Onuachu’s Trabzonspor future in limbo, Southampton return on the cards?

Paul Onuachu's future at Trabzonspor seems uncertain, with a potential return to Southampton being considered.

The 29-year-old has made a significant impact in Turkey, playing a pivotal role in Trabzonspor's climb to third place in the league standings.

Onuachu joined the Turkish outfit on a season-long loan in September 2023, replacing Uruguayan player Maxi Gomez, who failed to impress at the start of the season and was subsequently loaned to Spain's Cadiz.

Despite a seven-week absence due to a left arm fracture, the Nigerian international has managed to contribute 17 goals and four assists in 25 games across all competitions this season, emerging as the club's top scorer.

Paul Onuachu @ Icon Sport
Photo by Icon Sport

He scored 15 times in 21 appearances in the league, and twice in four matches in the Ziraat Turkish Cup.

Onuachu surpasses Alexander Sörloth to become Trabzonspor's most effective goalscorer in recent years

Not only did Onuachu end the season as Trabzonspor's top scorer, he also became the club's most effective goalscorer in recent years, boasting an average goal return of 0.71 goals per game as per Star.

By so doing, the Nigerian international surpassed Alexander Sörloth, the top scorer of the claret-blue team, in terms of goals per game average, albeit by a small margin.

Sörloth became the top scorer with 24 goals in 34 league matches in the 2019-2020 season, with an average of 0.70 per game, and Onuachu achieved an average of 0.71 with 15 goals in 21 matches.

Looking at the scorers over the last four seasons, the Nigerian striker caught up with Andreas Cornelius with 15 goals and managed to surpass Sörloth as the player with the most goals in a season. Sörloth was the top scorer with 24 goals in the 2019-2020 season.

In the 2020-2021 season, Bakasetas scored 13 league goals, followed by Caleb Ekuban with 10 goals. In the 2021-2022 season, Cornelius was the top scorer with 15 goals, followed by Anthony Nwakaeme with 13 goals, Djanny Semedo with 10 goals, and Trezeguet with 11 goals in the last season.

Onuachu's impact: Trabzonspor's 28-point contribution highlighted by Nigerian striker's goal-scoring feats

Onuachu led Trabzonspor to a 28-point contribution in matches where he scored. In the league, Trabzonspor recorded 9 wins, 1 draw, and 1 loss in the 11 matches where he found the back of the net.

His goals were decisive in victories over top teams such as Beşiktaş (3-0), Fenerbahçe (3-2), and İstanbulspor (3-0 by forfeit). Onuachu's impressive hat-trick against Gaziantep FK secured a 4-2 win, further underlining his importance to the team's attack.

The Super Eagles forward's impact extended beyond the league. In the Zirat Turkish Cup, he scored crucial goals in the final and the rematch against VavaCars Fatih Karagümrük, although Trabzonspor narrowly lost the final 3-2 to Beşiktaş.

Paul Onuachu named in Turkish Super Lig Team of the Season

Onuachu has been recognised for his outstanding performances in the Turkish Süper Lig this season, earning a place in Whoscored.com's Team of the Season.

With a rating of 7.43, Onuachu was the second-highest-rated player in Whoscored.com's Team of the Season, just behind Mauro Icardi, who finished as the league's top scorer. This recognition corroborates the Nigerian's impact and effectiveness as a striker in the Süper Lig.

In addition to Onuachu, his compatriot Bright Osayi-Samuel of Fenerbahçe also earned a spot in the Team of the Season. Osayi-Samuel's performances on the wing for Fenerbahçe caught the eye, contributing significantly to their campaign in the Süper Lig.

Why Turkey could be the best place for Onuachu to thrive

Onuachu finds himself at a crossroads in his career as Southampton reportedly look to offload him after a disappointing stint in the Premier League.

The striker, who joined Southampton from Genk in 2023, struggled to make an impact, failing to score in his 11 league appearances as the club faced relegation to the Championship last season.

Now, Southampton have set an asking price of €12 million (£10.3 million) for the Nigerian, hoping to recoup a significant portion of the £18 million they spent on him just a year ago.

In contrast, Trabzonspor, where Onuachu spent the previous season on loan, are prepared to offer €10 million (£8.6 million) for his permanent transfer. The Turkish club recognise his potential and the impact he made, leading them to a third-place finish in the Süper Lig.

Fatih Karagumruk v Trabzonspor – Turkish Cup – Semi Final 2023 /24
Photo by Icon Sport

Before his move to Southampton, Onuachu had an impressive goal-scoring record at Genk, netting 79 goals in 114 appearances. His loan spell at Trabzonspor saw him continue this form, demonstrating his ability to adapt and succeed in the Süper Lig.

Compared to the Premier League, the Süper Lig offers a slightly less intense media and fan pressure environment, which could allow Onuachu to focus on his game and regain his confidence.

Onuachu: Nigeria's trump card in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers

As Nigeria prepare for the crucial 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against South Africa and Benin, Paul Onuachu emerges as a key player who could hold the key to their success.

The Nigerian attack, bolstered by the likes of Victor Boniface, and Ademola Lookman, presents a formidable force.

Standing at 6'7″ (2.01m), Onuachu brings a physical presence that is unmatched in the Nigerian attack. His aerial ability and strength allow him to dominate defenders and create scoring opportunities, especially from set-pieces.

Paul Onuachu @ Icon Sport
Photo by Icon Sport

While Onuachu may not start ahead of Lookman and Boniface, his playing style complements the attacking talents of the other forwards.

Osimhen brings pace and technical ability, Boniface adds creativity, and Lookman offers skillful dribbling and playmaking. Onuachu's presence provides a different dimension, giving Nigeria a versatile and dynamic attacking option from the bench.

With World Cup qualification at stake, Nigeria will rely on Onuachu's goal-scoring prowess and physical dominance to break down tough defences and secure crucial victories against South Africa and Benin.

His ability to convert chances and influence matches could prove decisive in Nigeria's quest to qualify for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Onuachu was a member of the Super Eagles team that placed second at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2024).

Onuachu, initially excluded from Jose Peseiro's AFCON squad, seized an opportunity to play in Ivory Coast by stepping in for the reportedly injured Umar Sadiq, making substitute appearances for the Super Eagles.

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Godfred Budu

Godfred Budu, a Ghanaian sports journalist, brings a dynamic perspective to the field with over a decade of experience. Having contributed to esteemed platforms such as Kickgh.com and Inkandkicks.com. Godfred is recognised for his insightful commentary and in-depth analysis of African football.
His passion for storytelling and commitment to accuracy have established him as a trusted authority in sports journalism in Ghana, captivating audiences with his engaging narratives and unparalleled expertise.
Godfred holds a degree in Integrated Development Studies (Social and Development Administration option) from the University for Development Studies, Ghana.