Nigerian defender Chidozie Awaziem will be loaned out to French club FC Nantes by his current club, the Portuguese club FC Porto, for this upcoming season. Awaziem will be joined by Belgian footballer Joris Kayembe, who was a teammate of his in Porto. Awaziem is only 20 years old and just came off his international senior competitive debut in a Nigeria 2-0 loss to South Africa in a June match for 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying. Awaziem is expected to be ready for Nantes’ preseason friendly matches against Swiss clubs FC Lausanne Sport and Servette FC next week. In an Instagram post concerning the move, Awaziem commented, “New focus. New objective.”
Awaziem got some buzz from Liverpool rumors, although nothing ever came of that. Awaziem is considered a natural center back, although Nantes could also theoretically use him as a defender. That is how Nigeria used him in the South Africa match in June, placing him alongside William Troost-Ekong. Unfortunately, that experiment didn’t pay off, as South African Tokelo Rantie got past both of them en route to one of South Africa’s goals in the game. While his defensive abilities can be honed at the club level, there are calls from Nigeria fans to start Kenneth Omeruo over Awaziem at defender if primary defender Leon Balogun has yet to recover from the injuries that kept him out of that South Africa match.
Nantes, meanwhile, are expected to try making another splash after acquiring Awaziem and Kayembe. For example, they have been mentioned in rumors surrounding long time Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, who has been left exposed by Lille following a public announcement of roster overhaul. Nantes manager Claudio Ranieri has expressed his appreciation of Enyeama in the past, and will probably enter the competition for his services against at least two Turkish clubs.