Gent young sensation Samuel Kalu deserves a spot on Nigeria’s World Cup roster and it would make sense for Super Eagles manager Gernot Rohr to hand him a call-up to the national team ahead of this summer’s football festival in Russia.
In Nigeria’s last three appearances at the World Cup, the coaches have reserved a special spot for the country’s most promising talent, with Adegboye Onigbinde taking a 17-year-old Bartholomew Ogbeche to the 2002 World Cup, Lars Lagerback named 19-year-old Lukman Haruna on his squadlist for South Africa 2010 and Stephen Keshi opted to include Chelsea’s Kenneth Omeruo, then 20, for the tournament in Brazil.
Kalu is in the same category as the aforementioned players as was recently heralded as Nigeria’s most promising prospect in Europe by CIES Football Observatory.
There were a host of clubs eager to sign the youngster, including CSKA Moscow, before he was acquired by Gent in January 2017 and questions on if he made the right choice have been put to rest thanks to his consistent performances for the Belgian First Division A outfit.
Despite the Belgian League ranked 23 places above the Slovakian Super Liga in the UEFA coefficient rankings, it is remarkable that the 20-year-old did not waste any time before he found his footing at Gent, which proves his quality.
Kalu does not play centrally in attack but has been scoring or creating goals for Gent; he has been directly involved in 24 goals (9 goals, 15 assists) in 45 appearances since his move to Belgium.
Another niche to his game is that he can also play as an attacking midfielder and can be deployed on the left flank.
Nigeria have quality wide options in Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, Ahmed Musa and Moses Simon, but Rohr has to find a space for Samuel Kalu in the team he plans to take to the World Cup.