Destiny Udogie: Torn between Azzurri and Super Eagles
After a good season with Udinese, Italian-born Nigerian defender, Destiny Udogie has been attracting interest from big European clubs with Inter Milan, Juventus and Tottenham Hotspur leading the rush. However, sorting out his international loyalty remains a concern for the defender. After playing for Italy at all grade levels, his dream is to star for the Azzurris but Roberto Mancini is yet to look at his side, while Nigeria is opening a hand of fellowship
Despite strong links with the Nigerian senior football team-Super Eagles, 19-year-old Udinese defender, Destiny Udogie has always reiterated his desire to play for the Azzurris, most especially after playing for Italy at all age-grade competitions.
Udogie was born in Italy to Nigerian parents and even though he has represented the European country at youth level, he is still eligible to play for the Super Eagles.
He has always expressed his desire to represent Italy at senior level and is determined to keep working hard in order to achieve his objective in spite of not having been called up.
“I will do everything to make myself appreciated by the coach, it is a goal that I particularly care about,” the youngster told Tuttomercatoweb.
Udogie has been linked to the likes of Juventus, Inter Milan and Tottenham Hotspur after a strong campaign for Udinese.
The former Hellas Verona player admitted he is flattered by the interest from some of the European heavyweights.
“It is very nice to be approached by top-level clubs. “I live it serenely and thinking about the field. My agents think about the market, they know my thoughts and have my total trust,” he said.
Inter Milan have set their sights on Udogie who has been valued by the Friuli at €20 million.
Inter Milan Chairman, Steven Zhang, is believed to have met the player and his representatives last week as they look to make a move.
Some of Udogie’s suitors have also been mentioned as Juventus but the club is unwilling to let him go and hope to keep him for another season.
Udogie had a brilliant season last term and turned on potential suitors to possibility of his availability.
The 20-year-old wing-back is looking to settle his international and club future after he was recently snubbed by the Italian national team coach, Roberto Mancini despite his brilliant season
He’s highly-rated in Italian football.
Udogie has before now said he was looking forward to being a part of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar later in the year, but unfortunately both countries he is eligible to play for-Italy and Nigeria failed to qualify for Mundial in Qatar.
“Going to the World Cup is the greatest dream because it is played for the whole country. For me, it would be a great satisfaction,” Udogie had said.
By the time the last edition of the Mundial kicked off four years ago in Russia, Udogie was still a starry-eyed 15-year-old slugging it out in the Hellas Verona youth academy, unsure of what the future held for him.
Fast forward to the present times, and the 19-year-old has had his best of times in Serie A last season, where he made 29 appearances, scored against AC Milan at the San Siro, and netted the goal that shot down Sampdoria.
Udogie has been a part of the Italian youth system from the U-16 to the U-21, giving the European nation a significant advantage over his allegiance.
But the versatile young defender remains eligible to represent three-time African champions, Nigeria, through his parents.
Super Eagles boast of very good left-back options in Paderborn’s Jamilu Collins, Porto’s Zaidu Sanusi and Rangers’ Calvin Bassey. Still, Udogie could gate-crash the party if he maintains his upward trajectory.
Udogie is the rave of the moment in the Italian top-flight, with some of the country’s biggest clubs keeping a tab on him, including Juventus and Atalanta.
The young defender, however, makes it clear that he shares a relationship with his Nigerian father and still listens to his instructions, which are helping his development.
“My father always tells me to stay calm, to enjoy the moment, to play carefree and not to freak out because I’m still young,” the on-loan Hellas Verona lad said. enjoy Serie A and the moment because I’m still young.
“Now, as a wing-back, I feel good because it is a role in which I can express myself. I think I would feel better as a full-back than a half-winger.”
Udogie has a loan deal with Udinese, with the Little Zebras retaining the rights to make his deal permanent. He is currently valued at €9 million.
After scoring three goals and several assists in the last campaign, Udogie has cemented himself as one of the best revelations of last season.
The young left-back is a youth product of Hellas Verona, but he currently plays for Udinese on loan.
According to Calciomercato, Juventus are in the race to sign Udogie next summer, but will face competition from two other Serie A big boys.
In addition to the Bianconeri, Napoli and Atalanta are also interested in the up-and-coming fullback.
In September 2021, he made his debut for the Azzurri’s U-21 side.
Undoubtedly an interesting talent, the Verona youngster was always bound to attract the interest of some of the bigger names in the league.
But while Juventus are hoping to reinforce their left-back department this summer, the management usually prefer to send the younger players out on loan in order to gain more experience.
Therefore, even if the Bianconeri manage to secure his services, a more experienced player could end up replacing Alex Sandro instead of the young Udogie.
Serie A side Atalanta Bergamasca Calcio are also keen on signing young Italian-Nigerian wing-back when the summer transfer window opens, says Italian transfer news-focused publication, Calcio Mercato.
Udogie enjoyed an excellent maiden season in the Italian top-flight after his breakthrough at the Hellas Verona academy.
Some of the highlights of the youngster’s campaign include netting the equaliser for the Little Zebras in the 1-1 draw against AC Milan at the San Siro and hitting the target in the 2-1 win over Sampdoria.
The Black and Blues are noted for their endless energy and attacking vibe and Super Eagles-eligible Udogie is believed to be a perfect fit for manager Gian Piero Gasperini’s style of play.
Udogie has played for Italy at every level of youth football from the U-16 to the U-21, but he is yet to feature for the senior team, making him eligible for the Super Eagles.