Super Eagles defender Calvin Bassey was, today, unveiled by Ajax in a move that will potentially reach £23 million, making him the most expensive Nigerian defender ever. The 22-year-old left-back is not, however, the most expensive Nigerian footballer of all-time, with that honour going to Napoli striker Victor Osimhen. With that in mind, here is the list of the Top 10 most expensive players in Nigerian football history:
#10: John Obi Mikel (Lyn Oslo to Chelsea; £16 million)
One of the most profound transfer sagas of the 21st century involved Nigerian youngster John Obi Mikel when Chelsea sought to prize him away from his Norwegian club Lyn Oslo. The London side had to circumvent the youngster’s negotiations with Manchester United before completing a deal for him for £16 million in 2006. He went on to represent the club for 10 years before leaving for Tianjin Teda in 2017. Mikel won every major tournament he competed in as a Chelsea player.
#9 Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow to Leicester City; £16.6 million)
After dazzling in the Russian Premier League for CSKA Moscow, Super Eagles winger Ahmed Musa decided to take his talents to the English Premier League with Leicester City. He joined the Foxes in 2016 for a then-club record £16.6 million but endured a poor spell at the club, scoring five times in 33 appearances over two seasons. He moved back to CSKA Moscow on loan for half a season before completing a transfer to Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr in August 2018.
#8 Taiwo Awoniyi (Union Berlin to Nottingham Forest; £17.5 million)
Super Eagles striker Taiwo Awoniyi enjoyed a brilliant 2021-22 season at German side Union Berlin and this earned him a club-record transfer to newly-promoted Nottingham Forest for £17.5 million. The former Liverpool striker is expected to lead the line for Steve Cooper’s side.
#7 Wilfred Ndidi (KRC Genk to Leicester City; £18 million)
Midfield maestro Wilfred Ndidi completed a transfer from Belgian outfit KRC Genk to Leicester City for £18 million in 2017. The Super Eagles star has gone on to establish himself as one of the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League in his time at the King Power Stadium and remains a key member of the Foxes’ starting XI.
#6 Odion Ighalo (Watford to Changchun Yatai; £20 million)
Odion Ighalo enjoyed an impressive spell in the Premier League with Watford before moving to the Far East where he joined Chinese side Changchun Yatai for £20 million in 2017. The striker stayed at the club for two years before moving to Shanghai Shenhua in 2019. He currently plies his trade in Saudi Arabia with Al Hilal.
#5 Ademola Lookman (Everton to RB Leipzig; £22.5 million)
Former England U-20 winger Ademola Lookman enjoyed an impressive breakout year in the Premier League with Everton in 2017 which culminated in a loan move to German side RB Leipzig in 2018. The Nigerian international eventually completed a permanent move to the Bundesliga side in 2019 for £22.5 million. His time at the club has not gone to plan, and he has spent the last two seasons on loan at Fulham and Leicester City, respectively.
#4 Calvin Bassey (Rangers to Ajax; £23 million)
Calvin Bassey joined Ajax for a fee that could reach £23 million after an excellent 2021-22 season at the Ibrox Stadium with Rangers. The left-back played a starring role for the side as they reached the final of the UEFA Europa League.
#3 Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City to Leicester City; £25 million)
After proving himself as a boy-wonder for Manchester City under the tutelage of Mauricio Pellegrini, the arrival of Pep Guardiola to the Etihad Stadium meant Kelechi Iheanacho’s time there came to an abrupt end. The Nigerian star completed a transfer to Leicester City for £25 million in 2017, and has remained at the club ever since.
#2 Alex Iwobi (Arsenal to Everton; £35 million)
Alex Iwobi made his professional debut for his boyhood club Arsenal in 2015 and remained at the club until 2019 when he moved to Everton for £35 million total package. The midfielder has been a regular for the Toffees since joining the club.
#1 Victor Osimhen (Lille to Napoli; £74 million)
Victor Osimhen is not just the most expensive Nigerian footballer ever, but also the most expensive to come out of Africa. The former Lille striker joined Napoli for £74 million in 2020 and has quickly become a fan favourite at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.