5 Nigerian Players Who Suffered Relegation In 2023/24 Euro Leagues

Some Nigerian players had the best of campaigns during the 2023/24 football season in Europe as their clubs won their respective league titles, FA Cups, and even European trophies. Other Nigerian players, however, failed to save their clubs from relegation....Read The Full Story Here ▶

Complete Sports hereby takes a look at Nigerian players who suffered relegation in 2023/24 football season in Europe…

Kelechi Nwakali (GD Chaves, Portugal)

Super Eagles midfielder Kelechi Nwakali could not help GD Chaves achieve their ambition of remaining in the Portuguese Primeira Liga as they suffered relegation to Liga Portugal 2.

Nwakali scored for the first time in 19 months on April 27, but it turned out to be a mere consolation as Chaves lost 3-1 to Casa Pia AC in the Portuguese Primeira Liga encounter.

He made the starting line-up against Casa Pia and made it count by scoring the equalizer for Chaves to make the score 1-1 in the 65th minute at the Estadio Municipal de Rio Maior.

It was a brilliant strike by Nwakali, who, after receiving a pass from Ruben Ribeiro on the edge of the box, went on to unleash a bullet from 35 yards that flew into the top corner.

For the Nigerian international midfielder, who came off for Jo Batista in the 80th minute, it was his first goal since joining Chaves in July 2023 and it came in his 31st game for them.

The goal also marked his first in 19 months, having last scored on September 11, 2022, during Ponferradina’s 2-1 home defeat against Real Zaragoza in a Spanish second-division tie.

Although the former Arsenal midfielder found it very difficult to hit the back of the net regularly for Chaves, he contributed four assists in the Primeira Liga this campaign.

Nwakali was, however, in trouble following disciplinary charges raised against him by Chaves. Chaves faced a double blow recently as they suffered a loss confirming their relegation from Liga Portugal Betclic.

They also found themselves grappling with off-field issues involving one of their players, Nwakali, who was caught using his phone on the substitute bench during a 1-0 home defeat to FC Famalicão on May 10.

The 25-year-old was replaced at 46 minutes by Ricardo Martins Guimarães and was pictured fondling his mobile phone on the bench, seemingly unperturbed as his team strove to overcome the deficit via Gustavo Sá’s late first-half goal.

The Portuguese club finished last on the league table with 23 points from 34 games. As things stand, the Nigerian could be on the lookout for another club in the summer transfer window.

Chukwubuikem Ikwuemesi & Simy Nwankwo (Salernitana, Italy)

Two Nigerian players, Chukwubuikem Ikwuemesi and Simeon Nwankwo – known as Simy – will play in Serie B next season after Salernitana failed to escape relegation in 2023/24.

Salernitana’s fate in Serie A was sealed after a disappointing 3-0 loss to Frosinone at the Stadio Benito Stirpe on April 26, marking their descent to the second division.

Simy nevertheless ended the 2023/24 Serie A campaign on a personal high with two goals from the substitutes’ bench as relegated Salernitana shared the spoils away at AC Milan.

Salernitana played out a 3-3 draw with Milan in an exciting Serie A outing at the San Siro on Saturday, with Rafael Leao opening the scoring in the 22nd minute.

Olivier Giroud made it 2-0 five minutes later from Alessandro Florenzi’s assist. Theo Hernandez had a goal canceled on 38 minutes which could have extended Milan’s lead to 3-0.

Salernitana fought back in the second half as Simy, after replacing Grigoris Kastanos in the 60th minute, reduced the deficit to 2-1 in the 64th minute, assisted by Junior Sambia.

Milan appeared to secure the win when Davide Calabria scored in the 77th minute, assisted by Christian Pulisic, to make it 3-1, but Salernitana mounted a dramatic comeback to draw.

Sambia scored in the 87th minute to make it 3-2 and Simy equalized in the 89th minute to ensure Salernitana claimed an unexpected point from the game, but they are now in Serie B.

Meanwhile, since joining Salernitana in the winter transfer window of 2022, the 31-year-old has scored four goals and made three assists in 37 overall games for the club.

Chukwubuikem Ikwuemesi did not play for Salernitana against Milan as a result of a muscle injury, but the striker bagged three goals and two assists in 27 appearances for the club.

Innocent Bonke (Lorient, France)

Nigerian international midfielder Innocent Bonke is one of the Nigerian players who failed with their clubs in the European top leagues. Bonke suffered relegation with FC Lorient in the 2023/24 football season as the club failed to retain its status in the French Ligue 1.

Despite almost pulling off a great escape, Lorient’s relegation to Ligue 2 was confirmed on the final day of the season, despite a 5-0 win over Clermont Foot at the Stade du Moustoir.

Bonke was, however, not involved in many of their Ligue 1 matches in 2023/24, making four appearances overall and playing for a total of just 211 minutes as a result of injury.

The 28-year-old was selected in the starting line-up in three of these appearances across Lorient’s 34 French top-flight fixtures and entered as a substitute on one occasion.

The last time that Bonke featured for Lorient in the league was December 20, 2023, against Brest, a match that he played 38 minutes in during a 4-0 defeat. He was shown a yellow card once.

Meanwhile, it is expected to be a busy summer at Lorient, who are expecting to see interest in many of their players, with local rivals FC Nantes notably showing interest in many of their assets.

Gabriel Osho (Luton Town, England)

Gabriel Osho is back in the Sky Bet Championship after the Super Eagles invitee could not keep Luton Town in the Premier League as they lost the relegation battle to Nottingham Forest.

Rob Edwards’ side, alongside Burnley and Sheffield United, will make their return to the EFL Championship next season, but Osho tried his best and gave a good account of himself last term.

Osho is the Nigerian players with impressive performance despite their clubs’ poor league fortunes in the 2023/2024 season. He made the highest number of clearances in the Premier League during the 2023/24 football season, with the defender making as many as 88 for Luton Town.

Luton are keen on retaining the services of Osho and have opened talks with the player over a contract extension. The highly-rated central defender joined Luton in November 2020 after spending a decade at Reading.

Osho made 21 Premier League appearances and scored against Arsenal and Newcastle United. His form did not go unnoticed, and in March 2024, he received his first call-up to the Nigerian national team.

That was ahead of a pair of international friendlies against fellow West African nations, Ghana and Mali, but he pulled out of the squad due to a knee injury he suffered against Crystal Palace.

The 25-year-old has impressed since he arrived at the club, scoring four goals in 71 league appearances for the Hatters, but there will certainly be interest in him from other Premier League clubs.

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