Kelechi Nwakali is in no rush to force himself into the Nigeria national team and is prepared to wait for his chance, making sure he’s ready to take it when it arrives.
Nwakali was initially sent to VVV Venlo on loan at the start of the season but he opted to re-join MVV Maastricht in January.
At Venlo for six months, he was offered an extension but said ‘no’. Initial reports claimed Arsenal were cancelling his loan move, but that wasn’t entirely accurate.
“Kelechi was on loan at Venlo from Arsenal. It was a six-month loan and when the six months ran out, Kelechi had to move,” his representative, Emeka Amairiaku said.
“He had opportunity to extend his Venlo stay for yet another six months but he said no
“He had been at Maastricht before so he knows the club, the environment”.
It might be a while before we see him in an Arsenal shirt due to work permit problems, but Nwakali will be one worth waiting for. He is expected to return to Arsenal this summer when the club will attempt, once again, to secure a permit for him ahead of the new season.
“I’m happy with my progress thus far even though it might be slow. I will continue to work hard and wait for my time in the Nigeria national team,” he told CompleteSportsNigeria.com.
“The guys in Super Eagles deserve their place in the team and are doing extremely well. All I need to do is keep working hard and wait for my time. I am not in a hurry to play for Super Eagles.
“I strongly believe my time will surely come because I still have long years ahead of me as a player. I am impressed with what coach Rohr have been saying about me; that should give me the right push to step up my game to reach my potential.
“I’m happy at Maastricht at the moment most especially now that the club has qualified for the play-offs,” Nwakali added. “We will keep working hard until our promotion dream comes to reality.”
— AFC Loan Watch (@AFCLoanWatch) March 10, 2018
Nwakali signed for Arsenal from Nigeria’s Diamond Academy in August 2016, and has been on loan ever since.
Arsenal spotted Nwakali at the 2015 u17 World Cup in Chile. Playing in midfield, he captained his side to the final, where they defeated Mali 2-0. He scored three goals throughout the tournament, and was awarded the Golden Ball.
The achievement doesn’t seem like much on paper, but it’s an honour that’s been won by the likes Toni Kroos and Cesc Fabregas in the past.
He’s certainly made an impression at Dutch second division side, MVV Maastricht. Nwakali spent last season on loan there and made 29 appearances, impressing fans with his quick feet and tight close control that allowed him to glide through midfield. He has also shown an eye for a pass, and is able to switch play as well as thread passes through defences.
The technical level of his game is already very high, and only needs to be tempered by more experience on the pitch.
In relation to his work permit, his brother, Chidiebere, who belongs to Manchester City, was recently granted one to play for Aberdeen, giving hope that Kelechi could get one this summer. Kelechi’s older brother (by two years) only has one more cap at u17 level for his country but the younger sibling has scored more goals. Neither have a senior cap.
A player must have featured in 75% of his country’s competitive fixtures to obtain a British work permit if they hail from outside the EEA. Otherwise, an appeals panel must make a ruling and the Gunners have run into difficulties with them previously .
Takuma Asano was the most recent player to be denied a permit despite being a full Japan international since 2015.