Football

Bournemouth’s Philip Billing reportedly looking to switch allegiance to Nigeria

Bournemouth midfielder Philip Anyanwu Billing may yet be in line to become a Nigeria international, but papers have not been filed with FIFA to switch his allegiance from Denmark, despite such reports.
A source at the Nigeria Football Federation told ESPN that while contact had been made with the Denmark junior international, the reports of him having submitted papers to FIFA were not quite accurate.
The source said: “As far as we know from all quarters, our side in Nigeria and Billing’s, no papers have been filed with FIFA.
“No decision has been made.”
On Monday, reports in Nigeria said that Billing had decided to make a u-turn and commit his international future to Nigeria.
The report quoted sources as saying the 23-year-old had already filed his papers with FIFA to switch nationalities, and comes just over a week after Liverpool loanee Ovie Ejaria made his Nigeria commitment after a spell as an England youth international.
Previously, Billing, who is of Nigerian descent, was reported to have turned down the switch in November of 2018 in order to pursue his Denmark career, but despite having represented the country at under 21 level, is yet to make a full senior appearance.
That is not surprising. Denmark have a stacked deck in midfield, led by Tottenham Hotspurs’ Christan Eriksen. To get in, Billing would have to work his way past Borussia Dortmund’s Thomas Delaney, Southampton’s Pierre-Emile Hoejbjerg, Valencia’s Daniel Wass and Lasse Schone of Genoa.
Even Chelsea centreback Andreas Christensen has been deployed at midfield by manager Age Hareide. All of which mean it might be a while before the youngster is assured of a regular place in the Danish team.
Which is not to say that he would walk into the Nigeria side. Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo, and Joe Aribo are already jostling for positions in the midfield, along with the likes of Ramon Azeez, Mikel Agu and Alex Iwobi, before even looking the way of the recently acquired Ejaria.
But it can be argued that his pathway to a first team place would be quicker with the Super Eagles than with Denmark. And Nigeria fans will be intrigued at the thought of a midfield partnership that involves any combination of Ndidi, Etebo, Aribo, Iwobi and Billing.
Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr, who had previously referenced Billing as a player he was interested in luring to the Super Eagles, offered only a guarded response.
“Like always we try to find new options to make our team stronger. But I do it without public comments,” he told ESPN.

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