AGONA Profile: Anderson Esiti, the new PAOK rock
PAOK recently signed Nigerian defensive midfielder Anderson Esiti from Belgian outfit KAA Gent with a four-year contract. In connection with the transfer, the AGONA Profile analyses his career.
EARLY START IN NIGERIA
Anderson Esiti began his footballing career in Nigeria at his local academy at Bobbies United. He stayed in his homeland for his entire childhood before making the move to Portugal in 2012 to pursue his ambitions.
With the Leixoes organisation, he played one season for the under 19 side, before eventually being promoted to the first team. He made an immediate impact at senior level, subsequently playing in 45 games for the club.
Having impressed with Leixoes, Esiti attracted the attention of Estoril technical director, who made a bid for the midfielder and signed him in 2014. Esiti spent two seasons at Estoril, featuring in 57 matches for the club. He continued his consistent performances at Estoril, establishing himself as one of the best central midfielders in Portugal in the process.
FOUR-YEAR SPELL AT GENT
Esiti joined Belgian club Gent on a transfer worth 1.5 million euros in 2016 having attracted interest from various European organisations. Over the past four years in Belgium, Esiti has made a total of 95 appearances across all competitions for Gent, with 77 of them coming in the Jupiler League. In the most recent campaign, Esiti competed in 30 games for Gent across all competitions without tallying any goals or assists.
The reigning Greek Super League champions paid Gent a total of 3.5 million euros in order to sign Esiti. The Nigerian was signed by the Dikefalos tou Vorra in order to bolster their stocks in midfield following the departures of duo Yevhen Shakhov and Jose Canas. Sporting director Marco Branco specifically targeted Esiti over the summer in order for the team to be competitive in the UEFA Champions League qualifying campaign, as this was an area in the squad which PAOK lacked in quality and depth.
During his successful time spent in Belgium, the 25-year-old Nigerian was known as ‘The Rock’ by Gent supporters, and quickly became a fan favourite. Esiti has the ability to win the ball back for his team as well as starting attacks from midfield. His key attributes are his physicality, being strong in aerial duels and his tackling ability.