Eberechi Eze: Can He Replicate Championship Form on the Big Stage?

Eberechi Eze

It was never in doubt that he would be dumping Queens Park Rangers at the end of the season after a scintillating performance; his next destination, however, was the question, after he had been linked to several Premier League sides. From Tottenham Hotspur to West Ham United and to Arsenal, he was never short of suitors, and, speculations were rife as to where Eberechi Eze would don the colours in the new season. At the end of the day, it was Crystal Palace that won the heart of the beautiful bride. Whether he can re-enact his Championship performance at a higher league however, remains the awaited expectation. Meanwhile, with countries now warming up for international football, his international allegiance has to be sorted out fast to forestall any distraction

A fter series of speculations as to his next destination, England-born Nigerian and Queens Park Rangers forward, Eberechi Eze will be dumping Loftus Road for Selhurst Park after Crystal Palace agreed to a £16m fee with QPR for Eze in a deal that could rise to £20m.

The additional £4m is seen as ‘achievable’ add-ons, with QPR also having a 20 per cent sell-on clause built into the agreement.

Eze, who scored 14 goals in 46 appearances in the Sky Bet Championship for QPR last season, has jetted to Palace for a medicals where he is also expected to finalise personal terms.

The 22-year-old was left out of QPR’s squad last Saturday’s friendly with AFC Wimbledon, with the club keen to avoid putting him in an awkward position amid Premier League interest.

While Palace have struck a deal with QPR, Fulham, West Ham and Newcastle have all also expressed interest in signing Eze.

Speaking to Sky Sports News after last Saturday’s 3-0 win at Loftus Road, manager Mark Warburton indicated Eze would only leave QPR if the club’s valuation was met.

“Any situation for any player is resolved when the value of a player is met, that’s how you resolve a situation,” Warburton said.

“You make sure the value is appropriate, the value is correct, and when that value is met we wish everyone the best of luck going forward. That’s the way it is at QPR. Right now if it is not reached, then he’s a QPR player. As long as we pay the wages, he’s one of ours.”

Eze is an important player for QPR – in a number of ways. Not only is he without question their most talented individual, he also signifies the results of the change in business philosophy at the West London club. No longer do they hemorrhage money on big names, they have put in place an environment for young talents to flourish.

Eze, snapped up for nothing from Millwall is a devastating ball-carrier, possessing a glide with the ball that only a unique talent can boast. This season he has added work-rate and tactical awareness to his game without the ball, which has triggered significant interest from the Premier League.

The 22-year-old joined the Championship side from Millwall in 2016 and has played over 110 games for the Hoops in the Championship.
Eze made 112 appearances for QPR, scoring 20 goals and providing 13 assists for the club in four seasons.

The player has just one year remaining on his current deal at QPR and could leave on a free transfer next season.

He is an exciting young player, who can play in different positions and execute various roles on the pitch. Eze has predominantly played as an attack-minded midfielder, either in central midfield or as an attacking midfielder.

In the 2019-20 season, he also played as a winger, on the left side, and a few times on the right flank as well.

He is a fearless attacker who likes to take on defences with his confident dribbling from the midfield area. The right-footed player is a technically gifted operator who has loads of flair and can beat opposition players in one-on-one situations. In the 2019-20 Championship season, he averaged three successful dribbling attempts per game.

Eze also likes to play quick, short passes and move the ball forward, which adds more variety to his approach play, something modern wingers fail to show in abundance.

He is also capable of playing long balls to catch the opposition out, averaging 1.7 long balls per game in the last season. The England U-21 international is a gifted player who could light up the Premier League in a year or two. Palace would benefit hugely from a supreme talent like Eze, as they lacked a cutting edge in attack last season.

There is also, a slim possibility that he might be considered a long-term replacement for Wilfried Zaha if the Ivorian decides to leave the club ahead of the 2020-21 season. Although his natural position is in the middle, he did an excellent job out wide on the left, which is where Zaha played last season as well. If Zaha stays, Eze could be accommodated in an advanced midfield role, as part of the three-man midfield that manager Roy Hodgson deploys.

With his transfer now sorted out, Eze’s international allegiance is another thing he should try and put behind him fast so as not to act as a distraction to his club football.

Eze has been named in the England U-21 squad for their UEFA European Championship qualifiers against Kosovo and Austria today, but he still qualifies to play for Nigeria as he is yet to feature for England in a competitive game at senior level.

Back in 2017, Eze trained with the Super Eagles while the team was in London, an experience he says he enjoyed it.

But he insists he doesn’t want to rush into a decision as he weighs up more playing time with Nigeria or potential European success with England.
“I’m very happy to be part of England’s youth setup right now, but I enjoyed training with Nigeria,” Eze once said.

Even the President of the Nigerian Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, has never hidden his admiration for the former QPR midfielder, with the NFF boss expressing his desire to see Eze form an integral part of Nigeria’s World Cup campaign in Qatar in 2022.

Indeed, Super Eagles Manager, Gernot Rohr had made approaches to the Anglo-Nigerian-born midfielder, who is seen as the long-sought successor to Austine Jay Jay Okocha if he eventually chooses to star for Nigeria.

“We have approached him, but not directly. Tunde Adelakun, my assistant, spoke to his mum. What we understand is that there is a lot of pressure on him and Ebere Eze doesn’t want to give an answer now. Obviously, we would love to have him in the Super Eagles, of course! We continue to work on getting him. It may take some time,” Rohr had said.