Samuel Chukwueze: experiencing performance decline

By Preye Campbell

When you are a youngster with a huge potential, the world-just like the ball- seems to be at your feet. It is not surprising how that is possible because you are most likely in your breakthrough season where eyes would have seen, ears would have heard and tongues would have performed their primary duty of singing your praises as the next breakout star. This is the Heaven sent script for any promising footballer or athlete.

But also in the script is that you must keep up with a level of consistency if you want to be mentioned in the same berth with the creme-de-la-creme of the most coveted sport on Earth.

With Samuel Chukwueze, there is no denying what astronomical rise the 20-year old Umuahia born dazzler has had in the last 12 months. It seems just like yesterday when he broke into the scene and became the centre of attraction in a Barcelona Vs Villareal game that had the gods among men themselves in Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez (and probably the entire Bara squad).

Follow that up and you will also remember the string of wonderful displays he had with the national team in 2019’s AFCON tournament in Egypt. With five goals and two assists-for Villareal last season-and a number of silky moves that will light up YouTube, the following season was expected to be the year of young Sam Chukwueze’s gift to the world.

Or perhaps, now in the second half of the current La Liga season and that rise has followed a downward trajectory for anyone who has watched the youngster. Actually, there has been nothing to watch because the talented right-winger has been displaced in the Yellow Submarine team after churning a rather low output of three goals and an assist in the 2019/2020 season.

For a young footballer, it is expected that a form of ‘famine’ occurs when the player is low in form and confidence. Most experts will argue that it forms part of the player’s formative stage, so Chukwueze shouldn’t fully be concerned.

But when your last goal dates back to November and when you have lost your place in a squad, it says a lot about what needs to be done especially since your confidence and subsequent form cannot be renewed off the field.

I am tempted to compare our Diamond Academy product with other youngsters controlling the flow of the game presently. To be fair to Chukwueze, these other players in comparison have had better game time and an increased level of confidence, but it also means that you cannot bench a player who’s in form and the likes of Jadon Sancho, Mason Greenwood, Erling Braut Haaland, Billy Gilmour have somehow etched themselves into the minds of their gaffers.

Without mincing words, Chukwueze has to do the same. He has got huge potential and he fits into any top club’s style of play. He dribbles at will and is a delight to watch.

Sadly, footballing actions are suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, but this forced break should be a good time for this young player to sit at home and think things through- especially with regard to breaking back into the first team at Villareal.

No matter the path his career is facing at the moment, two paths are available for him in football- he could either go on to be a world superstar in the game or he goes down to be another football ‘could have been’, and I seriously doubt he wants the latter.

It goes without saying then that it has been a long time since Chukwueze filled our ears like he did in his breakthrough campaign. We desperately want that to happen again.