Kelechi Nwakali still has his eyes firmly fixed on obtaining a work permit that will allow him to play for Arsenal.
The 20-year-old midfielder was signed from Diamond Academy in 2016 and has been on loan with MVV Maastricht and VVV Venlo before being sent to FC Porto ahead of the new season.
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 at 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.
”If Porto thought I had nothing to add, they wouldn’t have brought me to come to Portugal. So, I hope to get the chance and I believe I can do it; all I need is the chance,” Nwakali told aoifootball.com.
”Coach Amuneke once taught me that every chance you get, you should learn. So, that is it for me here at FC Porto. I came here to add to my knowledge.
”It is a good move for me. It’s the kind of improvement for me to keep developing and that will be until I get my work permit and have a chance to play in England.
”I’m a young footballer still growing and I hope to learn from players at the club.”
Speaking just after his move to Porto was confirmed, Nwakali, whose brother Chidiebere plays for Manchester City’s youngsters, said he hoped this move would help him ‘evolve’ as a player.
“My main goal is to develop and evolve as a player, to improve my qualities and the other aspects that I know I need to correct to grow in the way I play,” he told CompleteSportsNigeria.
“I think FC Porto is the right place to evolve as a player.
“I know Porto very well, because one of my idols in football played here: Deco. He was a player that I loved to watch and I hope one day being able to meet him and tell him the importance he had in my desire to be a football player.”
Nwakali already made an impression at Dutch second division side MVV Maastricht, although his loan with VVV Venlo didn’t go quite so well. He returned to Arsenal and then headed back to MVV Maastricht to get regular game time.
He impressed fans with his quick feet and tight close control that allowed him to glide through midfield. On top of that, he showed an eye for a pass, an ability 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.
He scored seven goals and created five in 52 appearances for MVV Maastricht.