For Nigerian clubs and Academies, exporting players is becoming bigger than anything traditionally associated with sports economy in Africa.
According to GreenHunters Sport International, the Sport Marketing Company in Nigeria, more than 2000 Nigerian players were part of cross-border trades last year, nearly double the flow from the second and third Africa's -biggest exporters, Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana.
Beyond Manchester City Kelechi Iheanacho, Ahmed Musa and Winfred Ndidi at Liecster city and Isaac Success at Watford in the Premier League, Nigerian football players fill teams from Bangladesh to the Fiji Islands. They also make up a large part of the foreign imports in the newly enriched Chinese Super League: Obafemi Martins, Mikel Obi, Odion Ighalo, Anthony Ujah, Aaron Samuel to mention a few. And these handfuls of players are worth over half a billion U.S.Dollars.
"It's the only feasible way Nigerian clubs and Academies make money now, since media rights and Sponsorships are in their lowest bidding. Although, the transfer market dealings aren't very organized too, but Nigerian football has positioned itself as feeders to clubs around the world." Victor Addi, player's Intermediary in USA said.
A Nigerian club like, FC Abiede isn't interested in winning Laurels, the NNWL club based in Abeokuta and own by Churchill Oliseh, has been feeding teams in Europe: FC Midijjat in Demark... the team exported players like Obafemi Martins to Inter Milan, Ekpe Ekon to FC Reggiana among others. FC Abiede has exported over 100 players in last few years.
There is Ezibodo academy in Owerri Imo State that only recruit top class youth players for the Youth national teams and export some to youth teams across the world. Some people say the Academy is owned by ex-International and youth national team Coach Emmanuel Amunike. The Eziobodo Academy is also credited for discovering players like Kelechi Iheanacho, Chidiebere and Kelechi Nwakali...
Kaduna is yet another state where a lot of players have been exported from the days of Daniel Amokachie, Celestine Babayaro, Tijani Babagida to this day Ahmed Lawal, Nura Abdulahi, Simon Moses… were all exported from northern state..
GreenHunters have also be experimenting along this new line, they assess players from around West Africa and keep the high quality talents among them in a two to three weeks Camp, and then get them to play in front of invited agents and scouts from around the world.
The idea is to turn GreenBall Trial Camp as a kind of Export free zone for clubs home and abroad, where they can discover raw talents who can also be transferred on a cheaper rate as "Free Agents."
The world now knows that Nigeria has a rich deposit of talented youth players after Golden Eaglets won FIFA under 16 World Cup back to back in 2013 and 2015. Nigeria has dominated this tournament winning the inaugural edition in 1985 and since then, won it five times.
Recently, world’s top class clubs have started establishing their academies in the country. FC Barcelona has established Bescola at the Teslim Balogun stadium Lagos.
…and Paris Saint Germain (PSG) established FC Iruka in Anambra state. Clubs like West Ham are affiliated to FC IfeanyiUbah and Boston Wanderers to City of David (CoD) football club in Lagos Nigeria.
This shows that there will be continuous growth in Nigerian football exports markets in the following years to come. But there’s the need to organize the “cash cow” so it will begin to benefit the clubs financially,
There is also the need to project the market from foreign smugglers… not to chart away our young talents for pantry sum.
If Nigerian leagues are made stronger and clubs win prestigious trophies like Caf Champions league as well as participate in FIFA World club Championship then the price tag of these players will be high enough on transfer market.
The economics of the player market works this way that if you assume each player to be a product in the transfer market, a good product will have greater demand thus the club can put up a higher asking price on the product in the transfer market. And in turn, it will also benefit the player in the way that it will increase his visibility amongst top European Clubs.
But most clubs in Nigeria prefer to leave it open, without stating an "Asking Price." The reason being that they don't want to be the first bidder...that could short change the player if they bid too high or short change the club if they bid too low. They prefer to send a mandate through the player's agent, after the player may have been successful in trials and the club quotes what they are willing to pay as transfer fees. Then the Nigerian clubs would like to bargain at that point. All these can change for the better,