Henry Onyekuru is a new name in the consciousness of the average Nigerian football fan, though Arsenal is a well-supported team in the country.
So when news broke on Tuesday evening that the 19-year-old had been signed by Arsenal from KAS Eupen for about £6.8million – many did not understand how to digest the news.
Was this good news for their beleaguered manager and club or was the young man making a grievous mistake in a very nascent football career?
Watching his goals reel for the past season, in which he scored 24 goals and provided nine assists, seems a bit surreal. His agent, Mercato Sports Limited, has even boasted that Henry is better than France international, Dimitri Payet.
Arsene Wenger, who is expected to sign a new two-year deal with the Gunners on Wednesday, has never replaced the guile and the goals of Thierry Henry and this deal smacks of the French manager trying to recreate Arsenal’s glory years by cloning a part of the past for the future.
Onyekuru, who played for the Super Eagles last Sunday against Corsica is blessed with frightening pace with very close control in tight spaces. He loves to run at defenders even though he would definitely have to bulk up in size to survive the physical demands of the EPL.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, Mark McKay of Mercato Sports Limited, said, “We helped bring Dimitri Payet to West Ham and firmly believe that Henry is on another planet even to Dimitri.
“We brought Jordan Ayew to Aston Villa and his brother Andre to Swansea, both were sold for big profits but I don’t think they could lace this kid’s boots,” he’s that good.
“Look at the goals he has scored this season, it’s not a cartoon it’s reality.”
The talk of the town this last European football season has been 19-year-old Monaco forward, Kylian Mbappe, whom McKay also compared to the lighting-fast Onyekuru.
“Monaco may sell Kylian Mbappe for more than £60million this summer and they have targeted Henry as his replacement.
“He is just as big a talent but has been playing in an inferior side. If he moves to England for £6.8million, he’ll prove the sale of the century,” McKay added.
A graduate of the Aspire Academy in Senegal in 2015 when he moved to Eupen, Onyekuru told a Nigerian site [pageone.ng] in January that his dream was to play for Arsenal. He now has the chance to prove himself on one of the greatest football stages at a crucial time in their history.
There is, however, one thing the one-cap Super Eagles player has in abundance, and that is confidence.
In the days looking to his transfer, he was asked if he believed he is ready for the English Premier League to which he replied, “Believe is not the right word. I know I’m ready. I’m sure of that.”
Wenger will be hoping that this Henry turns out half as good as the legend, Henry!