21 Striker Guangzhou R&F Nigeria
Powerfully built front man who had impressed on trial at Vålerenga after leaving Nigeria’s Shooting Stars SC. Unable to command a regular starting place in Oslo, Samuel moved to Sarpsborg in 2013 and attracted the attention of wealthy Guangzhou R&F a year later. With the Chinese club keen to develop what they considered to be outstanding Western talent, and with one eye on the successful period that countryman Yakubu enjoyed at the Cantonese outfit, the move did not a look a bad fit.
2015 has been…
Disappointing. Samuel is no shrinking violet on social media and a string of Instagram posts over the last year showing the young striker with varying trinkets and wads of cash have done little to suggest the real motivation for his move east isn’t material. Perhaps that’s a little unfair, Samuel has delivered to a reasonable standard, but having broken into the Nigerian national team just over a year ago, maybe we could have hoped for more.
His introduction to international football had been fairly impressive, after all. Needing results and goals, Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi turned to the striker in the latter stages of Nigeria’s doomed African Cup of Nations campaign. Introduced in a 1-0 defeat in Sudan, Samuel went on to score in wins against Sudan and Congo. However, despite making several squads since, Samuel has been overlooked by new coach Sunday Oliseh for Nigeria’s most recent matches.
The compromise at international level hasn’t been without reason. A decent run of form for Samuel between June and July this year did little to mask the poor displays offered up by Guangzhou. With Sven-Göran Eriksson and Cosmin Contra, both advocates of Samuel, gone from their roles as head coach at the club, new boss Dragan Stojković has been less impressed. With a limit to the number of foreign players that the club can retain, and with Samuel not starting a match since September, it’s not rocket science to conclude that his time in China may well be drawing to a close.
Aaron Samuel Olanare will reflect on his time at with mixed emotions. Fifteen goals in 34 appearances – if that’s where it does end – is not the worst record but could have been considerably better. Having said that, the service offered up to Samuel was never that good in the games that we watched so there’s reason to cut the Nigerian some slack.
There’s no doubt that what’s next will be a move elsewhere. Samuel has let the media know of his displeasure at being overlooked for international duty having started so well and he certainly has a point. However, no international manager will look favourably on a striker that isn’t starting matches, let alone scoring goals.
China could yet offer another lucrative position to Samuel, but he would perhaps be better suited to a return to Europe. Quick and powerful enough to make an impact anywhere, Aaron Samuel is likely to emerge as a force once more.
D Battered but not broken
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