Emmanuel Amuneke has suggested that former Golden Eaglets and Flying Eagles captain Kelechi Nwakali may have been unduly influenced and lost focus after joining Arsenal following the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup which Nigeria won.
The attacking midfielder was snapped up by then Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger in 2016, but was immediately loaned out to Dutch side MVV Maastricht, and subsequently to VVV Venlo before returning to Maastricht for a second spell at the side in 2018.
The creative midfielder’s struggle at club level continued as he moved to FC Porto B side in 2018, making 16 appearances for the Portuguese side, before joining Spanish side Huesca last summer, helping them to secure promotion to La Liga in the outgone 2019/2020 season.
Despite his celebrated move to Arsenal, the 22-year-old failed to make a single appearance for the London side in an official fixture.
Amuneke, who was Nwakali’s coach at both the Golden Eaglets and Flying Eagles hinted that the player probably didn’t handle his initial successes as well as he should have and allowed himself to be swayed by external influences.
The former African Footballer of the Year, however, told www.busybuddiesng.com that the youngster is bound learn from his failed adventure at Arsenal, describing him as a ‘gifted player’.
“Well, I have said it several times and I keep on saying it, I think Kelechi (Nwakali) is a gifted player with the quality he has,” the 1994 African Footballer of the Year said.
“But of course, after the World Cup, he was signed by Arsenal, which everybody believe with his quality and the style of Arsenal kind of football, he would be able to find a way. But unfortunately, things didn’t work out the way people expected.
“And probably, maybe it is a kind of lesson to him because when success comes, a lot of people come around: those with good intentions, those with bad intentions, everybody come with different ideas. But if you are not able to sit down and analyze things, at the end of the day, it looks as if you’re jumping from one direction to another.”
Nwakali caught the eyes of Nigerian football fans with a stunning strike in his debut and only game yet at senior level for Nigeria as the Super Eagles were beaten 3-2 by Atletico Madrid in Uyo in a friendly match in May, 2018.