The invitation of former Arsenal youth prospect Semi Ajayi to the senior national team of Nigeria has dominated discussions in recent days owing to the fact that the 24 year old is still viewed by many as an unproven talent.
His struggles at club level which includes his failure to break into the main squad of Arsenal, where he spent two seasons was sharply followed by failed stints at Cardiff City, AFC Wimbledon and also Crewe Alexandra.
However since moving to Rotherham United last year, initially on loan before making the move permanent, he has enjoyed a new lease of life as a defensive midfielder and not the central defence role he played till the age of 23.
Since his conversion to a defensive midfielder he has grown in leaps and bounds and last weekend he earned praises for his near faultless display in their 1-0 win against Millwall with coach Paul Warne praising his all round performance.
What exactly will he add to the Super Eagles has been the question on the lips of fans of the Nigerian team and Owngoalnigeria.com London based reporter Michael James analyse his potential role in the Super Eagles.
Aerial Strength – The rise of Semi Ajayi at Charlton Athletic was mainly due to his height and his ability to win aerial duels. At a point when he joined Arsenal, some people were even saying he will be the long terms solutions to Arsenal’s frailty in the air.
That said, one area where Nigeria struggled at the World Cup was defending set pieces. No doubt his abilities in the air will help stabilise the Eagles a bit.
Ball Winning – For now only Wilfred Ndidi looks like a real ball winner for the Nigerian team and little wonder he played in all of Nigeria’s game at the World Cup despite not being fully fit. Ajayi has same characteristics due to his early education as a central defender.
Utility Player – Ajayi can play in more than one role, thanks to his early education, he can function as a full back, centre back and even a role behind the striker as he once excelled in the role for the Development team of Arsenal where he scored a left footed effort against Conventry.