Is Chukwueze becoming odd man out at Villarreal?

Samuel Chukwueze’s breakthrough came at a time Villarreal regressed. He was a silver lining behind the dark cloud in Castellon. Exactly one year on, both may have swapped destinies. The Nigerian lags behind while the Yellow Submarines crest La Liga’s waves.
Chukwueze could be classified as a wager birthed by necessity. Javier Calleja’s job was the stake. Villarreal picked up only two victories in a dozen matches. Five points from the drop in 16th, any sort of revival were welcomed. Wherever or however it came didn’t matter. Jackpot.
The 20-year-old proved a masterstroke. He made his senior debut against Rangers in the Europa League in September and by December, he almost became indispensable. Castella’s dismissal and subsequent reappointment in January didn’t halt the flow.
The results didn’t improve much. Chukwueze did. During a bonkers 4-4 draw with Barcelona, he demolished Jordi Alba and Samuel Umtiti with relentless running and dazzling rapid footwork. Alba ended up with a cramp on the night as he tried, in vain, to contain the Nigerian who bagged a goal and an assist.
Chukwueze finished the campaign with 10 goal contributions. He buried five himself in La Liga and on each of those occasions, Villarreal didn’t lose. They racked up a dozen points from a possible 15. He was the potent catalyst that lifted the Yellow Submarines to safety. The usual buzz followed.
Comparison was drawn with Arjen Robben and for the right reasons. Like the retired Dutchman, he is naturally left-footed and prefers to play on the right side of a front three. His powerful touch leaves defenders trailing in his wake with an incredible knack for hitting the target.
Such only translated into more work for Chukwueze. He was expected to take his game to another level this season. The Super Eagle did, at least in the opening stages. He started and scored in Villarreal’s first game against Granada. Chukwueze retained his place in the next fixture but slowly metamorphosed into a bit-part player. Impact sub if you will.


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