Nigeria power rankings: Osimhen unseated heading into 2020

Kayode, as he is known in Turkey, went from nowhere to number one in December, taking the top spot in the Nigeria Power Rankings. Kerem Kocalar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Consistent special performances over the course of a single month are what it takes to top the ESPN Nigeria Power Rankings, so it took a really special four-week run to topple year-long leader Victor Osimhen from the peak.

That searing performance came from Turkey, where Kayode Olanrewaju, on loan at Gaziantep FK from Ukraine's Shaktar Donetsk, went on a mind-bending run that helped his club to three wins, two draws and two losses in December.

Those numbers proved enough to not only see him storm his way into the rankings for the very first time, but also to take him above Osimhen into top spot.

Determined to make a statement from the start, Olanrewaju opened his account on the very first day of December, finding the back of the net in a 1-2 home loss to Denizlispor. He was only a second half substitute in the next game, another loss.

But that was as bad as it got. He went on a run thereafter, helping himself to five goals and three assists in the following four games. A quite deserving usurper to a throne, if ever there was one. Osimhen himself would be proud.

- Nigeria Power Rankings 2019-2020: August | September | October | November

Speaking of Osimhen, the Lille striker was not easily supplanted and he made a right fight of it. Three goals and two assists resulted in four wins and two losses from six games over three competitions; Ligue 1, Champions League and the French Coupe de Ligue.

As tough as that battle at the top was, it was even stiffer down the list, with a posse of strikers making their case and shoving more defensive players down the list.

Despite all their best efforts, Wilfred Ndidi bagged the number three spot, holding his position from November. The Leicester midfielder did not score a single goal in the period under review, but his masterful, all-round showing helped the Foxes bounce back from a crushing defeat against Liverpool to re-establish themselves as unarguably the second best team in England, and Ndidi himself as the best holding midfielder in the league, if not in Europe.

Slightly below him at number four comes another striker, and another man holding onto his spot, Sadiq Umar.

The Partizan Belgrade forward was in barnstorming form against Astana in the Europa League, plundering two goals and an assist as his club ran out 4-1 winners. It was enough to earn him a man of the match award. And of course, his position in the rankings.

At number five is Kelechi Iheanacho, whose presence in the top 10 should definitely bring some smiles to the faces of many Nigerians. The castaway striker enjoyed a very festive holiday season indeed, finding himself not only back in the Leicester first team, but scoring goals - three of them - and creating two assists from seven games in December.

For a man who has barely sniffed the field all season, that is a remarkable return.

QPR midfielder Ebere Eze is still somewhat in no man's land, but it is hard to ignore his performances for the Rs. He opened the month with a brace against Preston North End, but it is his all-round midfield performances that continue to catch the eye.

Club Brugges' Dennis Bonaventure returns to the top 10 at number 7, helped by superb showings and two goals in December, the pick of which was obviously his peach of an inside back heel to double the score against Mechelen in a 3-0 win.

Making the rankings at number 8 is the ever consistent Semi Ajayi. The West Brom defender has been a force of nature for the Baggies this season, and he was again involved in December as they continue to chase promotion.

Youngster Josh Maja made Ligue 1 Team of the Week, flanked by the pair of Dimtri Payet and Kylian Mbappe, all on the strength of a first career hattrick as Bordeaux brushed Nimes aside in a 6-0 rout.

That earned the Nigeria cadet International a number 9 spot on the rankings, and a well-deserved one too.

Rounding up the top 10 is Cyriel Deseers, who drops all the way from number two last time, to number 10 and only just edged Tranzonspor striker Anthony Nwakaeme for that final spot on the rankings.

In December, the Eredivisie top scorer added two goals to his tally to keep his nose in front of the chasing pack, but not by much. Just one goal separates him from AZ Alkmaar's Myron Boadu. However, it was just enough to keep him in the Top 10.

TOP 10

1. Kayode Olanrewaju, GAZIANTEP/TUR

2. Victor Osimhen, LILLE/FRA

3. Wilfred Ndidi, LEICESTER CITY/ENG


5. Kelechi Iheanacho, LEICESTER CITY/ENG

6. Ebere Eze, QPR/ENG

7. Dennis Bonaventure, CLUB BRUGGES/BEL

8. Semi Ajayi, WBA/ENG

9. Josh Maja, BORDEAUX/FRA

10. Cyriel Dessers, HERACLES/NED