Emmanuel Dennis: Continuing Where He Left it

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Emmanuel Dennis Bonaventure

He made the headlines in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League when his two goals stunned Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabue. Emmanuel Dennis seems set to continue where he left it as his goal helped Club Brugge beat Russian league leaders Zenit Saint Petersburg 2-1 away from home

Super Eagles forward Emmanuel Dennis has been quick to get off the mark, scoring the first goal after getting on target in the 63rd minute as his Belgian team Club Brugge stunned Russian league leaders Zenit Saint Petersburg 2-1 away from home.

“I am very happy with this victory,” he said after the Group F clash.

“It’s the first time I have won in the Champions League myself. It was a big team performance tonight.”

He added: “Everybody gives everything all the time, has a lot of energy and we saw that tonight.

“I said that I only score goals against the big teams but that was a joke. I’m there to score goals anyway.

“We need to keep working hard in this group and then anything can happen.” Dennis did not make the big transfer away from Club Brugge as many had expected this past summer and according to Het Laatste Nieuws it was not only because of the huge fee the Belgian champions demanded.

The authoritative newspaper said his inconsistency and attitude could also have stopped him leaving Belgium even after winning two championships with Club Brugge.

“Stade Rennes wanted him. And Atalanta Bergamo once sniffed. But the big clubs kept their distance. Their conclusion: too great a risk,” reported HLN.

“Dennis’ inconsistency was to his disadvantage. His four European goals in the preliminary rounds added up to only five league goals, plus a lot of lackluster performances. His own fault.

“Dennis says he lives for the big competitions. Then he is “twice as motivated”.

“The Nigerian is not enthusiastic about matches against the Mouscrons and Eupens of this world.

“It shouldn’t be too easy for me,” it sounded in the same “farewell interview”.

The report continued: “Team mates also say that Dennis sometimes lets them down. That he leaves the switch to losing possession for what it is. You could get angry with him, but they know his whims in the dressing room by now.

“Dennis is not a bad or mean boy. It’s just black or white with him. (laugh) And if he has no appetite, then he has no desire. ”

“It’s that attitude that Club want to change with Dennis.”

Back in February, a report from Foot Mercato via HITC mentioned Everton among the potential suitors for Dennis, while the Nigerian was also linked with Premier League rivals Southampton and Crystal Palace.

Dennis started his professional career with Ukrainian outfit Zorya Luhansk, where he scored six goals in 26 appearances and also featured in the Europa League group stages for the first time. The versatile forward was then snapped up by Club Brugge in the summer of 2017 and Dennis has gradually established himself as one of the best attacking players in the Belgian top-flight.

The 22-year-old has managed a decent tally of 29 goals and 12 assists in 110 appearances for Brugge in all competitions so far, helping his club win the domestic league in 2017-18.

Dennis has also carved out a reputation for himself on the continental stage, scoring twice in a 2-2 draw against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the Champions League last year before finding the net against Man United in the Europa League.

Dennis had been linked with a move to Everton in the summer and many are of the opinion he would be a quality squad player for Everton.

Everton have enjoyed a sensational start to the 2020-21 Premier League campaign after a summer of heavy spending that marked the arrivals of James Rodriguez, Allan, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Ben Godfrey, Robin Olsen, and Niels Nkounkou.

The Toffees are currently at the top of the table, having won four of their six opening fixtures so far. While it’s too early to pass a definitive judgement, Carlo Ancelotti’s side seem more than capable of challenging for a top-six finish if they manage to maintain the same level of consistency in the coming months.

Striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin has spearheaded Everton’s stellar start to the season with a string of top-notch displays, scoring seven times in six Premier League outings so far. He has been very well supported in the final third by the likes of Rodriguez and Richarlison operating on either flank.

Indeed, those three players hold the key to Everton’s hopes of challenging for a return to Europe. But the Toffees’ depth in the ranks will surely be put to test later on in the campaign when the fixtures start to come thick and fast. Everton need quality alternatives in all departments if they are to go toe-to-toe with the elite clubs in the league.

The likes of Bernard and Alex Iwobi are the only feasible attacking alternatives available at Ancelotti’s disposal following the loan exit of Theo Walcott and Moise Kean. However, neither player has managed to inspire much confidence over the past 12 months. Everton should, therefore, look to cash in on them and bring in some solid back-ups.

Everton going back into the market for Dennis would definitely put an end to their squad depth issues in front of goal. Essentially a centre-forward by trade, the Nigerian international is also versatile enough to operate as a wide forward on either flank, thus potentially offering Ancelotti with quality cover for either of his regular front three. Dennis has backed up his domestic form in Belgium with some top-drawer displays in the European competitions. The 22-year-old still has his best years ahead of him. Working under a charismatic manager like Ancelotti will surely help him make significant improvements to his game.

The Nigerian has less than two years remaining on his current contract at Club Brugge, so the door is pretty much open for Everton to try their luck once again when the transfer window reopens in January.