Bright Osayi-Samuel: England Return in Doubt

Bright Osayi-Samuel: England Return in Doubt

Despite being fans’ favourite and his impressive form since joining Fenerbahçe from Queens Park Rangers Bright Osayi-Samuel has never hidden his desire to return to England with the likes of Brentford and Bournemouth waiting in the wings. However, the Super Eagles defender’s wish may not come to pass at least for now as the Super Lig club is looking to extend the Nigerian international’s contract at the ükrü Saracolu Stadium

Bright Osayi-Samuel finds himself at the centre of transfer talks, with Fenerbahçe making significant decisions regarding his future.  According to Italian media, the Süper Lig club is looking to extend the Nigerian international’s contract at the ükrü Saracolu Stadium.

Since his move from Queens Park Rangers during the 2020-21 interim transfer period for €508,000, Osayi-Samuel has garnered praise for his performances at Fenerbahçe.

His success has reportedly caught the attention of several English clubs, notably Brentford, Bournemouth, Everton, Fulham, West Ham United, and a host of other top elite clubs from England.

He has previously expressed his desire to return to England and play in the English Premier League, but all attempts to entice him back to England failed.

Meanwhile, with just one year remaining on his contract, Fenerbahçe has deliberated on securing Osayi-Samuel’s services for the long term.

The club, according to Aksam, plans to extend his contract and elevate his salary to bolster their position in potential transfer negotiations.

The Nigerian right-back has been a key figure for Fenerbahçe this season, appearing in 18 matches and starting 17 of them, scoring twice and assisting three times.

The developments around Osayi-Samuel’s contract renewal and the heightened interest from English clubs indicate a pivotal period in the player’s career as transfer talks intensify.

An assist in Fenerbaçhe’s 4-0 win over Moldovan side Zimbru in the second leg of their Europa Conference League second qualifying round, followed up by another assist in their 5-1 win against Twente, has seen him pick up where he left off and from last season and continue his impressive form for the Turkish giants.

Strong, quick, and athletic, Osayi-Samuel looks like the modern-day full-back/wing-back, but it was not until a year ago that the 25-year-old made his first appearance for the Super Eagles on November 17, playing 90 minutes in a pre-tournament friendly against Portugal who, unlike Nigeria, were then preparing to play in the World Cup.

Nigeria lost 4-0, but Osayi-Samuel was arguably Super Eagles’ strongest performer, holding his own on the right flank and even winning a penalty that could have seen them cut the deficit to one goal, only for Emmanuel Dennis to squander the opportunity from the spot.

Playing in a position that has been occupied by the likes of Abdullahi Shehu, Ola Aina, Tyrone Ebuehi, Kevin Akpoguma in international friendlies and competitive games, he seemed to offer something completely different on the ball, something that Nigeria had been lacking for quite a few years. It was little surprise to see him start at right back in each of their next three AFCON qualifiers, a 1-0 loss and a 1-0 win against Guinea-Bissau as well as a 3-2 win at Sierra Leone, and it looks like he will challenge Nottingham Forest’s new signing Ola Aina for the starting position in Jose Peseiro’s defense for next year’s AFCON in the Ivory Coast.

There’s no gainsaying that as a right-back, Osayi-Samuel has got a lot in his arsenal, and these footballing abilities are no surprise to those who had watched and followed his career trajectory from his time at Blackpool and Queens Park Rangers.

The Nigeria international started his career as a pure winger who delighted in taking on his markers with his pace, trickery, and guile, little wonder his style of play as a full-back is quite reminiscent of Victor Moses in Antonio Conte’s 2016/17 English Premier League-winning squad. 

Born in Okija, Nigeria, Osayi-Samuel moved to Spain at an early age before emigrating to England at 10 years of age. A product of the Blackpool academy, he broke into the first team as a teenager in 2015, playing primarily as a winger across League One, League Two and very briefly in the championship before securing a move to Championship mainstays Queen Park Rangers in September 2017.  Osayi-Samuel’s ability to dribble, create and pose a threat to opposition defences was never in doubt but the numbers have hardly been really outstanding in terms of goals and assists for the Fenerbaçhe man.

37 goals and assists in 194 appearances across the lower divisions of English football may have looked more average than world-class but it was his potential that had most likely attracted Fenerbaçhe to him as he switched to the Turkish giants in the second half of the 2020/21 season and it was just a goal and an assist to his name in a total of 19 appearances before the end of that season. 

His first full season was also not very remarkable as he was only able to manage two goals and five assists in 43 appearances across all competitions. Though, the arrival of Portuguese manager, Vítor Pereira at Fenerbaçhe in the summer of 2021 occasioned a formation change to a  3-4-3 for the Turkish club with Osayi-Samuel being one of those affected by this tweak as he was made to be the right wing-back in Pereira’s new set-up. 

“That’s not usually my position, I’ve been an out-and-out winger. He wanted me to come back as a full-back when we didn’t have the ball. He started teaching me the basics of defending, and from there I started playing as a wing-back,” Osayi-Samuel said in an interview. 

The 25-year-old continued being a wing-back/full-back from then on, and following a decent 2022/23 season where he established himself as a key player for Fenerbaçhe. 

According to statistics obtained from the player’s Europa League campaign last season, Osayi-Samuel averaged 83% for progressive carries and an 88% pass completion while also demonstrating his dexterity in 1v1 situations with an 89% success in take-ons. Obviously, the major thing lacking from his game has always been that bit of end product on a more consistent basis and it is something that can definitely improve.

Defensively, Osayi-Samuel may still be suspect in some areas and that is no surprise at all given that he had played the most part of his formative years as an attacker. The right-back is not usually exceptional when contesting aerial duels which is quite expected from a player of his height (5ft, 11inches), 61% was what he averaged in the Europa League last season while also averaging 59% for interceptions but his tackling is not as bad or so average as he came out strong in 74% of his tackles.

There is no doubt that Osayi-Samuel possesses the kind of talent that interests the lovers of the game and earlier this summer, there were rumours linking the Blackpool academy graduate with a move away from Turkey, but instead, he has remained put in Istanbul, and he looks set to play a key role in defense for a Fener side that has enjoyed a strong start to life under İsmail Kartal.

After finishing second, eight points behind Galatasaray, Fener have bolstered their squad with the likes of Edin Džeko, Dominik Livaković, Fred, Dušan Tadić, Ryan Kent, Rodrigo Becão, Alexander Dijku, and Cengiz Ünder, and they will be looking to knock Gala off their perch and end a decade-long title drought. Whilst they have signed Turkish right back Mert Müldür in the increasingly likely event that he ships off for AFCON in January, they’ll be counting on Osayi-Samuel, who, with a contract until 2025, could be set for one last magical hurrah for the Yellow Canaries.

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