Nigeria transfer grades: Man United's Ighalo steals top mark from Inter's Moses

At the end of the 2020 January transfer window, there had been around 40 moves involving players of Nigerian origin around the world.

It's unlikely anyone will be surprised by that number, because it is a well-known fact that the country is the biggest producer of football talent in Africa, and certainly one of the top 10 in the world.

That being said, one or two of those moves would have come as a surprise to many, especially some of the higher profile trades.

Grade: A+

Odion Ighalo to Manchester United

Not many transfers involving a Nigerian player have had the same stunning, out-of-left field effect that Odion Ighalo's move to Old Trafford has had.

Sure, there have been a couple that have made a big splash. Austin Okocha's transfer from Fenerbahce to PSG in 1998, which made him the most expensive African player at the time, comes to mind.

Let's not forget John Obi Mikel's own controversial, and ultimately fruitless, move to Manchester United back in 2005. Sightly below that comes Nwankwo Kanu's move from Ajax Amsterdam to Inter Milan.

But none of those quite match Ighalo's recent switch. Yes, it may be only a loan from parent club Shangai Shenhua, with no option of a permanent deal, but my word, what a move.

For a 30-year-old, recently retired from international football and seemingly out at one of football's backwaters, to make off with a Red Devil paycheck, this was the ultimate surprise.

Ighalo, of course, is no geriatric and his goal-leading exploits for Nigeria in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying and the tournament proper, where he outscored the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Riyad Mahrez, prove his value.

Udoh: Ighalo can teach Man United abut overcoming adversity

Grade: A

Victor Moses to Inter Milan

This is another one that took everyone by surprise and, were it not for Ighalo's deadline day switch to Old Trafford, would have certainly ranked as the best move of the window.

Moses had seen his time at Fenerbahce deteriorate gradually, to the point where his playing minutes were severely restricted.

An exit was expected, but probably not to Inter. But former Chelsea manager Antonio Conte had other ideas, and the retired Nigeria International was given a second chance at a big opportunity that even he would have been chuffed at.

Henry Onyekuru to Galatasaray

When Henry Onyekuru moved to Monaco last season, it was expected to be the beginning of big things for the forward, who had made progress from Eupen, to Everton, and then loan to Anderlecht and Galatasaray.

But things did not go as planned, he ended up making just four appearances for the Municipality side and his future prospects looked bleak indeed.

Of course, Onyekuru's quality was not in doubt, as nine goals in 19 league appearances for Anderlecht and 14 in 31 for Gala the season prior showed.

So a return to the Turkish side was like a homecoming for the forward and indeed that's exactly what it proved to be, as he came on late in his second debut to supply an assist for the last goal in a 4-1 win.

Grade: B

Jesse Sekkidika to Galatasaray

Not many know his name and even fewer still know of this move, but this youngster's transfer is one of the most promising of the window.

The 23-year-old is one of the most highly rated young players on the continent and Gala were impressed by his 14 league goals for Eskisehirspor last season in the Turkish second tier.

In his first game after joining them, he quickly supplied an assist in a 3-1 friendly win over Altay, and the suspicion is that he will not be long for the Super Lig if he translates his form from the lower division to the top flight.

Uchenna Kanu to Sevilla

Super Falcons starlet Uchenna Kanu made one of the more underrated moves of the window, switching from South Eastern University in the USA, where she has broken scoring records, to join Spanish side Sevilla.

Uchenna has represented Nigeria at under 17, under 20 and senior level and is considered the heir apparent to four-time CAF Women's Player of the Year Asisat Oshoala.

Mfon Udoh to FC Tulsa

What a feel good move this transfer is. Since shattering Nigeria's league scoring record, Udoh has found it hard to make a breakthrough internationally.

A serious illness kept him out of action for most of one season but he returned to win top scorer honours again, albeit shared last season, becoming the first player to win two league goal-leader awards.

The move may be to the second tier of US football, but it is one that allows the former Enyimba forward a chance to show off his skills to scouts who monitor the Americas.

Grade: What the heck were they thinking?

Chidiebere Nwakali, FF Kalmar

No contest on this one. Chidiebere Nwakali having his contract terminated by FF Kalmar for failing to return on time from the Christmas break has got to be one of the saddest tales of the year.

It really defies logic how the outrageously talented Nwakali brothers seem to continually back themselves into unnecessary corners.

Where the younger Nwakali, SD Huesca's Kelechi, has featured most in the news as he struggles to find expression for his talent, the elder Chidiebere is now following suit.

Apparently, in a push-pull dispute with the club over flight ticket refunds, Nwakali decided to stay back in Nigeria after the festive season.

The club, which had only just signed him and he'd not yet played a game, subsequently took drastic action and cut bait.

It is not clear what recourse the former Manchester City academy player has to seek redress but come on, man, get out of your own way.