Henry Onyekuru confirmed that Arsenal made an offer for his services but it seems as if he’s off to West Ham instead.
So, who is he, why are clubs in the Premier League interested, and who needs him more?
19-year-old Henry Chukwuemeka Onyekuru is a winger for the Belgian side KAS Eupen that competes in the first tier of Belgian football.
After an impressive series of performances, Onyekuru caught the eye of some of the biggest clubs in Europe, and Arsenal stepped in with an offer of just under £7m – enough to trigger his release clause. Work permit issues, however, means that a bid of £7.87m will be required and this is the amount West Ham have reportedly been told to pay.
Onyekuru joined KAS Eupen in 2015 and helped the club secure promotion in his first season. The then-18-year-old Nigerian made 19 appearances and scored six goals with two assists.
Last season, he played more and showed glimpses of his talent, looking very promising.
A talented winger, he played in 41 games across all competitions and scored a remarkable 24 goals with nine assists for his teammates.
Onyekuru’s strongest talent is his ability to dribble and with his incredible pace he often just runs past opposition defenders like they don’t even exist.
He can often be seen running wide down the touchline, breaking past the incoming full back and continuing his run to the edge of penalty box. This is where his instincts kick in.
Onyekuru has the ability to open up enough space to either present a pass for his teammates or to go for goal himself. More often than not, he takes the second option.
He’s quite a selfish player and often looks to finish chances by himself. He will pass if he can’t shake off defenders, but this is an area he needs to work on.
Like I’ve mentioned, dribbling and pace are his main strengths, and the number of goals he’s scored is proof of his finishing ability. He’s adapted to playing on both sides of the pitch, and has even played as a striker.
The youngster is a very composed player and has enough skill and footballing wisdom to pick the perfect moment to take his chance.
With his pace, he often breaks through defences on the counter, chasing the ball deep inside the opposition’s half. These kind of situations often put him one-on-one with the keeper and Onyekuru shows his class every time he gets a chance like that, finishing like a player with significantly more experience.
Another strength is his passing ability and perception of space that puts teammates in on goal. Unfortunately, he doesn’t pass often enough to his teammates who can be better positioned as he looks to score on every possible occasion.
Onyekuru has plenty of skills and pace, but he’s rather weak physically, and if he doesn’t get the chance to run past his opponent, he’s very likely to be dispossessed of the ball.
His selfishness could also be considered a weakness in his game as he’ll need to work on that if he wants to succeed as a player.
Onyekuru has a contract with KAS Eupen until 2020 but it’s most unlikely he’ll stay there much longer.
The release clause in his contract is believed to £6.8 million and this doesn’t represent any real challenge for clubs like Arsenal or West Ham.
He has plenty of work ahead of him as I don’t believe he’s ready for the Premier League just yet. He needs to work on his physical strength as a priority before he finds out what it’s like to be hammered by a Premier League centre-back.
It would be a hard transition from Belgian football to English, but the youngster looks very capable of doing that in the near future.
Given that Onyekuru has said that he will only go somewhere he is guaranteed regular playing time, West Ham would certainly seem to be his best option.
His isn’t a name that will get fans at the Emirates excited, something that’s hardly his fault, but a move to West Ham would seem to be best for all concerned.