Number Eight: Sadiq Umar
Height: 1.92 m
Previous Club: Spezia
Current Club: Roma
Future Comparison: Nwankwo Kanu
Who Is He?
Born in Kaduna in northwest Nigeria, Sadiq Umar grew up playing street football before joining an academy in 2011 and eventually signing with Spezia in 2013. After a year-long loan spell at Lavagnese, Umar returned to Spezia and scored an incredible 27 goals in 32 appearances for Spezia's primavera side in 2014, attracting the attention of a certain chain smoking director of football from Rome.
Umar joined Roma on loan with an option to make the transfer permanent last season, and performed well enough to convince the capital club to buy him for 2.5 million euros earlier this summer. The Nigerian striker dominated both the primavera league and the UEFA Youth League last year, scoring 19 goals and adding eight assists in 19 total appearances. Standing at 6'4, he was literally a man among boys, prompting then-manager Rudi Garcia to give him his senior debut.
Unfortunately for Umar, Garcia's mid-season dismissal and Luciano Spalletti's subsequent arrival spelled the end of his time playing on the senior squad, but he still managed two goals in six appearances. Umar's currently at the 2016 Rio Olympics where he's absolutely killing it, having scored two goals in Nigeria's first two matches. Check out one of the goals below:
What Can He Do?
Jololo, as many call him, is obviously always a threat on free kicks and crosses due to his physical prowess. And he may not look fast, but he's deceptively quick (again, see size). While he's not the most technical player, he's not too shabby either; his ability to use his strength to hold onto the ball somewhat masks that 'weakness' in his game anyways. Check out his two top flight goals from last year below:
In addition to his other qualities, Umar seems to have great tactical awareness in and around the box. He's got a good nose for the ball and finishes well.
What Can He Become?
Comments made by management after Umar's senior debut last season would indicate he'll become a healthy transfer profit for the club in the near future, but let's assume for the fun of it that Roma decides to keep him. He'd be a perfect backup for starting striker Edin Dzeko this season. He's a great target man who looks ready for a role on the senior team.
Only 19, Sadiq has merely scratched the surface of his potential. He just needs to keep working hard and the rest will fall into place eventually. If that happens, Roma will have either a great striker or a huge transfer profit.