Everton FC of England are hopeful their Nigerian import Henry Onyekuru will be able to obtain a work permit this summer which will enable him feature for the club next season. The Nigeria forward joined The Toffees in June, 2017 from little known Belgium outfit KAS Eupen in a deal worth over £7m, but has yet to play for the club.
Onyekuru hit 22 goals and registered nine assists during the 2016-17 campaign to finish as joint top scorer in Belgium’s top flight and sparked a race for his signature.
Everton fended off the interest of clubs including Arsenal and Celtic, but have not been able to play him due to eligibility issues.
However Liverpool Echo has learnt that the Blues are growing increasingly hopeful that they will have a robust case to present to the Football Association in order to get the green light to to use a player who will have been on the books at Goodison for over two years by the start of next season.
The 21-year-old spent last season on loan at Anderlecht where a promising start which was cut short by a knee injury which required surgery.
Onyekuru only played once for Anderlecht afterwards after accusing the Belgian club’s coach at that time, Hein Vanhaezebrouck, of not selecting him on purpose.
That ruined his chances of playing for Nigeria in Russia and therefore, reducing his chances of getting a work permit to launch his career at Everton.
This season, Onyekuru has impressed as a loanee player at Turkish club, Galatasaray scoring nine times in 19 appearances.
Everton’s director of football Marcel Brands has yet to watch Onyekuru, who played in the Europa League against Benfica last night, in the flesh, but members of his new-look scouting team have done so.
And in total, The Blues’ transfer chief and his recruitment department have cast an eye over the young forward live at the stadiums and on television 12 times this season.
‘I’d like to have him at Everton tomorrow,” Brands stated.
Everton manager Marco Silva, too, has been keeping tabs on Onyekuru and has watched a number of his performances on TV although the young forward was not part of the squad that returned to Finch Farm last summer for pre-season training with the Portuguese coach.
“Yes, we are doing our work and are aware of everything he is doing,” Silva said.
“It is the same with all of our loan players and at the end of the season we will take a decision.
“We are following him like we are all the loan players and, as you know, we have a big number of loan players and we have to do that work and take the right decisions for us.”