Former Spain Coach Lopetegui Praises Super Eagles Hopeful

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Almeria have been flying in the Spanish second division with no small thanks to their Nigerian import

Sevilla manager Julen Lopetegui has revealed his admiration for Nigerian forward Umar Sadiq following the former AS Roma star’s excellent start to life in Spain.

Sadiq quit Partizan Belgrade for Almeria in a €5 million deal in October, but it did not look like such a great idea trading the Serbian top flight for the Segunda Division.

However, the decision has paid off for the 24-year-old, boosting his profile with 11 goals and four assists in 20 league appearances.

Those goals have powered Almeria’s rise to third on the league table, three points behind leaders Mallorca and level with Espanyol, with a game in hand over the top two.

Just three months after arriving in the country, Sadiq has been nominated for the Player of the Month award in the division. 

The next challenge for Sadiq and teammates is a quarterfinal Copa Del Rey clash against La Liga outfit Sevilla on Tuesday evening.

Twenty places separate these two sides in the Spanish football pyramid, with Sevilla sitting third in La Liga and Almeria placed third in Segunda.

La Liga promotion hopefuls Almeria have enjoyed a fine run in the cup competition, with Sadiq notching twice in the 5-0 demolition of La Liga side Alaves in the last 32.

Jose Gomes’ charges then edged out Osasuna – another top-tier side – on penalties in the last 16 on Wednesday.

Sevilla pose a stiffer challenge than those two struggling teams, but their boss, Lopetegui, is wary of the Rojiblancos’ main attacking threat.

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Speaking during his pre-match press conference, the former Spain national team manager praised Sadiq, whom he acknowledged “is an interesting player who is having a great season and had already been standing out at Serbia’s Partizan”.

Almeria have won just one of their last ten meetings against Sevilla, with that victory coming in a 3-1 away triumph over ten years ago.

Sadiq will also hope he has caught the attention of Super Eagles head coach Gernot Rohr for a national team call up. 

The former Rangers loanee is yet to be invited to the senior team despite excelling for the Dream Team, the Nigerian U-23 side, which he helped to a bronze medal finish at the Rio Olympics.

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