Super Eagles strikers Iheanacho, Nwankwo dominate Nigeria Power Rankings

What a month April was for Nigerian players - especially strikers - in Europe. Picking the players for the monthly Power Rankings was easy, but putting them in order was another matter altogether.

Kelechi Iheanacho can't seem to stop scoring, Simy Nwankwo has shattered two Nigerian scoring records in Europe and Italy while Terem Moffi is on the cusp of breaking another, and Samuel Chukwueze is lighting up La Liga from the flank.

1. Simy Nwankwo - Crotone

Someone needs to remind Simy Nwankwo that he is playing for a team stuck at the bottom of Serie A, because to score six goals in five games, including two braces, is not what is expected of a forward playing for a side guaranteed to drop.

In 2021, he has scored 15 league goals. By comparison, Cristiano Rinaldo has 13. Not only is he scoring with reckless abandon, in doing so, he has also surpassed two longstanding scoring records held by Nigerians in a top five European league.

The first belonged to Yakubu Ayegbeni, whose haul of 17 goals for Blackburn Rovers in the 2011/2012 season had stood until Nwankwo hit his 19 this past month. The other was held by Obafemi Martins, whose 28 goals was the most by a Nigerian player in the Italian top flight. Two goals in the 4-3 win over Parma took Nwankwo to 29 goals, and a place in the history books.

2. Terem Moffi - Lorient

After going two months and eight games without a goal, Terem Moffi got back among the goals with a vengeance in April.

Like Nwankwo, the 21-year-old is another one who appears to need reminding that he is playing for a team at the wrong end of the table.

Moffi exploded for six goals and one assist in four Ligue 1 games during the month of April. He opened with an assist in Lorient's 1-0 win over Brest, then scored one against Lens, two against Olympic Marseille, and then a hat-trick against Bordeaux.

3. Kelechi Iheanacho - Leicester City

In any other month, Kelechi Iheanacho would have easily kept hold of his number one spot from last month. But the competition this month is totally off the charts, so scoring five in five was only enough for bronze.

Iheanacho's form has been nothing short of stupendous. He is scoring goals, creating goals, and capping it all by seeing his team win and claiming man of the match honours.

It was his strike that took shot Leicester to the FA Cup Final, where he could well be decisive again if they are to add the Cup to the Premier League title they won a few years ago.

His sizzling performance against Crystal Palace, highlighted by an assist and bookmarked by a stunning goal from inside two defenders, earned him man of the match honours.

4. Paul Onuachu - Genk

In April, Onuachu reached 33 goals for the season, 29 of those in league play. Four of those strikes came in five games during the month of April.

And in the one game where he failed to score, he was on hand to provide an assist for Theo Bongonda to score the winner and shoot Genk to the Belgian Cup title.

Just before that Cup final, he helped himself to two goals in a 3-2 defeat at Antwerp. His first was a typical poacher's goal, tapping in from close range. But the second showed how deceptively quick he could be for a man of his size and gait, as he beat two defenders and the goalkeeper to a through ball before being clipped for a penalty kick which he unerringly despatched.

5. Samuel Chukwueze - Villarreal

You know you've had a great month when you're nominated for Player of the Month award. You know you've had an awesome month when you're nominated for Player of the month alongside Leo Messi.

The wide forward had a barnstorming month, scoring three goals in eight games, including one against Barcelona.

He capped off the month with an assist and man of the match display in Villareal's 2-1 win over Arsenal in the first leg of the Europa League semifinal.

6. Victor Osimhen - Napoli

What a relief it must be for Nigerians to see Victor Osimhen scoring goals again. And not just scoring but being his normal chaos-creating self in and around the area.

Four goals in six games for the Champions League-chasing Napoli in April, even when he is not playing the full 90 minutes, is bound to be a source fo joy not just for Gennaro Gattuso, but also for Gernot Rohr. That is one goal more than he managed in his previous 13 appearances.

The pick of the lot has got to be the last one, in Napoli's 2-0 win at Torino when he ran into space in the middle, shook off the annoying attentions of one defender, and planted an unstoppably vicious strike into the corner.

7. William Troost-Ekong - Watford

When he made the move to Watford from Udinese, there were many who questioned his decision to take a 'step down' in his career. But over the course of the season, William Troost-Ekong has shown that he made the right call.

April was the month when all of the hard work of the previous months came to fruition, as Watford secured their ticket to the Premier League.

That ticket came on the back of two massive games, in which the Nigeria defender played equally outstanding roles to secure two wins, the first against runaway league winners Norwich away from home, and the second against Millwall in the game that sealed the deal.

Ismaila Sarr converted an early penalty for Watford, and the Hornets spent the rest of the game in an heroic defensive effort to claim the points that secured their promotion.

Troost-Ekong, of course, was at the heart of those defensive efforts. On one occasion in the first half, he made a headed clearance from a free kick, then closed down the opposition when the ball came back and finally put his body in the way to direct Mason Bennet's shot out to touch.

8. Wilfred Ndidi - Leicester City

If Iheanacho is shooting Leicester City to heights they barely dreamed of, Wilfred Ndidi is quietly providing the foundations for those outstanding performances.

While his compatriot claims all the accolades for his goalscoring, Ndidi continues to rack up league-leading numbers in tackles, interceptions, and recoveries.

In a month where forwards and their goals have hogged the headlines, Ndidi's calmly assured but uncompromising defensive presence is helping to drive the Foxes to a Champions League place and FA Cup glory.

9. Kelechi Nwakali - Alcorcon

Finally, it appears that Nwakali is finding his feet at a club that trusts him with playing minutes, and the results have been remarkable.

The midfielder, whose outrageous talents have seen him installed as perhaps Nigeria's next big creative midfield find, has struggled to make his mark at previous clubs.

But with Alcorcon, he is enjoying a fine run of games and the outcome has been a very productive April where he scored three goals in four games, including the sort of spectacular free kick that Nigerian fans have known he is capable of. 

10. Anayo Iwuala - Enyimba

Since making his international debut for Nigeria, Anayo Iwuala has attracted plenty of attention from home and abroad.

But none of that has affected the 22-year-old, who has been the focal point of Enyimba's push for advancement in the CAF Confederation Cup, despite getting the lumps kicked out of him in almost every game.

He brought all of his impressive talents to bear in the final group game against Orlando Pirates, with Enyimba needing a win to advance. It was his individual brilliance, latching onto a ball, driving wide and then delivering a low, hard cross that set up Cyril Olisema for the lone decisive goal five minutes into stoppage time, when all hopes seemed lost.