Paul Onuachu

Like many African professional footballers, the journey is often a long, arduous one to reach the top. Challenges and prejudices faced are just a portion of the price to pay and what it takes to make it in a top-flight division.

Much of the same can be said of Paul Onuachu who has slowly proved himself at all levels and finally peaked in the 2020/21 season.

Onuachu joined KRC Genk in August 2019 after seven goal-laden years at Danish Superliga outfit, Midtjylland.

He was the Goal King of Belgium last season with 35 goals in all competitions, yet he has not made the big summer move to a major league club as widely expected. Onuachu himself wants to make the big transfer after a record-breaking season because it is the biggest chance he has to play in Europe’s Top Five Leagues.

Betway Nigeria

Having won the Golden Boot with 29 goals in 33 League games, he was named Belgian League Player of The Season and the Best African player in the division. Onuachu’s heroics helped The Smurfs earn a Champions League berth and win the Belgian Cup.

The Nigeria international is an adept finisher, averaging a goal almost every 90 minutes despite not having plenty of chances in a game. Onuachu averages around three shots per 90, with a conversion rate of 28.9%.

Onuachu is lethal in the area and possesses smart movement to create space for himself in the box, he is also physical enough to overpower defenders. 45 goals in 69 games over two seasons with Genk suggest he is ready for a step up to the next level.

The West African has been duly tipped to leave the Luminus Arena, with several European clubs reported to be interested in signing him. Furthermore, the 27-year-old is available for what could be an absolute bargain of around £20 million for the target man.

So why, then, has no suitable club made a serious offer for Onuachu?

England move

Arsenal, Brighton, and Watford have been linked to the clinical forward this summer but West Ham are perhaps the strongest candidates.

David Moyes is in a desperate search for the perfect striker to compete with and provide cover for Michail Antonio and has been linked with several frontmen this summer.

Step forward the 13-capped Nigeria international who is an absolute giant at 6ft 7in tall, Onuachu is undoubtedly a menace in the air. That aerial ability suits West Ham’s style of play to a tee considering the onus Moyes places on set-pieces.

The London Stadium side were the most deadly in the Premier League from set-pieces last season, and the addition of Onuachu will be a perfect swoop.

The tree-like presence averages eight aerial duels per 90, although he surprisingly only has a 55.4% success rate. However, this suggests that he loves competing for aerial balls and is not afraid to get physical – a trait that will surely please Moyes. 

It’s dizzying to imagine the number of deliveries into the box from Aaron Cresswell and Vladimír Coufal that the giant would thrive off.

Paul Onuachu

Moyes has famously got the best out of his shrewd signings since returning to West Ham, and Onuachu seems the ideal candidate to take them forward after securing their highest-ever points haul in the Premier League. Crucially, the Nigeria International embodies the humility and hard work of the Hammers under the Scot.

A Move Sideways

Lyon are also in the market for a proven goalscorer after Memphis Depay left to join Catalan giants Barcelona as a free agent.

Les Gones have the pedigree but the striker must consider if the strength of the French League is where he wishes to test himself or a higher level. Whilst leaving a Champions League-level side for another who are one of the handful capable of competing against PSG for the domestic title must also be gauged.

The battering ram striker would want to push himself to see how far he can go at the peak of his powers, but a move to Lyon is perhaps more of a sideways trajectory than a necessary upward career move.  

Onuachu must also consider his hunger for trophies as well as the team’s style of play as he competes with Africa’s most expensive player for a starting spot in the national team.

A surprise stay at the Luminus Arena

Paul Onuachu

Although he is widely expected to leave for pastures new, the huge possibility of him staying on with the Blue-Whites remains. 

Due to the pandemic-ravaged impact on the finances of football, several clubs are coy on making a move for Onuachu as there have been no official bids so far. Genk manager John van den Brom expressed his desire to keep the lethal striker.

“I hope that on 1 September we will still be without [Onuachu’s] departure,” he told Voetbalnieuws.

“It would be very nice if we could keep this core together. It is not certain that [Jhon] Lucumi and Onuachu will definitely leave, but for now, they are still with Genk.

“It is the two players that we have said there is a chance that they will leave. However, that does not mean that they leave the club anyway.”

Signing Onuachu for £20 million would certainly be a risk for any buyer. Whilst he would be a very effective option against sides that sit back in a deep block, it is a lot of money to spend on someone reaching the peak of their career having never played in a top-five league. 

However, the Super Eagle needs a manager that would trust him and a team tailored to create service to the big frontman. 

West Ham look like the most suitable candidates, and given how the summer has so far panned out, Onuachu would otherwise be better served trying to stake a huge claim in familiar surroundings in 2021/22 rather than making a pressured move elsewhere. 


Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin

Chief Editor of the Football Castle, Bolu Alabi-Hundeyin is a football junkie and writer of the beautiful game.

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