Samuel Kalu: An Ace in Rohr’s Sleeve

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With a not too impressive outing at the 2018 World Cup, Super Eagles Manager, Gernot Rohr, is already looking ahead of a good performance at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and one of the players he’s looking up to is ‘wonder kid’, Samuel Kalu

Samuel Kalu was Last Tuesday unveiled by the French Ligue 1 club, Bordeaux after the attacking winger dumped Belgian side Gent to sign a five-year contract to play for Les Girondins, a team where Nigeria Manager, Gernot Rohr cut his teeth as player and coach for several years, little wonder the German was in Cloud Nine at his unveiling and had already touted him as one of his aces for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations slated for Cameroon.

Since the €30 million departure of Brazilian winger, Malcom to Barcelona this summer, Kalu has been seen as the perfect replacement for him and Gus Poyet’s side are reportedly set to pay a sum of €8 million for the youngster who still has two years left on his current contract at the Ghelamco Arena.

“We inform you that an agreement has been reached, subject to the signature of all administrative documents, with Gent, for the transfer of Samuel Kalu,” the club tweeted.

Kalu, who joined Yves Vanderhaeghe’s side from AS Trencin in 2016, and, alongside Nigerian international Moses Simon, has been one of their main players. Last season, the youngster scored seven league goals in 32 Belgian top-flight appearances.

Rohr said he was monitoring Kalu’s performances at Gent where he struck a good understanding with Nigerian midfielder Moses Simon, but did not pick the player for the 2018 World Cup in Russia because he had good players in his role.

“I never selected him. I saw him play for his team. I took another, which is Simon Moses. He has been in my group since two years ago. He is also a winger, fast. He’s almost the same, but I found him better than Kalu,” the former Gabon manager told Girondins4ever in an interview published on Wednesday.

“We have many fast wingers in Nigeria. There is a plethora of quality attackers. This boy could not join our team. But now, maybe he’s going to cross a course. We’ll follow him.

“Simon was injured, he was the only injured player I had before the World Cup. He missed the World Cup because of a muscle injury. He was replaced by another player, a centre-forward (Simy Nwankwo).”

He added, “Samuel Kalu is a good dribbler, and he’s an overflowing winger. He’s explosive, he gives a lot of good balls. He overflows, he can play on both sides. I hope Bordeaux will have the satisfaction of seeing him evolve with these qualities.”

Reacting over the signing of Kalu by Bordeaux, club president Stephane Martin, revealed to French newspaper Sud Ouest, “He is a player that the recruitment team followed for a while. His choice was validated by Gustavo Poyet.”

Making his eighth appearance in the league, Kalu helped Gent qualify for the Play-Off 1 by netting just after the restart, and his inclusion is particularly not surprising as he has been impressive since his arrival in Belgium.

The Nigerian national team handler is considering having the Girondins new no. 10 in his plans after hinted that Bordeaux new recruit might be handed a call-up ahead of their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying schedules.

Kalu, yet to represent the country at any level moved to Ligue 1 champions after dazzling displays since joining the Ghelamco Arena outfit from AS Trencin in January 2016.

On September 7, the Super Eagles look to get their AfCON 2019 qualifying campaign back on track as they host Seychelles.