Nigerian winger leaves Russia for career progression

Nigeria international Chidera Ejuke has become the latest African footballer to leave the Russian Premier League because of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The 24-year-old winger has taken advantage of a FIFA rule allowing foreign players to leave the country, and has suspended his contract with CSKA Moscow until June 30, next year.

Ejuke, whose deal expires at the end of June 2024, has scored 10 goals and provided eight assists in 65 appearances for CSKA Moscow since joining from Dutch side Heerenveen in 2020.

One of Ejuke’s advisers said the move was taken to progress his career, but then refused to comment on reports that the Super Eagle is set to join a German club on loan.

“It was an important decision for Ejuke to go somewhere he can continue to make a career progression,” the adviser told BBC Sport Africa.

“He started well in the national team but has since fallen down the pecking order and been overlooked by the new Nigeria coach.

“If he moves somewhere and plays regularly, he will hopefully get back into the national team and continue his development.”

Ejuke has been capped eight times by Nigeria since making his debut in a 1-1 friendly draw with Tunisia in October 2020, and he made two appearances at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations as the Super Eagles exited in the last 16.

However, Ejuke was overlooked by the three-time African champions for the two-legged 2022 World Cup play-off against Ghana in March and new coach Jose Peseiro did not select him for the first two qualifying matches for the 2023 Nations Cup.

CSKA Moscow confirmed the suspensions of Ejuke’s deal, but added that it plans to “defend its interests against FIFA’s decision”, which the 13-time Russian champions consider “discriminatory and contrary” to the world governing body’s statutes.

Back in March, FIFA announced that foreign footballers playing in Russia could suspend their contracts and temporarily leave the country.

The move came after Russian clubs and national sides were suspended from all competitions “until further notice” by FIFA and UEFA. – BBC

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