. There is nothing to report on it yet in terms of progress but we do like the player. We’ll have to see how that one materialises .
“There’s a group of names we’re monitoring and assessing and in the forward areas. I’ve tried to go from back to front. That doesn’t mean I have to sign a midfielder before a forward but defence was definitely a priority.”
But it remains to be seen how well Umar can cash-in on the advantage presented to him by Gerrard.
In a chat with THISDAY, former Nigerian international, Tajudeen Disu is of the opinion that Umar would take advantage of what Rangers is presenting.
“There is nothing as good for a player than when his coach strongly believes in him and that is what Umar would be enjoying at Rangers. Gerrard has never hidden his love for his style of play, which he believes was lacking in Rangers. All that is left for Umar to do is to settle down as quickly as possible,” Disu said.
Disu said coaches go a long way in the development of a player and shaping their career.
“Victor Moses should be a very good example to many Nigerian players after he was sent on several loan spells by Jose Mourinho, but the arrival of Antonio Conte to Chelsea changed everything. The Italian believed in him so much and Moses himself did not disappoint. The same advantage has fallen on the lapse of Umar and it’s left for him to take advantage of it,” the former captain of the defunct Abiola Babes said.
Umar was born in Kaduna on February 2, 1997. In 2013, he joined the Future of Africa Football Academy and the Abuja Football College. He finished as the top scorer at the Croatian Kvarnerska Rivijera youth tournament as his side Abuja Football College won the competition.
Soon after the Kvarnerska Rivijera youth tournament, Umar signed for Serie B side, Spezia who sent him on loan to Serie D club, Lavagnese, where he scored 26 goals in 24 matches for the youth team becoming the youth top scorer in Italy.
In June 2015, Umar joined Roma on a season-long loan. Having bagged eight goals and three assists in his first four youth matches for Roma, he made his Serie A against Bologna. Towards the end of the season, his move to Roma was made permanent for a fee of £2 million and completed his first season at Roma scoring two goals in six Serie A appearances.
In 2016, Umar was selected for their final 18-man squad for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio.
He scored the Nigeria Olympic team’s first goal and also scored the only goal of the next match against Sweden. He also scored the first and third goals in the Bronze medal match against Honduras in the same tournament.