Kelechi Nwakali: In the Eye of the Storm
For what was seen as injustice meted on Super Eagles’ forward Kelechi Nwakali after illness made him retun late from the recently concluded 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon culminating in his Spanish club- Huesca suspending him indefinitely and banishing him from training. The Spanish Players’ Union have however risen in support of the Nigerian, accusing Huesca of committing procedural breaches in the handling of their case
Nigerian international, Kelechi Nwakali is in the midst of a dispute with his club, Huesca after returning home late from the African Cup of Nations through illness as per Football Espana’s sources.
The 23-year-old midfielder joined the Spanish club back in 2019 from Arsenal, whom he had joined in 2016 from the Diamond Football Academy back home in Nigeria. He’s since made 33 appearances for Huesca and also spent time on loan at Alcorcon.
Kelechi missed Nigeria’s final game of the African Cup of Nations through illness and was too ill to fly home to Spain. The doctor that treated him advised him not to fly and to keep testing until his symptoms cleared. Kelechi notified Huesca about this.
On deadline day of the January window Ruben Garcia, Huesca’s sporting director, tried to send Kelechi out on loan for a fee of €8m and said he wouldn’t pay the player if he didn’t find a new club. No club was willing to pay the loan fee Huesca demanded, despite interest from second-tier clubs in both Spain and England.
Kelechi has since returned to Spain and Huesca have opened up disciplinary proceedings against him, suspending him indefinitely and not allowing him to come to the training ground despite the fact he provided a doctor’s note explaining his lateness.
Kelechi was offered a renewal at the beginning of this season but decided against accepting due to his poor relationship with the powers-that-be at the club. Huesca, however, were keen for him to renew and now want to sack him to avoid paying him for the rest of the season. He’s currently not being played by the club.
The Spanish Players’ Union is now involved in the case and they’ve accused Huesca of committing procedural breaches in the opening up of the case against Kelechi. They claim the club have no grounds to sack him and their behaviour constitutes gross misconduct and discrimination against the player.
Nwakali claimed he missed Nigeria’s second round clash against Tunisia at the AFCON due to illness and also stated that the doctor who treated him advised him not to fly and to keep testing until his symptoms cleared.
The club have also stopped the midfielder from coming to the training ground.
The players’ union claimed the player notified Huesca about the development.
Kelechi is the subject of interest from several La Liga sides including Espanyol, Granada, Rayo Vallecano, Mallorca, Osasuna, Elche, Deportivo Alaves and Getafe. He’s also being monitored by several clubs in the Premier League and the Championship.
In his short career, Nwakali spent time with MVV Maastricht (twice), VVV Venlo and FC Porto B. He has racked up a total of 80 career appearances so far. But his future at Arsenal looks bleak.
Born on June 5, 1998, Nwakali started his career at the Diamond Football Academy and after his performances at 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup, in which he won the Golden Ball Award.
Nwakali would jump at another chance to return to England and impress after failing to make his mark at Arsenal during a three-year stay.
Nwakali moved to Huesca but failed to secure a regular first-team spot before he went on loan to Alcorcon, where he showed his quality once again.
His performances in the Segunda Division caught the attention of English side, Leeds United, who are badly in need of another central midfielder this summer.
SD Huesca were delighted with the progress made by the Nigerian youngster during his loan spell at Alcorcón and fend off interest shown in the versatile midfielder by offering him a new contract.
Nwakali would not have wasted time to sign on the dotted line if The Azulgranas were not demoted to the second-tier at the end of last season.
The 23-year-old has ambitions to represent the Super Eagles at this year’s World Cup and is aware that he must be playing for a top-flight European club to be considered for selection.
“It is always an honour to wear the green of Nigeria and it is my dream to continue to do so. I am hugely proud to have represented Nigeria at various levels and i’m grateful to have had these opportunities in my career thus far.”
Nwakali departed Arsenal in the summer of 2019 without playing a single game for the first team because he couldn’t sort out his papers.
Nwakali is in his last year of his contract with the Spanish second division side.
Nwakali famously led Nigeria’s U-17 team, the Golden Eaglets, to their age-group World Cup title in 2015 and won the Golden Ball for the tournament’s best player.