Scout report: Villarreal winger Samuel Chukwueze

He's a fleet-footed winger likened to Arjen Robben; meet Villarreal's new star Samuel Chukwueze.

Villarreal's Samuel Chukwueze has caught the eye in the UEFA Europa League this term
Villarreal's Samuel Chukwueze has caught the eye in the UEFA Europa League this term ©AFP

They might be struggling domestically, but Villarreal are enjoying a better time of it in the UEFA Europa League; we pay homage to the Yellow Submarine's teenage Nigerian who is making waves.

Scout notes

Ones to watch: Samu Chukwueze
Ones to watch: Samu Chukwueze

Name: Samuel Chukwueze
Age: 19
Club: Villarreal
Position: Winger
Country: Nigeria
2018/19*: 25 games, 5 goals

Who is he?

A quick, skilful winger and graceful runner with the ball at his feet, Chukwueze – known as 'Samu' – is the 19-year-old Nigerian helping to power Villarreal's Liga survival bid and UEFA Europa League charge.

What makes him so good?

The teenager's direct running, trickery and willingness to shoot with his favoured left foot have caught the eye and earned comparisons with Bayern winger Arjen Robben. Similarly unafraid to assume responsibility, Chukwueze relies on his speed and quick feet to make something happen.

Chukwueze is turning heads in Spain
Chukwueze is turning heads in Spain©AFP

Why is he the centre of attention?

He's added goals and assists to his evident dribbling ability. Chukwueze scored in back-to-back Liga games in November, following up with his first European goal in a 2-0 win against Spartak Moskva that clinched qualification for the UEFA Europa League round of 32. His assist for Santi Cazorla's opening goal against Real Madrid was a beauty, too, showcasing excellent close control and vision.

Where has he come from?

Chukwueze rose through the ranks at the Diamond Academy in Nigeria before Villarreal swooped in 2017 amid reported interest from Arsenal, Monaco and Porto. The youngster has progessed swiftly, admitting that even he did not expect his senior breakthrough to come quite so soon.

Prior to joining the Yellow Submarine, he had contributed three goals as Nigeria lifted the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup.

When did he make his debut?

The Nigerian had the rare honour of receiving a senior international call-up prior to his league debut. Chukwueze's maiden appearance at club level came in the UEFA Europa League as a late substitute against Rangers in September 2018, before he scored on his second Liga outing – a 2-2 draw against Rayo Vallecano – in November, just days before his international bow against Uganda.

The teenager has scored in all three competitions he has played in this season
The teenager has scored in all three competitions he has played in this season©Getty Images

How far could he go?

With Villarreal struggling and Chukwueze flitting in and out of the side, it can be tough to gauge, but he certainly has the attributes – pace, direct running, eye for goal – to succeed anywhere in Europe.

Having made his Nigeria debut late in 2018, a realistic short-term aim is a place in the Super Eagles' squad for this summer's CAF Africa Cup of Nations.

What they say …

"Sometimes when you're in a bad patch, a team needs cheeky players like Samu with something different."
Raúl Herrera, Villarreal academy director

"He's a player who floats across the ground – it seems as if he doesn't even touch the grass – but he's still developing. He has to work more in defence."
Luis García, former Villarreal coach

"Chukwueze has a good left foot, is quick, has a low centre of gravity - which gives him very good balance - and can deliver and score."
Gernot Rohr, Nigeria coach

"He has a quality that just overflows and you can't stop, like a river."
Miguel Álvarez, Villarreal youth team coach

What he says …

"My friends started the whole Arjen Robben comparison because of my playing style and I consider him my first football hero. I know there's still a lot for me to do to even come close to what he has achieved in football, so I'm not getting carried away."

"At Villarreal the officials keep reminding me of another Nigerian  Ikechukwu Uche  who they regard as a legend at the club; they've told me to try to emulate his ways on and off the pitch."

"I still don't feel all that important. I need to keep working hard so that the coach continues to believe and trust in me."

*appearance data includes games for Villarreal and Nigeria

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