READ: Ahmed Musa’s Grand Plan For Leicester City
EVER has the arrival of a player generated so much interest in the 132-year existence of English Premier League side, Leicester City as much as that of Nigeria winger Ahmed Musa following his transfer from CSKA (Central Army Sports Club) Moscow to the King Power Stadium for £16.6 million club record fee.
All over England and at Leicester in particular, Musa is the new Cinderella in town with both public and media purring over the arrival of the speedy Super Eagles’ star.
For a start, Claudio Ranieri, the club’s Italian manager was reportedly delighted to add another ‘airplane’ to his Leicester City version of the Royal Air Force. Last season on their way to winning a historic Premier League title, Ranieri joked regularly that his side were like the RAF in attack, as they pushed forward with so much speed, and now with new boy Ahmed Musa set to bolster the forward ranks, the manager couldn’t be happier.
“Musa can bring his speed,” said Ranieri while speaking to Foxes Player HD from the club’s pre season camp in Austria. “I don’t know if he’s as quick as Jamie Vardy, but he has lots of speed; it’s very important to have another airplane in our squad. Remember, we are the RAF and we’ve signed one of them!
“I think everything good comes from the Chairman; the Chairman is fantastic and all the people behind him are fantastic and we try to buy the right people and then good players,” he noted about his new signings.
Musa is Leicester’s most recent addition, following the signings of Nampalys ‘Papy’ Mendy, Ron-Robert Zieler and Luis Hernandez, and he reckoned that is where he belongs right now.
“I feel very happy joining Leicester City, for me it’s one of the best clubs and I feel very happy,” Musa said after his unveiling last Friday.“I joined because it’s one of the best clubs in the Premier League and they are like a family. That’s why I joined Leicester City and I’m very excited; I look forward to seeing the fans in the new season and I will do my best to make them happy.”
Speaking further exclusively from Leicester’s pre season training camp in Austria via an electronic message to MORAKINYO ABODURIN, the Super Eagles star at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil said he was looking forward to his adventure in England with heady optimism.
“It has been great time at every club I (had) played for,” stated the 23-year-old who started his career at a modest club in Jos, Plateau state. “The journey and experiences of playing in those countries and clubs are the best any footballer can wish for.”
From Jos to Holland en route to Moscow, it has been a remarkable breakthrough for Musa, the first Nigerian to score more than once in a FIFA World Cup match after his brace against Argentina in the 2014 FIFA World Cup.He began his career in the GBS Football Academy in Jos was loaned to JUTH F.C. in 2008 where he played 18 games, scoring four goals in his first two professional seasons for the Healers. He was subsequently loaned to Kano Pillars F.C. in the 200910 season where he set a new league scoring record of 18 goals in a season. He was soon on his way to Dutch club VVV-Venlo where he had an impressive two seasons between 2010 and 2012. In 2011, he was voted Nigeria Footballer of the Year in a poll conducted by African Independent Television (AIT).
Despite several interests from English and German clubs, Musa signed for Russian side, CSKA Moscow for an undisclosed fee during the January transfer’s window in 2012. It was in Moscow that Musa became the toast of the fans with eye-catching performances in the domestic league as well as in Europe where he featured regularly for his club. In June last year, he signed a new four-year contract with CSKA and the deal would have kept him at the club until the end of the 201819 season but Leicester prised him away in a dream move to England.
“I have never been in a hurry,” noted Musa, who at one time or the other was reportedly moving to big clubs like Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Ajax amongst others.“I believe in God’s time which is the best and that was why I was patient till the time come to move (to England).”
Musa’s work is seemingly cut out at Leicester City following the club’s successful campaign last season where they won the title against all odds.
Founded in 1884 as Leicester Fosse F.C., the Foxes were promoted into the Premier League after a decade away when they were crowned as champions of the Football League Championship in 201314.
Their victorious outing in the 201516 Premier League was regarded as one of the greatest sporting upset ever. Prior to that, their highest ever finish was second place in the top flight, in Division One in 192829. The club holds a joint-highest seven second-tier titles (six Second Division and one Championship). City has several promotions to their name, as well as one League One title. In 1971, they won the FA Community Shield. They have also won the League Cup three times, were finalists in 1999, and have been FA Cup runners-up four times, a tournament record for the most defeats in the final without having won the competition. Leicester will feature in the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League as their fourth time playing European football and will also play in the 2016 International Champions Cup as a pre season tournament.
But Musa remained unruffled about what lies ahead of him, adding his master plan was to contribute his best to the fortune of the club in England and Europe.
“I have never been under pressure at any club I have played (before joining Leicester),”admitted Musa.“ And it won’t be different here too; I will be my usual self at Leicester as there is no cause to be under pressure.”
As part of his plans for a thrilling experience in England, Musa equally told our correspondent about his plans for his family proving yet again that he is indeed a devoted family man:“My family will move with me (from Moscow) to England; and that is the plan for them.”
Interestingly, Musa and other new faces at Leicester have joined the club’s pre-season training camp in Austria and Danny Drinkwater insisted that the team would be doing everything to make the new boys welcome. “They’re (the new signings) looking good; nice and sharp,” the England International reportedly told Foxes Player HD. “As a bunch of lads, we make sure that every player who comes in here feels welcome and I’m sure they’ll agree that it’s a pretty easy squad to fit into; so hopefully they all fit together and start to impress.”
Building on Drinkwater’s suggestion, Musa equally admitted that that there ‘is no pecan without pains’ but insisted that hard work would keep him in good stead in his new adventure in England:“ There is nothing like secret to my success in CSKA Moscow (and at all other clubs I had played for); it is just hard work, dedication and God that has kept me going forward.
“ I have good memories of my stay with CSKA Moscow; when we celebrated trophies that we won, when I scored goals and made the fans were happy and by the grace of God, it would be the same thing at Leicester,” he enthused.
Meanwhile, Musa’s switch to Leicester has literally turned fans at his departed Russian club, CSKA Moscow to conglomerate of agitators with both the public and press faulting the rationale behind the sale of the gifted Nigerian player at this time.
“ Musa was a key player for CSKA in the last couple of seasons, so the fans were sad when he decided to leave,” Sergey Kuzovenko, Moscow-based Football with Soviet Sport told The Nation Sport & Style.“In fact, no one’s there to replace him so it’s a little bit scary for them too because he’s got a great personality, a friendly, calm and humble guy who was never involved in any scandals in his 4 seasons.
“ Many fans consider Musa as a player who became big in Russia, who’s made a big step forward here (especially in improving tactical skills) and they are proud about it. Some even call him “the son of CSKA”.
“There is no anger at all, just sadness. Everybody likes Leicester and will now cheer for the club even more,” he added.
While the fans may be lamenting, Musa’s big money move to Leicester was like a manna from the Heavens to the cash-trapped CSKA Moscow according to the vastly experienced Kuzovenko: “I think it’s (Musa’s transfer to Leicester) one of three biggest transfer deals in CSKA history (João Alves, was sold to Man City for £19 million, Yuri Zhirkov for £18 million to Chelsea),so they have to be satisfied if we are talking about the financial side.
“ Russian football and CSKA in particular are in trouble (owner of the club Evgeny Giner was being sued for $98 million by some of his business partners recently) so good offers are accepted, they just have to survive somehow.
“There’s financial fair play in addition too but he big problem is they still have no replacement for Musa, not a single quality striker in the team right now; there were times they had this Doumbia-Musa duo.”
Speaking further, Kuzovenko gave the perspective of the Russian media to the big leap by Musa to Leicester, insisting that the vacuum of the Nigerian at CSKA Moscow would be difficult to fill: “ Overall, the media is saying the same as the fans; not a good sign for the league when strong players leave one after another (Hulk is gone, Axel Witsel will surely leave too and Vedran Ćorluka too and so on). “Probably the clubs are running out of money and there will be no big signings at all (maybe Zenit Saint Petersburg is an exception); I think some of the journalists feel flattered our league can still “produce” players which are bought by top-clubs.”
Yet Kuzovenko has predicted a brighter future for Musa at Leicester with the seeming decline of standard of the Russian league.
“I think it was about time for him to move on and make this next step in his career,” he admitted.”English style of football and Leicester in particular fit him well I guess, Musa will be the perfect man to punish the opponent in a fast counter attack (if Ranieri will keep the style of the previous season); great move!”
As they say, the ball is now in the court of Musa to prove that his exploits over the years and indeed at CSKA Moscow were no flukes when he finally gets his career underway at Leicester City.