Nigeria Under-17 captain, Adeleke Oluwatobi Babatunde has drawn interest from Europe elite clubs with Manchester City being the top on the list. The 16-year-old midfielder is considered as one of Africa’s hottest talents, with Napoli, RB Leipzig, Lille and Ajax also showing an interest in the Nigerian No.10, as teams wait to sign him ahead of his 18th birthday due to FIFA regulations.
Oluwatobi’s stunning display at the Africa Youth Games in 2018 when his side earned a silver medal alerted European clubs of his talents as they continue to battle for his signature. The Abuja Football Academy graduate was also part of the International Dream Cup in Japan, where he scored in the opening match against Mexico. He has been a key player for Nigeria football team across various age groups and, in October, he is expected to be the captain of the Nigeria Under-17s team again at the World Cup in Brazil.
The tournament tends to be a hotbed for clubs scouting the next generation of talent and a positive performance in Brazil could put Babatunde on the radar of more clubs. Nigeria have a considerable pedigree at Under-17 level having won the World Cup five times and finished as runners-up on three further occasions. Babatunde likes to wear the No.10 shirt and he can operate as either a winger or as an attacking midfielder. He is a player who scores goals and supplies assists as shown recently in a game against Algeria where he got two of each.
“There are a number of clubs tracking Tobi’s progress. He is a big talent and I believe one of the next future stars from Nigeria. It’s of no surprise teams are watching him,” his agent Godfrey K Torto of AGM Sports Agency told Goal.
“However, for the meantime, the most important thing is for Tobi to continue the hard work he has been doing by taking things step by step.
“If he continues to do so, I’m sure he has a bright future which we will guide.”
Issues surrounding a work permit might dictate Babatunde’s next move. The option of the Belgian league could be explored either on loan from a bigger club or as a direct transfer, due to the country’s favourable regulations for African players.