Nigerians dominate Arsenal’s U-23 lineup against Brighton

Eight young players of Nigerian heritage made the lineup of Arsenal’s under-23 side that played Brighton and Hove Albion in a Premier League 2 Division One game on Friday evening.

Five of the eight players made the starting eleven while three others were listed among the substitutes.

The starters include Ryan Alebiosu, 18; Tolaji Bola, 21; and the trio of Tim Akinola, James Olayinka and Folarin Balogun — aged 19.

While Alebiosu and Bola started from the defence, Akinola and Olayinka took over the midfield with Balogun spearheading the attack.

Balogun is a burgeoning striker that has attracted interest from Sheffield United, an English Premier League side, who had a loan bid rejected earlier in the week.

The substitutes include Ovie Ehejiri, a goalkeeper, Daniel Oyegoke, a defender, and Miguel Azeez, a central midfielder — all three are 17 and highly rated by the club.

While Ehejiri has already declared his intention to play for Nigeria’s national team, others have either represented England’s youth setup or are waiting to be called up.

Players of Nigerian heritage make up more than 30% of academy players at Arsenal.

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