The Latvian first division is believed to be at the level of German third division, but former Valmieras star Tolu Arokodare has been backed to overcome the challenges of the Bundesliga
Alex Usovs, sports director of Latvian side FK Riga, is surprised that teenage striker Tolu Arokodare decided to jump at the chance to star in the Bundesliga.
But the football administrator hopes the young Nigerian succeeds so he could light the path of others from the tiny European nation.
Only 19, Arokodare emerged as the undoubted star of the first half of the Latvia league campaign, smashing in 15 goals in 16 games for Valmieras.
Anderlecht quickly surfaced as the prime suitors for Arokodare. Still, while the Belgian giants delayed, German side FC Cologne swooped to capture the teen forward on a loan deal with an option to buy at the end of the season.
Usovs, in a chat with the Express, admits that Arokodare is a special boy.
“I know Tolu very well. We have played against him numerous times,” he said.
“You can see immediately that he has enormous potential. He’s a super talent.”
But the Riga FC director knows the massive difference in quality between the Super Liga and the Bundesliga and confesses that he was expecting Arokodare to continue his development in Belgium.
“It’s a hell of a jump from Latvia to Germany,” Usovs continued.
“Personally, I would have advised him to take an intermediate step to Austria or Belgium first.
“He is brave to move to Germany immediately. I think he’ll have to be given time to get used to everything. You (German media) shouldn’t have high expectations of him straight away.”
Usovs is convinced that Arokodare is Latvian football’s biggest export to the German top-flight, and he is hoping the youngster excels so others could follow in his footsteps.
“When we played against his club Valmieras, a scout from Atlético Madrid signed up for us. I’m very sure he was there to watch Tolu. We won the game (5-2, to Riga), but Tolu scored two goals,” Usovs recalls.
“I will follow his path closely. Maybe he will open the door to the Bundesliga for Latvian players. I’d be pleased.”
Arokodare could make his Bundesliga debut on Saturday when Cologne face Arminia Bielefeld at the Schueco Arena.