The AGONAsport Profile: Emmanuel Emenike
AGONAsport’s George Tsitsonis delves into the career of Emmanuel Emenike, attempting to shed light on Olympiacos’ new summer signing and his potential impact in Piraeus.
Olympiacos’ first striker signing of the season is Nigerian international, Emmanuel Emenike. The 30-year-old attacker has previously played in Turkey for Karabukspor and Fenerbahce as well in Russia for Spartak Moscow. Emenike has also played for Al Ain and West Ham in loan spells in the last two seasons.
His first club was in his native Nigeria with Delta Force. He then made the move to South Africa turning out for Black Aces and then FC Cape Town before going to Karabukspor in Turkey on loan, a deal which became permanent soon after.
Emenike has won 37 international caps for Nigeria, scoring nine goals for the Super Eagles. He led Nigeria to the title of the 2013 African Nations’ Cup, finishing the competition as the Golden Boot winner with four goals.
At the club level, his most productive season for goals was for Karabukspor with 16 in 28 matches 2009-10. Over the course of his career he has managed about one goal every 2.5 matches (223 games played, 89 goals scored). That will be good news for Olympiacos supporters, though the last three seasons has seen that rate drop substantially with 23 goals in 90 appearances.
Though he managed to play in the Premier League on loan to West Ham in 2015-16, Emenike struggled mightily with no goals in league play in 13 appearances (he did manage two goals in three FA Cup matches).
There is no doubt that Emenike possesses some of the characteristics associated with top-level strikers. He has good speed and technique and obviously can put the ball in the back of the net.
Olympiacos have also picked up a versatile player. While perhaps most comfortable playing alongside another central forward, Emenike has shown to be flexible enough to play in the wide attacking positions. He is an explosive player who can get the fans on their feet with a moment of brilliance and that allows him to be an individual who possesses real match-winning capabilities.
Emenike does have a tendency to drift in and out matches for spells. The Nigerian has also struggled at times to be the lone striker up top. He is not a particularly effective target man, so it would seem that Olympiacos would have to play alongside him a “heavier” forward who could be a stronger presence in the box and help bring the team forward with their hold-up play.
The player has also had some issues psychologically over the last few years. Emenike has suffered racist and verbal abuse in his career and has struggled at times overcoming this. At Fenerbahce, he attempted to walk off the pitch after his own supporters were booing him for a lackluster display. He is a player that does need special attention and who needs to feel valued in order to produce.
Emenike’s explosiveness and all-around movement in attack are probably his biggest assets. Along with that, he has a touch of unpredictability to his game which can him allow him to conjure up some superb stuff on the pitch and give his team a chance at winning a match thanks to his creativity.
THE BIG QUESTION
The real question in Emenike coming to Greece is whether he is in the right mental state. Can he come into another demanding environment and justify the money spent on his transfer and wages? Will this be a fresh start for him? Or rather a continuation of his subpar play in patches over the last three seasons.
It would seem that Emenike has all that it takes to do well at Olympiacos and in Greek football in general. He has good physical qualities and his goalscoring record, while not off the charts, is decent. If he can find consistency, something he has struggled with in recent years, then this is a player who could make a real impact at the club. Certainly, he will need to be shown he is cared for.
Former Olympiacos boss Vitor Pereira coached Emenike at Fenerbahce and recently spoke to Greek media indicating Emenike could be a real hit in Greece and praised his abilities. Pereira did go on to suggest that the player needs to feel valued and important and failing that he could struggle.
That appears to be an accurate assessment and time will tell whether Olympiacos have bought a player who can take them to the next level in domestic and continental play.