May saw the major European leagues come to an end, with a slew of Nigerian claiming mostly team honours.
There were still more than a few standout individual performances, led by the phenomenal yongster Victor Osimhen, who claims top spot in this month’s Power Rankings.
But who else joined him in the top 10?
1. Victor Osimhen (Royal Charleroi Sporting Club)
There can be fewer easier picks than this, as Victor Osimben sizzled in May, rattling off four goals in six games to propel Charleroi to the final of the Belgium’s Europa League playoff competition.
He and his team-mates surrendered a two-goal lead to lose 2-3 to Antwerp, and fall out of European competition, but Osimhen’s early mark on the game was imperious. His presence caused panic among two opposing players, forcing both to go for a high ball and leaving Osimhen to pick up the loose ball and run past three more defenders before driving home with a cool and clinical finish.
He had previously hit a brace against Kortrijk in the semifinal. With Charleroi 1-0 down, Osimhen popped up in the box and side-footed a volley home from a corner kick despite the distraction of having his shirt violently tugged.
His second goal was just as impressive. He took a long ball away from his covering defender with his left foot while on the run then, without breaking stride, even under close attention, drove home with his right.
Osimhen ended the season with 19 goals and three assists.
Those efforts may not have been enough to see Charleroi into Europe, but there was some personal satisfaction for Osimhen as the club converted his loan deal to a permanent contract.
At the end of Chelsea’s 4-1 rout of Arsenal in the UEFA Europa League Final, there were precious few positives for Gunners fans to take from the embarrassment.
Alex Iwobi was one of bright lights, however, as he almost sparked an Arsenal revival after entering the match as a 67th-minute substitute.
The Nigerian has been squeezed out of Arsenal’s Europa League campaign, failing to get off the bench in the previous two games, but the inability of Henrikh Mkhitaryan to travel opened a door for the Super Eagles star.
Iwobi replaced Lucas Torreirra in the 67th minute, and proceeded immediately to almost singlehandedly, but ultimately unsuccessfully, turn the tide of the game. His first contribution was to run at Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen, drawing a foul and creating a free kick. That sequence of events led to the ball falling to him at the edge of the box, and he belted it home with absolute gusto.
Iwobi had previously endured a topsy-turvy campaign, drifting in and out of the team, and suffering more than a few choice critical comments from fans, but he upped his game in the final days of the season.
Those performances were stamped by two assists against Burnley on the last day of the English Premier League campaign. First, an exquisite looped ball, with no backlift, to find Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at the far post, and then a neat little ball to set up Edward Nketiah for his first EPL goal.
It was a phenomenal end to the season for Iwobi, setting him up nicely to play a big part in the Super Eagles’ run for the Africa Cup of Nations title in Egypt.
What a season this has been for Henry Onyekuru. The forward not only ended up as top scorer for Galatasaray, his goals also helped the club claim a league and cup double.
Onyekuru rounded out his excellent season with two goals in the month of May, one of which won the cup final.
Onyekuru deserved more in the final.
His slick back heel to Belhanda led to a goal that was chalked off for offside. Replays showed the decision was marginal. Then he scored a beauty of his own, sneaking in behind to slide the ball past the goalkeeper. Again it was ruled out for offside, and again replays showed he was level. But there was to be no doubting his winner, as he rose to meet a free-kick and guided it past the goalkeeper.
Bayern Munich are reportedly in the forefront of major clubs looking to take him of the hands of Everton.
May was at once kind and harsh to Taiwo Awoniyi. On a personal level, the youngster found himself in a purple patch — scoring four times in his club’s Europa League playoffs campaign. On a team level, however, Mouscron failed to progress from the group stage, ending their chase for a place in Europe at the first hurdle.
But Awoniyi must have been happy with his goals return in May, especially the brace against Waasland-Beveren in the final match of the playoffs.
Like Onyekuru, Paul Onuachu finished the season as his club’s top scorer — after hitting 17 goals in all competitions
. He may have scored only one goal in May, but it was classic Onuachu. His long limbs won him the ball as he pressured the FC Copenhagen goalkeeper, leaving him with an open net for the finish.
Onuachu also played his part as Midjtylland defeated the Brondby on penalties to win the Danish Cup.
This gives Onuachu and his team-mates a chance to return to the UEFA Europa League after finishing second on the log behind champions Copenhagen.
Few players in Europe’s top leagues have been more effective in the holding midfield role than Wilfred Ndidi. The Nigerian won more tackles than any other EPL player, and is up there with the best in Europe.
Leicester City’s final two games of the season, against Manchester City and Chelsea, were built on the excellent covering work of Ndidi. The results were 0-1 and 0-0 respectively, and you’ll remember the Foxes were undone at the Etihad Stadium only by Vincent Kompany’s wonder strike. With 30 minutes gone against City the midfielder made two daring tackles inside his box to deny what could have been a goal, and he was always available to mop up loose balls.
Kenneth Omeruo has pulled off big performances all season for Leganes, and he continued the good work in May; he played an immense part as Leganes survived relegation, mostly with a 3-0 win at Sevilla.
Omeruo was on hand to deny Pablo Sarabia on more than one occasion, to keep the score level early and then to protect the lead they took after eight minutes, directing traffic from the centre of a three-man defence.
Samuel Chukwueze did not score in May, but he earned his place on the list with good performances for Villareal, including in their 3-2 loss to giants Real Madrid. His tireless running and willingness to take on players was a constant threat for Villareal and a source of unending worry for the Madrid defence.
Like Omeruo, William Troost-Ekong found himself deployed in the centre of a back three, and he thrived in the set-up.
After a run of poor results in April, the Black and Whites secured a goalless draw with Inter Milan and then won their final three games in May to secure their place in Serie A for another season. They failed to keep a clean sheet in any of the victories, but conceding just one goal in each of two games was enough to preserve the victories.
The CAF Champions League Final may have ended in controversial circumstances, but Junior Lokosa and his Esperance teammates could do little about that as they were crowned African champions.
The top scorer in the Nigeria Professional Football League the season before, he has settled well to life in Tunisia. In May, he scored two goals for the Blood and Gold and played a big part in their CAF Champions League win.