Kelechi Nwakali scored an absolute screamer on Tuesday night against Atletico Madrid prompting calls from his home country that he goes to the World Cup.
Playing against an Atleti team that had Jan Oblak starting in goal, the young Arsenal midfielder found the back of the net for Nigeria B after just 31 minutes.
He showed great footwork to open space before placing the ball beyond the reach of the keeper who foiled Arsenal so well in the Europa League.
Arsenal midfielder Kelechi Nwakali scoring a long range goal against Atleti in a friendly match with Nigeria. pic.twitter.com/dpMYCHtm6k
— AFCPressWatch (@AFCPressWatch2) May 22, 2018
Arsenal youngster Kelechi Nwakali scores on his first ever appearance for Nigeria. Great footwork and brilliant finish.
— Darren (@DF_Arsenal) May 22, 2018
Nwakali played the full 90 minutes of the game and scorenigeria.com report that “The cameras caught Franco-German coach Rohr nodding in admiration and having an intimate talk with another official with a body language suggesting a consideration for a late inclusion on the provisional team for the youngster.”
They also seemed very impressed with the midfielder’s overall performance, adding, “Nwakali…refused to get swallowed by the big occasion, rising up to it and showing he could be his own master.
“He controlled the midfield almost alone, with his usual swagger, dictating the pace and distributing his trademark passes that stood him out at the U-17 World Cup in Chile three years ago.”
Scorenigeria also report that the 19-year-old will return to Arsenal this summer after two years out on loan which tallies with what was reported back in April.
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 yet.
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. He has been sent on loan again ahead of the 2018-19 season.