While it’s rare for a player to move up in a youth countdown after missing the majority of the previous season, two players who were ahead of Umar in last year’s countdown aren’t considered ‘youth’ players anymore, and another two were sold by the club. Also, it’s too soon for Pietro Tomaselli and Cristian Totti. So here we are!
Number Six: Sadiq Umar
Prior Club: Bologna (Italy)
Current Club: TBD
Rank Last Year: 8th
Future Comparison: Nwankwo Kanu
Who Is He?
I’m going to take a page out of the Book of Bren here and plagiarize myself for this part:
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.
After lighting up Roma’s primavera to the tune of 14 goals and two assists in the first half of the 2015 season, Umar received a call-up to the senior team from then manager Rudi Garcia. The Nigerian international made a big first impression by scoring twice in his first two matches, but he was quickly sent back down following the arrival of former manager Luciano Spalletti.
Last year Umar went on loan to Bologna, where he struggled to even get on the pitch due to a lingering ankle injury.
What Can He Do?
Unfortunately Umar wasn’t able to showcase much in the 230 minutes he played last season, but the talent is there. His goal against PSG in the International Champions Cup earlier this summer is evidence of that.
Umar displays an incredible amount of skill on the goal given his size, bringing Gerson’s pass down deftly before slotting it between the keeper’s legs from a tight angle. Later in the match he even shows a burst of speed on a run which would’ve culminated with a penalty had the match official been watching the same game. The highlights also show Umar’s ability to be a physical presence in the match, drawing several fouls while shielding defenders from the ball.
What Can He Become?
On the whole Umar seems to possess many of the characteristics a striker needs to have success in Serie A. The Nigerian international has a solid foundation to build on, now he just needs to start building. The next step in his development is a solid loan spell. Roma manager Eusebio Di Francesco certainly took notice of Umar’s goal against PSG, but recent rumors indicate he could go on loan to Torino with an option-to-buy (hopefully with a counter option for Roma in a few years).