Henry Onyekuru Another Loan Spell Looms?


Having been recalled from Galatasaray after the parent club-Monaco failed to agree to a short-term proposal deal that would have enabled Henry Onyekuru to represent the Turkish side for the remainder of the protracted campaign and with the Ligue 1 club still unconvinced by the Nigerian winger, another loan is in the offing for the AFCON bronze medallist

Having failed to establish himself at French side, Monaco, Nigerian international Henry Onyekuru was returned to Galatasaray for a second spell in the January transfer window where he made seven appearances and scored one goal, culminating the Turkish Super Lig to wanting to retain him.

Onyekuru has however returned to Monaco following the expiration of his loan deal with Turkish Super Lig side Galatasaray at the end of last month.

Though Galatasaray wanted the winger to sign a short-term deal to enable him represent the club until the end of the protracted campaign but the French Ligue 1 club turned down the proposal.

According to Turkish newspaper Sabah, Galatasaray have not paid Monaco the 750,000 euros loan fee agreed between the two clubs in the January transfer window and as a result the Nigerian was recalled with five games left to the end of the season.

In 12 outings for Galatasaray, the Super Eagles star scored one goal and provided three assists, logging 871 minutes.

Onyekuru helped The Lions win the Super Lig and Cup in his first spell with the club during the 2018-2019 Season, on loan from Everton.

Meanwhile, Greek Super League giants Olympiakos are working on a deal to sign the Nigerian international. According to Turkish newspaper Milliyet via Fosoline Greece, Olympiakos want to sign the striker from Monaco in the summer transfer window.

Onyekuru experienced some resuscitation at the Turks Telekom Arena after failing to establish himself in France.

Following his exceptional output at Galatasaray last season, where he was an instrumental figure towards propelling the Turkish Giants to a league and cup double, Onyekuru is one player in demand come summer.

Having racked up 16 goals and six assists for Fatih Terim’s Gala while on loan from Everton, who he never played for due to work permit issues, AS Monaco pounced, signing the Nigerian international from the Toffees in a deal worth £12 million.

On the surface, this deal was hugely exciting as Onyekuru looked set to complement Monaco’s fellow attacking weapons like Islam Slimani, Wissam Ben Yedder, Aleksandr Golovin and Jean-Kevin Augustin beautifully. In reality, his time with the Monegasques has been anything but smooth sailing, which is largely through no fault of his own.

Not helped by Monaco’s woeful start to the season, which forced Leonardo Jardim to switch to a back three, this meant there was no natural fit for him in the side, for Slimani and Ben Yedder took the striking roles and wingers were no longer used, just wingbacks.

At his best when playing on the left flank or through the middle, Jardim’s setup has certainly not aided his cause to stake his claim. Obviously needing time to adapt to his new environment and some injury issues didn’t help his cause either, as he’s only featured four times totalling 160 minutes of action.

An exciting player who can hurt opponents in a variety of ways with his explosive, game-changing set of attributes, he’s certainly a nightmare for defenders to come up against.

Blessed with scintillating pace, acceleration and agility, these characteristics ensure he’s such a threat with and without the ball. Firstly, when embarking on his runs, he does so in a thoughtful fashion, as he times, angles and directs his run smartly to get the edge on his adversaries. So quick and aware when a teammate is in a position to pinpoint him, he gets on his bike swiftly to give himself every chance to latch onto through balls first.

The way he uses little hesitation moves, double movements, zig-zags, wicked out-to-in diagonal runs, pins markers and exploits the blindside of his marker adds to his menace.

In addition, when bursting into the box, the way he attacks the six-yard box, knows when to go to the near or far post and has the presence of mind to hold his runs as the defence collapses is a bonus.

Meanwhile, when it comes to his work with the ball at his feet, Onyekuru poses a very unpredictable and elusive proposition. On top of his aforementioned athleticism, his mazy dribbling ensures he can breeze by his man with his sheer pace, cut infield in an instant or beat his man with feints, shoulder drops, stepovers or searing changes of pace and direction.

Moreover, the fact he’s so dangerous on the ball often attracts multiple markers, which has the key byproduct of freeing up space for teammates and destabilising his foes’ shape.

His close control when dribbling at speed notably places doubt in defenders minds, for if they step in he can quickly shift the ball to outfox them or draw a foul, thus making him an even more challenging adversary.

It must be said, however, that he can overdo it sometimes on the dribble, which means he gets cornered or fails to see a teammate in a better position. But all in all, any negatives are outweighed by the big positives attached to his confident and eye-catching work here.

While it’s not really his game to create chances or orchestrate passing moves, there’s been some signs of his aptitude here, as he can combine nicely in around the box, calmly recycle possession and play the odd splitting through ball if the option is there. Probably the most effective tool in this regard is how he plays some slick one-twos which help unlock deep sitting defences while allowing him to receive the return pass in a goal facing posture so he can continue his momentum.

Onyekuru’s finishing complements his intriguing game nicely, for this ever-improving area of his armoury allows him to reward all his good work. Instinctive and with a keen eye for goal, the man who finished sixth in the Turkish Super League scoring charts despite playing predominantly as a winger, can crucially score in a variety of ways.

Onyekuru has four years to run on his contract with Monaco, whom he joined from Everton last summer.

The 22-year-old has capped 11 times for Nigeria and was part of the Super Eagles team that clinched bronze at the last Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.

Onyekuru began his football career with the Aspire Academy in 2010, and graduated in 2015 joining their partner club, KAS Eupen and helped the team get promotion to the Belgium First Division A in his debut season.

After a successful season in the Belgium first division, Onyekuru finished as one of the top scorers in the league, attracting the attention of various big teams in Europe. He finished the 2016/2017 season as joint top-scorer with 22 goals, but the trophy was handed to his rival as he scored more away goals than Onyekuru.

He made his senior debut for Nigeria in a 3-0 friendly win over Togo last year’s July.