I saw great promise in Chuba Akpom when he played 20 minutes for Arsenal against Aston Villa a few weeks ago, and it seems that the Nigerian Football Federation have also noticed his ability and is keen for the 19 year-old to choose to play for his ancestral country.
Akpom was actually born in Canning Town and has played for England at U16 to U20 levels, but the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, is keen for him and Semi Ajayi, who was born in Lagos, to play for Nigeria as full internationals.
Mr. Pinnick had a meeting with Wenger at our training ground and said afterwards: “As we had always known, Arsene is very knowledgeable; vast in his knowledge and appreciation of Nigeria as a footballing country, and widely philosophical in his general approach”.
“He told me that he has never stopped any player from opting for whichever national team he wants. He said to me that he always tells his players to follow their hearts and not allow people to push them. He further assured that if Nigeria extended a call-up to either or both of his players, he will have no objection if the players say they want to go,”
“Arsene told us that he will gladly do what he can to assist where we want, and has already started giving encouraging signs towards the capacity building exercises for our coaches at all levels,”
Akpom has never, to my knowledge, given any hint about which country he would prefer to play for, but I personally can’t see Wenger encouraging his players to join any country that wants to take away his best players for a whole month during the season, every two years, to play in the African Cup of Nations….