Bonded with The Winged Lions


After what seems like a stormy season with Club Brugge, David Okereke went on a season loan to Venezia. With three goals in 11 games, the last of those in the 3-2 comeback victory over Roma last Sunday, the Nigeria forward has found comfort at the Stadio Per Luigi Penzo and according to him, he would love to stay put in Venice if he could have his way

Since his days with Serie B side Spezia, David Okereke had always prayed to play in Italy’s topflight but his team failed to gain promotion to Serie A.

After rumored interest from Turin and Milan giants- Juventus and Inter for his signature failed to materialize he eventually pitched tent with Club Brugge. His dream however came to fruition this summer when newly promoted Serie A club Venezia came calling.

In the summer transfer window Venezia completed the signing of the Nigeria youth international on a season-long loan from Club Brugge, with the option to hand the 24-year-old a permanent contract at the end of the 2021-22 campaign and Okereke seems to have found a home with the Venice side already.

Last Sunday, the Nigeria international found the back of the net in the last quarter to help his team bag maximum points at home after he scored the winner to steer Venezia past AS Roma.
Okereke had had an earlier opportunity to punish Roma after he made a solo run using his individual brilliance to get into the danger zone, but his effort narrowly missed the target.

However, with about 15 minutes to the end of proceedings and the scores at 2-2 the 24-year-old wrong-footed the opponent’s goalkeeper before firing into the back of the net to hand his team maximum points at the expense of the Jose Mourinho men.
It was his third goal in 11 Serie A matches for his team.
Venezia coach, Paolo Zanetti later revealed the reason he handed Okereke the role of playing as a lone striker during the game.

Speaking to Sky Sport Italia as quoted by Football Italia, Zanetti explained the Super Eagle’s role.
“I tend to change the centre-forward depending on what we need for the characteristics of the opposition, so this time I wanted Okereke to attack the space with two players in support.”

On the team’s overall performance, Zanetti said; “Aside from the result, I would still have been proud of this performance.
“My players showed they could suffer against a top club and worked hard, we never held back from attacking and creating, we turned the game around from a losing situation and when my players show this spirit, a coach can only be proud.

“The group is coming together now. We have a core of the team that did well last season, they are helping me to bring the 20-or-so foreign new players to settle in and today we really were a team, even regardless of the historic victory,” Zanetti said.

Okereke indeed insisted that he’s happy at Venezia, but doesn’t know what the future holds for him at his club, Club Brugge.
Okereke struggled for a game-time before leaving Club Brugge, but, he’s playing regularly at Venezia and there is a suggestion that he might want to remain in Italy beyond this season.
Reacting to the reports, the former Spezia man said, he’s enjoying his time in Italy, but, stated that only Club Brugge has the final say over his future.

“At Venezia, the coach is patient with me. He doesn’t ask for things I can’t do. He just wants you to give your heart to the team.”

“Club Brugge will decide whether I still have a future with them,” he said. “I am like a moving train: I don’t know what my next destination will be,” he told Belgian tabloid.

The Nigeria international who moved to Belgium in 2019, won back-to-back Belgian top-flight titles with his contribution of 13 goals in 50 league appearances.

He joined Club Brugge in the summer of 2019, becoming their record signing in history, and has scored a total of 15 goals for Blauw-Zwart in 71 matches.

In his second season with Club Brugge, he fell out of favour with manager Philippe Clement, making only nine starts from a possible 51 in all competitions.
Okereke’s most productive season to date was in 2018-2019, netting 10 goals and chipping in with 12 assists in 30 matches, leading to a call-up to the Olympic national team and Super Eagles.

He joined on-loan Benfica defender Tyronne Ebuehi as the second Nigeria player in Paolo Zanetti’s team.

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“Venezia FC is pleased to announce the signing of Nigerian attacker David Okereke, 23, on loan from Club Brugge,” read a statement on the club’s website.

“Okereke came through the youth academy at Spezia, before ultimately reaching the first team and making his professional debut in April 2016.
“After three seasons of increasing experience and progress, including a half-season loan at Cosenza, Okereke had a breakout season with Spezia in 2018/19, leading the team with 10 goals and 12 assists in Serie B.

“Okereke’s form at Spezia prompted a move to Club Brugge in July 2019. In his first season with the club, Okereke made 22 appearances, starting 13 of them and scored nine goals to help Club Brugge win the Belgian league, while also making eight appearances in the Uefa Champions League and one appearance in the Uefa Europa League Round of 32.”

He was an unused substitute for the Super Eagles in an international friendly match against Egypt in March 2019, which ended 1-0 in their favour.

Before joining Brugge, Crystal Palace turned their direction at the former Spezia striker with Palace having been looking to add goals to their squad, with Palace among the lowest scorers in the Premier League.

The Eagle were interested in the then 21-year-old forward who had lit up Serie B last season with Spezia.
Palace were said to have sent scouts to watch Okereke in action during Spezia’s thrilling 4-4 draw away at Brescia and Nigerian forward did not disappoint as he scored one and set up another at the Mario Rigamonti Stadium.

Serie A side Inter Milan also tracked him in view of signing him with the option of leaving him at Spezia on loan before a decision will be made on his involvement.

Though no bid was tabled but it was believed that Inter were confident of their strong relationship with Spezia and a deal could be done if all goes according to plan.
According to Italian outlet Il Secolo XIX, as cited on Inside Futbol, Turin giants, Juventus also kept a close eye on Okereke’s development.

Born in Lagos, Okereke began his career in Italy with Lavagnese before his shift to Spezia in 2016, he rose through the ranks before making his professional debut against Novara on April 9, 2016.
Okereke is a product of Football College Abuja.

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