By Adedapo Adesanya
Nigeria retained the 36th position in the latest Federation of the International Football Association (FIFA)/Coca-Cola Rankings released this month.
According to the global football governing body, due to disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, only 352 full internationals were played in 2020 but by contrast, football made up for the lost time in 2021 with a record-breaking 1,116 matches played.
While the number of games changed radically from one year to the next, the top-ranked team in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings has remained intact, with Belgium topping the rankings for the fourth consecutive year.
Belgium was ahead of Brazil (2nd) by 2.1 points while France (3rd) completed the podium for 2021.
This year’s Most Improved Side is Canada with a 130.32-point gain having picked up no fewer than 130.32 points over the last 12 months.
Their journey to the semi-finals of the 2021 Gold Cup as well as impressive results in qualifying for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 were major factors in their rise.
Winners of the UEFA EURO 2020 and the Copa America 2021 respectively, Italy (6th + 115.77 points compared to December 2020) and Argentina (5th +108.51 points compared to December 2020) have also seen their points tally increase dramatically this year.
The same goes for the USA (11th + 103.51 points compared to December 2020) and England (4th + 85.52 points compared to December 2020).
Equatorial Guinea (114th + 59.78 points compared to December 2020) made the most impressive progress among African teams, while Saudi Arabia (51st + 81.71 points compared to December 2020) did the same in Asia.
However, just in terms of last month, the most improved Asian team was Indonesia (164th + 11.13 points).
Winners of the FIFA Arab Cup 2021, Algeria (29th +3) jointly made the best progress in terms of places, along with Qatar (48th + 3), who finished third at the tournament, and Thailand (115th +3).
The next FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking will be published on February 10, 2022.
Ibrahim Gusau Succeeds Amaju Pinnick as NFF President
By Dipo Olowookere
Mr Ibrahim Gusau has been elected to succeed Mr Amaju Pinnick as the president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
Mr Gusau emerged the new leader of the football governing organisation in Nigeria at an election held on Friday in Benin City, the capital of Edo State.
He will direct football affairs in the country for the next four years as a result of his emergence as the NFF president today.
Mr Gusau defeated his other contenders for the position by polling 21 votes. His closest challenger, Mr Seyi Akinwunmi, who served as the first vice president under Mr Pinnick, garnered 12 votes. Another challenger, Mr Shehu Dikko, who was the former chairman of the League Management Committee (LMC), raked in six votes at the 78th Elective Congress of the NFF in Benin City.
In addition, a former Super Eagles goal-stopper, Mr Peterside Idah, got a lone vote at the exercise, same as Mr Abba Abdullahi, while Mr Christian Emeruwa and Mr David-Buhari Doherty, got no single vote.
Mr Pinnick, who is an executive of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the international governing body of association football, was the president of the NFF for eight years.
Highest Paid Nigerian Footballer – How Much Do Nigerian Footballers Earn
Highest-Paid footballer from Nigeria
The phrase “Naija no dey carry last” has been evident in football recently as there has been an influx of Nigerian footballers playing abroad. Football is the most popular sport in Nigeria with millions of fans supporting their clubs abroad. Nigeria has always been a home of incredible football talents and with more amazing young footballers showing in recent years, the weekly wages of Nigerian footballers has been on a rise.
The huge wages being paid to Nigerian footballers isn’t a surprise as the impact of the players is evident in those teams. Aside from the high wages they earn, Naija footballers are being traded for a huge amount of money. In the summer of 2020, Victor Oshimen became the most expensive African footballer of all time as he joined Napoli from Lille for about $80 million-plus add-on. Hardly any top European league without a Nigerian footballer performing at a high level and earning huge wages. A good sign for the Super Eagles as the national squad is now full of top talents.
We have decided to go on an adventure to reveal the highest-paid footballers from Nigeria, who are also featured in the best football predictions bettors will find on Takebet Nigeria. We have searched all leagues where Nigerian players compete, from European leagues such as English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1, Bundesliga to other top leagues.
Let’s dig into the list of the highest-paid footballers from Nigeria.
Odion Ighalo – Striker, Al-Hilal – $170,000 (last know)
Odion Ighalo is one of the most popular Nigerian players. The striker became the first Nigerian international to play for Manchester United after he joined the club on loan from the Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua in January 2020. Odion Ighalo scored five goals in 23 appearances before returning to Shanghai Shenhua at the end of his loan.
The Nigerian international joined Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab from the Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua in 2021. Ighalo scored 10 league goals in 19 appearances for Shanghai Shenhua. Odion made his debut in 2005 and moved to Europe in 2008 where he joined Udinese. The Nigerian international joined Watford during the 2014-15 and scored 36 league goals in 90 appearances for the club.
Odion Ighalo represented the Super Eagles during the 2018 World Cup. The Nigerian international holds the record for the most goals scored during a single Africa Cup of Nations with seven goals in 2019.
Ighalo earned $170,000 per week in Al Shabab. Odion Ighalo joins Al-Hilal, another Saudi football club, after the AFCON 2021. His salary in the new club is currently unknown, but the striker is sure to keep his #1 spot.
Victor Osimhen – Striker, Napoli – $110,000
Victor Osimhen is currently one of the best strikers in Europe. The Nigerian international has been amazing for Napoli this season after a slow start to life in the Italian Club. Victor Osimhen became the most expensive Africa striker in history after he joined Napoli from Lille for a fee of about $80 million in the winter transfer of 2020.
The Napoli striker has scored 19 goals in 45 appearances for the Italian side. Osimhen had an incredible rise to glory as he wasn’t able to join either Zulte Waregem or Club Brugge in his early days due to Malaria. Victor was in Nigeria’s under-17 team that won the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup. The Nigerian international won the Golden Boot in the tournament with 10 goals. He also won the Silver Ball award during the tournament.
Osimhen missed out on the 2018 World Cup squad. He made his debut for the national team in 2017. The Nigerian international made the squad for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and has been brilliant since then. He has scored 10 goals in 18 appearances for the national team.
Victor currently plays in Napoli and he earns $110,000 per week.
Wilfred Ndidi – Midfielder, Leicester City – $100,000
Wilfred Ndidi is currently one of the best defensive midfielders in the world. The Nigerian international has been incredible since he joined Leicester City from Genk in the winter transfer of 2017 for $20m. Ndidi has scored 10 goals in 196 appearances since he joined the club.
The Nigerian international won the most tackles in the Premier League (138) during the 2017-18 season. He also won the most tackles in the league in the following season of 2018-19. Wilfred Ndidi was an important player of the squad that won the 2020-21 FA Cup as they defeated Chelsea by a goal to nil.
Ndidi represented Nigeria during the 2016 Summer Olympics. He made the squad for the 2018 World Cup as they were knocked out in the group stage. Ndidi also represented the Super Eagles in the 2019 and 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. He has 47 caps for the Nigerian national team.
Wilfred Ndidi currently plays for Leicester City and earns $100,000 per week.
Kelechi Iheanacho – Striker, Leicester City – $80,000
Seniorman Kelz as he is widely regarded came into the limelight after an impressive outing during the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup. The Nigerian international won the Golden Ball award as the Super Eagles won the tournament. Iheanacho scored six goals during the competition as he won the Silver Boot.
Kelechi Iheanacho joined Manchester City in 2015. Iheanacho scored 21 goals in 64 appearances for Manchester City as he won the English Football League Cup. The Nigerian international joined Leicester City for a fee of about $30 million in the summer of 2017. Iheanacho was brilliant during the 2020-21 season as he scored 12 goals in the Premier League, overperforming his expected goals of 8.20.
Iheanacho represented Nigeria during the 2018 World Cup. The Leicester City striker also represented the Super Eagles during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. Iheanacho has scored 12 goals in 42 appearances for the national team.
Kelechi Iheanacho currently plays for Leicester City and earns $80,000.
Alex Iwobi – Midfielder, Everton – $68,000
Alex Iwobi started his club career with Arsenal as he joined the youth team in 2004. The Nigerian international made his senior debut in 2015 for Arsenal against Sheffield Wednesday.
Iwobi scored 15 goals in 149 appearances for Arsenal as he spent four seasons with the senior team. The Nigerian international joined Everton from Arsenal for a fee of about $45 million in the summer of 2019. Iwobi won the FA Cup and two Community Shields with the Gunners. The Nigerian international has scored six goals in 80 appearances for Everton.
Alex made his international debut for Nigeria in 2015 although he started as a youth international for England. The Everton player has scored nine goals in 53 appearances for the Super Eagles. Iwobi scored the winning goal against Zambia to secure a spot for the Super Eagles in the 2018 World Cup. He was featured in the 2018 World Cup as Nigeria was knocked out in the group stage.
Iwobi played for the Super Eagles in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations. The Nigerian international was sent off in the Round of 16 of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations as the Super Eagles suffered a 0-1 defeat to Tunisia.
Alex Iwobi currently plays for Everton and earns $68,000.
Victor Moses – Midfielder, Spartak Moscow – $56,000
Victor Moses was a popular player amongst Nigerian fans after he played a huge role in Chelsea’s Premier League triumph during the 2016-17 season. The Nigerian international started his club career in Crystal Palace before joining Wigan in 2010. Chelsea signed Moses in the summer of 2022 from Wigan. Moses went on loan to Liverpool, Stoke City and West Ham United before returning for the 2016-17 season.
The Nigerian international was converted to a right wing-back under Antonio Conte as Chelsea won the league. Moses was later loaned out to different teams such as Fenerbache, Inter Millan and Spartak Moscow. The latter club signed the player on a permanent basis in July 2021. Victor Moses scored 18 goals in 128 appearances while playing for Chelsea. He won the Premier League, FA Cup and two UEFA Europa League titles with the Blues.
Victor Moses scored 12 goals in 37 appearances for the Nigeria national team. The Spartak Moscow player was an important player in Nigeria’s 2013 Africa Cup of Nations triumph. Moses featured for the Super Eagles in the 2014 World Cup and the 2018 World Cup where he scored a goal in the 1-2 defeat to Argentina.
Victor Moses currently plays for Spartak Moscow and earns $56,000.
Moses Simon – Winger, Nantes – $40,000
Moses Simon was Nigeria’s best player during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations. The Nigerian international started his senior club career with AS Trencin in 2014 where he scored 17 goals in 39 appearances before joining Gent in 2015. Moses scored 21 goals in 136 appearances with Gent as he spent four seasons at the club before joining Levante. The Nigerian international won the Belgian Pro League and Belgian Super Cup while in Gent.
Moses joined Levante on loan for the 2019-20 season with an option to buy. The deal was made permanent the following season as he signed a four-year deal. Moses has scored 17 goals in 85 appearances for Nantes.
Simon made his debut for the Super Eagles in 2015 against Uganda. He has scored six goals in 45 appearances for the national team. Simon represented Nigeria during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
Highest paid Nigerian footballer FAQ
Who is the highest-paid footballer in Nigeria?
Odion Ighalo is the highest-paid Nigerian footballer. Ighalo joined Al Shabab from Shanghai Shenhua in January 2020 where he was being paid $402,000. The Nigerian international was the first player to play for Manchester United after he took a pay cut and received $200,000 to join the club on loan.
The Nigerian international was paid $170,000 in Al Shabab, and he is thought to stay in the same salary range in his new Saudi club, Al-Hilal, which he joins after the AFCON 2021.
Who is the richest Nigerian football player overall?
John Obi Mikel is the richest Nigerian footballer with a net worth of about $57 million. The Nigerian international is one of the greatest footballers in the country’s history. Mike Obi made his fortunes while playing for Chelsea in the Premier League. He spent 11 seasons at Chelsea where he scored six goals in 372 appearances for the club. Mikel won two Premier League titles, one UEFA Champions League, one UEFA Europa League, three FA Cup, one English Football League Cup and one FA Community Shield during his time at Chelsea.
Mikel Obi is currently a free agent after his contract with Kuwait SC was terminated just four months after joining the club.
Who is the most expensive footballer from Nigeria?
Victor Osimhen is the most expensive Nigerian footballer. Osimhen joined Napoli from Lille for a fee of about $80m in 2020 after scoring 18 goals in 38 appearances for the French club. The Nigerian international has scored 19 goals in 45 appearances for Napoli. Osimhen is being paid $110,000 per week in Napoli.
Has the Gambling Industry Benefited Nigeria?
Ever since Nigeria opened herself up for gambling companies to begin operations in Nigeria, there has been unending debates about the impacts of sports betting and gambling generally.
While some have welcomed the development with open arms, others have not been particularly receptive to the idea of a sports betting industry in a somewhat conservative country.
Critics of online gambling have been quick to point out the possible negative effects of gambling which include addictive gambling habits, financial impropriety and underage gambling and many other undesirable consequences that come with the territory.
Despite the reservations from so many quarters, sports betting is now pervasive in Nigeria, resulting in a multi million dollar industry following the huge patronage betting companies are enjoying.
The success of the betting companies and the industry at large could be attributed to the aggressive marketing push of these bookmakers offering a plethora of betting bonuses and other sundry offers to new and existing players.
Beyond the shores of Nigeria, the Nigerian betting industry is making waves and it is now widely considered as the poster child of the igaming business on the continent.
Given the giant strides of the gambling industry, it is safe to say that the gambling industry isn’t all doom. There have been positive effects all along!
So, what are the benefits of a thriving igaming industry in Nigeria? Has there been any tangible gains from opening up to betting companies? Or is it just hot air? The evidence on the ground suggests that there is actually substance to the talk of positive effects of online gambling in the country.
So, let’s take a look at some of these positives!
Nigeria has been bedeviled by a long running challenge of unemployment. A good number of the population that falls within the employment bracket have been affected by the lack of job opportunities.
However, that trend is changing with betting companies creating roles that are constantly filled by Nigerians. From the corporate headquarters to the retail shops of the betting companies dotting the landscape of the country, Nigerians are getting gainfully employed.
Increased Government Revenue
Another advantage of the igaming industry is the opportunity for increased government revenue. Ever wondered why the government liberalized and deregulated the lottery industry in Nigeria?
The answer to this question is simple! Betting companies looking to set up operations in Nigeria part with millions of dollars to obtain a license to begin operations in Nigeria. Additionally, these establishments pay to have their licenses renewed along with regular company taxes expected from them.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Furthermore, betting companies like other establishments in other sectors have social responsibilities they live up to. Beyond creating jobs and remitting taxes to the coffers of the government, betting companies have been heavily involved in corporate social responsibility more than ever before.
No doubt there are inherent dangers in the online betting industry, however, the industry is not all gloom. It is indeed bringing good tidings to Nigeria and Nigerians!
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