Number Ten: Nura Abdullahi
Height: 1.82 m
Position: Right Back
Previous Club: Spezia
Current Club: Roma
Future Comparison: Cafu
Who Is He?
Nura Abdullahi arrived in the capital just last summer along with fellow Nigerian (and childhood friend, apparently) Sadiq Umar. Both teenagers were loaned from Spezia's youth setup, with options to make the transfers permanent for 2.5 million euros each. After a solid season starring for the primavera side in the domestic league and the UEFA Youth League, Roma decided to pick up Abdullahi's option earlier this summer.
Others have noticed his performances as well, as he's now valued at one million euros and it's been widely reported that Spanish giants Barcelona have been keeping tabs on him since facing him in the UEFA Youth League. He's expected to return from his ACL tear in December of this year, and he'll likely get a chance then to convince manager Luciano Spalletti that he should be playing in Rome the second half of the season.
On a more personal note, Abdullahi's favorite all-time movie is "All of the 'Fast and Furious' films" and the celebrity he'd most like to meet is "Akon", so that should tell you all you need to know about him off the pitch.
What Can He Do?
Abdullahi's clearly an offensive-minded right back, as he recorded three goals and three assists in 18 total appearances for the primavera last season. He only played 1,436 minutes last year though due to the injury, so it remains to be seen if he can sustain that kind of production playing on a consistent basis. Although he was called up to the first team for a few matches in the middle of last season, he's yet to make his senior debut.
What Can He Become?
As an offensive-minded right back with blistering pace and great stamina, comparisons to Brazilian and Roman legend Cafu are inevitable, but that's a ton of pressure to heap on a soon-to-be 19 year old. While Abdullahi has the potential to be the next Cafu, Roma would be ecstatic if he simply turned out to be the next Maicon, minus the Rubenesque physique of course.
The sky's the limit for Abdullahi. If he can show Spalletti that he's capable of playing right back at the highest level when he returns from injury, it wouldn't be surprising to see him backing up makeshift right back Alessandro Florenzi. Roma seems to have found their right back for years to come, now they just have to find a way to properly integrate him into the team.
Stay tuned for #9 in the CDT U23 prospect countdown!