Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr has allegedly failed in his attempt to persuade Everton’s rising star Ademola Lookman to commit his international allegiance to Nigeria.
The 19-year-old London-born forward, who joined the Toffees from Charlton Athletic in a deal reportedly worth £11m in January, has represented England’s Under-19s and Under-20s.
The Nigeria Football Federation Technical Director Bitrus Bewarang confirmed in January that the NFF was interested in the youngster.
“He has Nigerian parents and we’d need to speak to him first,” BBC Sport quoted Bewarang as saying.
“I saw him against Manchester City and I was excited to see a young player of Nigerian descent shine, so I thought: ‘Why not?’”
He added, “We’ve managed to get players like Moses and Iwobi in the past and Lookman will be a great addition to the national team if we got him.”
Our correspondent learnt that Rohr discussed with the player through his representative in England recently but could not convince him to commit his international allegiance to Nigeria.
Rohr’s discussion with Lookman came after the Daily Mirror reported that the player’s representatives met with some NFF officials in London.
It was learnt that the German manager, who has been scouring Europe for young players with Nigerian roots, wanted to include Lookman in his squad for the London friendly games against Senegal (March 23) and Burkina Faso (March 27) after getting the Dutch-born Tyronne Ebuehi and German-born Naoh-Joel Bazee to commit their international futures to Nigeria.
Versatile Hannover 96 attacker Bazee,20, and ADO Den Haag right-back Ebuehi, 21, are on Rohr’s 25-man list for the London warm up matches ahead of the Eagles’ Cameroon 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in June.
It was learnt that the English FA had been trying hard to keep Lookman for the Three Lions, after losing Chelsea’s Victor Moses and Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi to Nigeria after representing England at youth levels.
Daily Mail reported on Wednesday that the FA, who are still seething over the loss of Moses and Iwobi to Nigeria as well as Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha to Ivory Coast, had “hatched a plan to pluck the best African players in academy football to play for England”.
“There is a belief within the England set-up that Iwobi, despite being only 20, would be in the senior squad now,” Daily Mail wrote.
It added, “The FA are also fearful of losing Everton youngster Ademola Lookman, who was born in Wandsworth in London and has played for England at junior level, to Nigeria.”