September 23, 2021

Ahmed Musa: Where now for club-less Super Eagles skipper?

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The last few years have been unkind to the former CSKA Moscow wideman, and his international place certainly now has to be questioned

2016 should have been a seminal point in Ahmed Musa’s career, rather it probably marks the point where he plateaued and ultimately declined.

The wide attacker joined then-Premier League champions Leicester City in a deal that looked good on paper: The Foxes were getting a vivacious forward with an eye for goal. Claudio Ranieri’s defending champions were signing an attacker with European experience for their maiden sojourn on the continent.

It looked good, theoretically, especially as the versatile forward was only 23 at the time and was moving to a club that largely suited his profile and a league in which his qualities could shine through. A friendly encounter with Barcelona — in which the arrival from CSKA netted twice — offered promise but that pre-season game proved to be the forward’s highest point at the club.

Musa’s lack of contribution at the East Midlands outfit led to a return to Moscow temporarily before he headed to Saudi Arabia with Al-Nassr. However, after a two-year stay in Riyadh, the club called time on the forward’s spell at the club in October, leaving him without a club.

Indeed, it’s a comedown for the previously capable wide attacker whose pace and prowess in the final third offered his teams an attacking weapon. Now, at just 28, he finds himself unattached when he should be in his prime years.

Per Fanatik, Turkish giants Galatasaray are said to be interested in the Nigerian’s signature, but a potential move to Turkey puts his Super Eagles future in jeopardy…unless, of course, Gernot Rohr’s partisanship comes to the fore for the umpteenth time.

The German tactician’s attitude to the Super Lig has been evident in his time at the helm, with Henry Onyekuru and, recently, Anthony Nwakaeme not getting a look-in despite their noteworthy forms for Galatasaray and Trabzonspor respectively in the last two years or so.

While the former has failed to kick on since returning to Monaco, the 31-year-old frontman still finds himself out of the international picture despite remaining a key man under Eddie Newton. The loss of Alexander Sorloth has meant Black Sea Storm have lost a significant part of their attack but Nwakaeme’s influence has largely remained, although, it has to be said that the inside forward can’t lead a one-man carry job in Trabzon.

Still, it is a slap on the face of players like Nwakaeme that Rohr still picks Musa over them despite his apparent decline in recent years and move to a less popular league.

Surely, the Saudi Professional League isn’t superior to the Super Lig, unless the experienced tactician knows something many observers aren’t privy to.

The emergence of players like Chidera Ejuke also means Musa has to earn his call-ups and not simply rely on being captain of the side or previous high points in the national team.

October’s international friendlies present a pretty good example of why supporters are exasperated by Rohr. Despite the inclusion of Cyriel Dessers and Ejuke in the squad, the pair played a combined 38 minutes against Tunisia having missed out completely vs Algeria days earlier.

Musa, by contrast, came on for the final 15 minutes against the African champions before getting another 72 minutes of game time in the 1-1 draw vs the Carthage Eagles.

Dessers’ lack of goals for new side Genk has now seen the former Heracles striker dropped from the national team, whereas the 28-year-old retains his place for this month’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers despite not playing in any capacity.

The apparent favouritism has been one of the few misgivings fans of the Super Eagles have had over the years, but Rohr’s closed-minded disposition irrespective of a player’s good form or otherwise has been particularly disappointing.

Of course, Musa has served the Super Eagles well — with World Cup braces vs Argentina in 2014 and Iceland four years later in Russia the peak moments — however, his continued presence in the setup means players like Dessers and Ejuke can’t be empowered to thrive in the side.

Getting continued invites to the Nigeria team if the move to Turkey materialises would be the most blatant disregard for someone like Nwakaeme, who’s deserved a second chance for years after an underwhelming debut against Algeria in 2017.

This will lead to queries over Rohr’s unfair preference with many probably questioning the lack of consistency and double-standard of the German boss.