Ighalo, Aina, Balogun: 7 top Nigerian stars set to face club uncertainty this summer

Ighalo, Aina, Balogun: 7 top Nigerian stars set to face club uncertainty this summer

As the summer transfer window approaches, a handful of players with expiring contracts are on the verge of entering uncharted territory, with their club futures hanging in the balance.

In this feature, Soccernet.ng examines the potential prospects for these players who could soon be without a club.


Sone Aluko

At 34, Omatsone ‘Sone’ Aluko may have lost some of his lightning pace and trickery on the right wing, but his quality still shines through at lower league levels.

The former Rangers man showcased delightful footwork for Ipswich Town in League One this season, providing one assist in his 14 appearances.

With a wealth of experience from playing at notable clubs like Reading, Fulham, Rangers, and Hull City, Aluko could be an intriguing option for clubs needing attacking reinforcements.

Josh Maja

Another player facing an uncertain future is 24-year-old striker Josh Maja, who has made a significant impact in France’s Ligue 2.

Maja’s impressive record of 16 goals and six assists in 37 appearances for Girondins Bordeaux nearly propelled his team to automatic promotion.

Josh Maja
Josh Maja

With previous stints at Sunderland and Stoke City, Maja’s skill set and youthful energy make him an enticing prospect for clubs seeking a potent center-forward. Rumours suggest a potential summer switch to Glasgow Rangers.

Ola Aina

26-year-old Super Eagles right-back Ola Aina finds himself at a crossroads as his contract with Torino ends.

Aina has showcased his defensive prowess in Serie A, contributing one goal and one assist in 19 appearances this season.

There is speculation of a return to the English Premier League, with several clubs reportedly vying for his signature.

With 29 appearances for the Super Eagles since his debut in 2017, Aina’s international experience further enhances his appeal.

Bryan Idowu

Versatile defender Bryan Idowu is among the players facing an uncertain future. The 31-year-old Nigerian star has made 16 appearances for Khimki in the Russian Premier Liga this season.

Idowu’s ability to play as both a left-back and right-back makes him a valuable asset, especially considering his previous involvement with the Super Eagles during the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Efe Ambrose

Experienced center-back Efe Ambrose, aged 34, has represented clubs such as St. Johnstone, Derby, Celtic, and Hibernian.

Despite his age, Ambrose’s recent performances for Morton in the Scottish Championship have been noteworthy, with one goal and one assist in just 11 games.

The ageless defender could potentially seek one more season as a professional before considering hanging up his boots.

Ambrose played a vital role in Nigeria’s triumph in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, making him an attractive prospect for clubs seeking defensive stability.

Leon Balogun

Another seasoned center-back, Leon Balogun, is currently plying his trade for Queens Park Rangers in the English Championship but is set to be clubless in a few days.

Leon Balogun
Leon Balogun

Since his arrival in August 2022, Balogun has demonstrated his worth with one goal in 16 appearances, proving to be a commanding presence at the heart of the defence. 

Balogun’s experience at clubs like Wigan, Mainz, and Brighton, coupled with his contributions to Nigeria’s bronze medal win at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, could make him a valuable addition to any team.

Odion Ighalo

Prolific forward Odion Ighalo has concluded his time at Al Hilal, and now his search for a new team begins. The announcement of his departure from the Saudi Arabian side has already been made, leaving Ighalo on the lookout for his next chapter in football.

During his stint at Al Hilal, Ighalo’s performances were nothing short of exceptional.

This season, the 33-year-old hitman showcased his goal-scoring prowess, finding the back of the net an impressive 19 times and providing two assists in just 27 league appearances.

His remarkable contributions also played a significant role in Al Hilal reaching the final of the AFC Champions League. It comes as no surprise that Ighalo was named to the Saudi Pro League’s Team of the Season. 

One of Nigeria’s finest strikers of the last decade, Ighalo played a pivotal role in Nigeria’s successful campaign at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, where he emerged as the tournament’s top scorer.

As these Nigerian stars enter the summer without a club, their fans eagerly await to see which teams will seize the opportunity to secure their services.

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