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Antwerp's Van Bommel pleased with teen Ilenikhena's goals; impressed by Ejuke's dribbling

Posted : 06 March 2024

Royale Antwerp's manager, Mark Van Bommel, expressed satisfaction with the performances of young talent George Ilenikhena and Super Eagles winger Chidera Ejuke.

Ilenikhena, born in Lagos and raised in France, joined Antwerp from Amiens last summer for a reported six million euros, becoming Antwerp’s most expensive signing in history at the age of 16. Despite the pressure, he responded brilliantly on the pitch, scoring 13 goals in 38 games, including the winner against Barcelona in a historic 3-2 Champions League victory.

Van Bommel is delighted with Ilenikhena's progress and believes the teenager will continue to improve, stating, “He came to us with a large transfer fee around his neck (6 million euros). Moreover, he still had to get used to our way of playing football. It’s getting better and can only get better.”

Ilenikhena is not the only Nigerian-born star succeeding at Antwerp; Chidera Ejuke, Victor Udoh, and Alhassan Yusuf have also contributed positively in 2024. Ejuke, in particular, has shown consistent improvement, starting all eight league games in 2024 and contributing four goals (one goal, three assists).

Beyond his goal contributions, Ejuke's exciting dribbling has been a highlight. Opta data reveals that he has completed more dribbles this season than any other Antwerp player in a single Jupiler Pro League campaign since the club's return to the top flight in 2017-18.

Van Bommel is pleased to see Ejuke add defensive work to his exceptional dribbling skills, stating, “Sometimes I also think ‘wow’ when I see the boy’s dribbling. He came to us as a fantastic dribbler, but the most important thing he learned with us is how to get back to defending. He has become more complete.”

Despite not being part of the recent Africa Cup of Nations squad, Ejuke's overall development has been a positive for Antwerp.



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