The decision to join Porto and play for the reserve side, therefore, has led to a great deal of exasperation, especially with the inability of his representatives, Stellar Football Ltd., to get a better deal for a player of his talents.
However, what if the answer is a lot simpler, and the problem is not with his agents, but with the estimation of his abilities back home?
Perhaps the correct answer is the simplest one: Nwakali is just not as good as we like to believe he is.
Getting hung up on players based on performances at youth level and in one-off matches is nothing new. Mikel himself was a victim of this for so long with the national side, and should perhaps have served as a cautionary tale for how players can sometimes grow away from the blinding light of expectation.
Perhaps the player will impress so much in the second tier that Porto exercise their option to make the deal permanent, but, by Nwakali’s own admission, he will need to develop a lot more in order to be the player he can become.
“My main goal is to develop and evolve as a player,” he admitted in an interview with Porto’s official website. “Improve my qualities and the other aspects that I know I need to correct to help me grow in the way I play
In there lies the kernel of a truth that has escaped so many: there is a streak of showiness and superfluity to his play at times which, while he idolizes Porto legend Deco, is more reminiscent of the earlier play of France’s Paul Pogba.
It might have thrilled the teeming crowd at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo, but it was much less impressive for Eredivisie side VVV-Venlo, for whom Nwakali played less than 300 minutes across the first half of last season, before being sent to the second tier.
He had a much better time of it with MVV Maastricht, scoring four times and assisting once in the second half of the season. However, three of his four only came against the league’s bottom five.
Still only 20, there is plenty of time for Nwakali to grow and force his way into the mainstream. There is some frustration that he is not quite the prodigy most expected, but that does not preclude him growing into a very good footballer.
Perhaps the lesson here is that we ought not to expect too much.