Soccer

Ugbo: Why Super Eagles gave up Messi opportunity to sign for Genk, not Marseille



The Nigeria descent has explained some decisions he made during the summer transfer window before leaving Stamford Bridge permanently

Genk striker Ike Ugbo said he turned down an offer to join Ligue 1 club Marseille because he thought it might have been a mistake for his career.

After spending the entire 2020-21 season at Cercle Brugge, the 22-year-old went back to Belgium in August.

Ugbo could have had the chance to play against six-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi. However, the former Chelsea youth said he chose to join the Smurfs on a 4-year deal due to the assurances he received from the club management.

“The young Ugbo might have opted for Marseille: a big club, in the south of France, near the family [who lives in Nice]. The prospect of playing against Lionel Messi [at PSG] … But today’s Ugbo thinks that might have been a mistake,” Ugbo told Sport/FootMagazine via Tribal Football.

“After Cercle Genk seems like the ideal step to continue on to the next step. Why Genk? Mainly because the players who have made an impact here in the past. It’s amazing to see their achievements.

“When you are young, you don’t pay too much attention that kind of thing. Otherwise, I would have been there sooner. I spoke with the club after the last season ended and they had a great idea for me.

Genk’s Ugbo scored a goal in his debut for Genk, just before the international break. Genk won the 1-0 league match against Anderlecht on Aug 29.

The England-born striker revealed earlier this month that he has begun the process of changing his nationality to be able to play for Nigeria internationally.

“Other teams offered me their services, but I felt that I could find what was best for me at this stage in my career. He added that it was the project which won him over. 

“I’m not yet at a level where I can think about winning the Champions League or playing a major part elsewhere. I have to be more discerning in my choices.

Genk, who won the Belgian Cup last summer, are now in the Uefa Europa League. They will start their group campaign on Thursday at Rapid Wien.

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