A former African Footballer of the Year, Victor Ikpeba has said it was wrong for Godfrey Oboabona not to have accepted to undergo trials with English Premier League side Arsenal.
But another Nigeria ex-international Mutiu Adepoju believes the defender took the right stand in rejecting to undergo trials instead of a direct contract negotiation.
Oboabona had said it was disrespectful for Arsenal to ask him to undergo trials after what he had achieved with the Super Eagles especially at the 2013 Africa Nations Cup.
But Ikpeba, who played under Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger at French club Monaco, said the Sunshine Stars captain got it wrong.
Ikpeba told MTNFootball.com, “Oboabona was wrongly advised, he should have gone for the trials even if he does not make it into Arsenal, another English side would have seen him.
“I know he would say he has won the AFCON and plays for Sunshine Stars but he should understand that it’s not the same way these European coaches view European and South America players they view African players. Yes, we have talent but you need to understand how they play, adjust to their weather and a lot of things, so I think he should have gone for the trials because I know Wenger has a lot of respect for African players.”
But Adepoju who played professionally in Spain for many years told The PUNCH that Oboabona had played long enough for the national team for Wenger and his assistant to take a decision on the player.
Adepoju said, “He (Oboabona) has passed that level having played for the national team and especially playing a major role in winning the African cup. Trials are meant for players who have not established themselves at that level. I am not sure that Wenger would ask any South American player featuring in his national team to go through trials.
“I know it is a great opportunity to play for Arsenal but that does not mean that a player at that level should now reduce himself starting at trials level. The Nigeria national team is not a small team and he has established himself in the starting list. Oboabona took the right decision; that’s the way I feel about it.”
And without the Arsenal opportunity, European clubs appear still keen to sign-on the Sunshine defender. Turkish Super League club Gaziantepspor are the latest club interested in signing him. Transfer media reports from Turkey say Gaziantepspor are keen to fortify their defence before the new season kicks off and Oboabona as one of their targets.